General News Wed, 12 Mar 2008

I feel guilty flushing the toilet -Minister

The Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique has given public expression to an issue that may not come easily to certain tongues in polite gatherings. He has openly confessed to feeling guilty when he has to flush his toilet after a single “tinkle”. He said flushing away about a gallon of clean treated water that way is so wasteful and called on his compatriots to help in the conservation of water.

He also bemoaned the practice of illegal connections that have contributed to robbing the Ghana Water Company of revenue and making its delivery inefficient, but he assured Ghanaians that the current water shortage hitting the national capital would not derail the government’s commitment towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 78% water coverage by 2015.

Speaking at the ‘Meet-the-Press’ series in Accra yesterday, the Minister blamed the Accra situation on the power failures at the main dams at Kpone and Weija. “When there is five minutes power failure, it takes the machines five hours to start working properly again”, he explained. He, however said, the government has laid down plans to help residents immediately and to prevent future occurrences. He mentioned some of the immediate plans as, “a 24hour-7 days a week water tank supply of water to residents, construction of more boreholes in communities and water rationing”. Though the water rationing would not be permanent, he said, “at this moment it would provide equitable distribution of water to all”.

He disclosed that, “the drilling unit of the Ghana Water Company Limited has so far sunk a total of five (5) boreholes at Dodowa to improve upon the present level of water delivery to Adenta and its environs as a short term measure. Adenta will also benefit from the Accra East West interconnection, currently underway.” This project, he said, entails the transfer of water from Weija to the East of Accra which is expected to supplement water from Kpong with at least 15 million gallons per day.

Alhaji Boniface Saddique said the completion of the project would improve water delivery to eastern and western Accra including: Madina, Kwabenya, Ashongman, North, East and West Legon, Ashaley Botwe, Haatso and other communities. In the country-wide disposition, he said projects like Kwanyaku Water Supply Project, Cape Coast Water Supply Project, Koforidua Water Supply Project and the Tamale Water Supply Project would all be completed soon to augment the current water supply in the country.

Most of the questions raised by the press, however, centered on the contract and the efficiency of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) management of Ghana Water Company Limited. While some called for a review of the contract, others called for the termination of the contract since the company according to them had failed in its work. In his judgment, Alhaji Saddique said, the termination of the contract with Aqua Vitens would not solve the problem if the causes of the water shortages are not found and dealt with.

“We can terminate the contract now; bring another one on board, the same thing will happen, terminate the contract and it will be very difficult to get another company to work for you…What we will do is to review the contract and see what needs to be done”, he said. The Minister pleaded with Ghanaians to help stop illegal connections, because its “fiscal and commercial loses” are enormous. Like the load shedding programme that was put in place by the Ghana Electricity Company (ECG) and the Volta River Authority (VRA) last year, the Ghana Water Company at the beginning of this year instituted its own rationing regime to residents in Accra. Some areas have been without water for days at a stretch while others get flows at odd hours and others are reduced to trickles.

Source: ADM
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