NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST PRIVATISATION OF WATER
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media and thank you for honouring our invitation this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen, the National Coalition Against Privatisation of Water (NCAP) welcomes the news about Government’s intention not to renew the failed management contract of Aqua Vitens and Rand Limited (AVRL) come 31st May 2011. The decision now clears the table for a proper national debate and consensus-building on how to manage the country’s urban water system efficiently.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will, as a country, be going into this debate fully informed by the painful lessons from this Private Sector Participation experiment, and we believe the sordid experience with AVRL will eventually lead to a change of mind towards home-grown solution.
Ghana Water Company Limited can be reliable, efficient and a strong public water authority if we commit sufficient resources to it and we also encourage and build the institution’s capacity in the direction that would enable us realise our objective of having equitable and efficient distribution of water.
While we feel vindicated by the news of the non-renewal of AVRL’s management contract, we are disappointed because if we have done this earlier, the nation would have cut off unnecessary losses.
Half way into the contract, it was pretty clear that AVRL had already failed to fulfil its obligations under the contract. In fact we do not need the service of a seer to point out the inherent flaws in AVRL’s operations.
The Annual Technical Audit reports commissioned by the World Bank over the years provided clear indication about these failures. Why authorities at the helm of affairs did not heed our calls to abrogate the contract from the beginning beats our imagination; but we are certain that when infractions occur someone has to bear the cost to serve as a deterrent to would-be exploiters.
In this direction, therefore, a mere non-renewal of the contract is just not enough. In addition to the non-renewal, AVRL need to be sanctioned to recoup the cost of non-performance,
Additionally, responsible officials who indulged AVRL of its poor performance year-after-year would have to take up the cost and the associated disciplinary measures. When this is done, a clear signal will be sent out to public officials, local and international entrepreneurs that Ghana does not allow its institutions and scarce resources to be toyed with.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the following are the reasons why we demand sanctions against AVRL;
Water Quality and Chemical usage
The use of chemical and water quality standards have deteriorated in all of the regions. We will not disclose the names of the regions for public safety. According to the Technical Audit report, eight out of ten regions in the country have failed in meeting water quality standards; seven out of ten regions do not meet the standard for E-coli; eight out of ten do not meet the standard of turbidity; all ten regions do not meet the standard for R-Chlorine and six out of ten regions do not meet the standard for colour.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the failure to meet these standards has health consequences, especially for E-Coli which is a major causal agent for typhoid and cholera pathogen. The 2010 Technical Audit report indicted AVRL’s self acclaimed competence, “The data reported during the 4th Contract Year indicated that only 55% of the samples taken on networks all over the country complied with Ghanaian standards on residual chlorine, whereas a minimum of 95% is required. Compared to the level of compliance observed during the previous year, water quality has deteriorated”
This target has long been forgotten due to the low volume of water produced coupled with rationing. In essence AVRL is not pumping enough water to go round. The audit report put it bluntly; “Currently, no data information on pressure measurement in the networks is available and/or systematically recorded by the Operator”
Non Revenue Water
Non Revenue water is still high; there seem to be only 1% reduction of Non Revenue Water since AVRL took over. The audit report captures the performance as such. “Approximately 33% of the total system input volume (water production) represents billed meter consumption, whereas 17% represent billed non meter consumption. Therefore, the rest of systems input volume corresponds to NRW that is calculated to be approximately 50%” Fellow Ghanaians, for the past five years of AVRL’s activities, only thirty-three percent of water produced is accounted for through meters while the remaining seventeen percent are by way of flat rate. Surprisingly however, AVRL was not able to account for fifty percent of water produced for the past five years. This performance is far below the expected target in the management contract which should have been 30% by now but presently stands at 51%.
There has been an increase of 32.9% in electricity consumption whilst 36.6% of plants could not be assessed due to lack of data, meanwhile on the website of AVRL, they have put out totally different picture which states that they have; “reduced the amount of electricity used to produce a cubic metre of water from 0.98 kwh in 2006 to 0.91 kwh in 2008.” Going by the audit report, the act of AVRL is tantamount to public deception which should be reprimanded.
Increase access to piped water
It is now evident that the urban water reform project has failed to increase access to pipe water, residential and industrial consumers of pipe water face a daily hustle of getting water to meet their minimum daily needs.
We wish to re-state that, the decision not to renew the contract does provide a closure to the issue. Going the AVRL way again is a path that we should not chart again. We call for the strengthening and resourcing of GWCL.
An average of 6% of Government of Ghana allocations as against 94% donor funding for the sector suggest that government has not given sufficient expression to its declared committed to improving water delivery.
As we have said for the umpteenth time, the problem confronting the sector is lack of investment. We need adequate planning to cater for growing populations across the country; we need to expand infrastructure to ensure increased access to safe water; we need to change underground pipes lines some of which were laid before independence. If the investment drive is adhered to it would undoubtedly enhance efficiency in the sector. In the interim we do not believe that AVRL’s exit will occasion any vacuum. GWCL’s seconded staff to AVRL will have to be returned administratively to GWCL whilst they maintained their present functions. GWCL from the point of take-over needs to be handed clear performance targets and the processes of determining and measuring performance must be opened to the public.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, as part of the reform programme, 1600 workers of Ghana Water Company lost their jobs. Their severance was poorly handled and most of them are now paupers. The chaotic and organisational conditions which the seconded staff of GWCL found themselves must be resolved together with concerns of retrenched workers hence with.
Subsequent to this press conference we will petition the Economic and Organised Crime Office on the above concerns, to look into and implement among others, Schedule 5 of the management contract which provides as follows under Payments to Operator;
“A. BASE FEE and PENALTY REDUCTION For each month that any System managed by the Operator fails to meet the Service Standards as described in Schedule 4, Section C, regarding REDUCTION IN NON-REVENUE WATER, the Operator shall forfeit as a Penalty Reduction of an amount set forth pursuant to Schedule 4, Section C (b)”
As we have indicated “it is not yet over”. A strong, transparent, publicly accountable and functional GWCL is our suggestion for the way forward.
For information and to set up interviews contact:
Grandfada Ayitomeka: +233 249102195
Bingle Mohammed: +233 244687934
Patrick Apoya: +233 244472784
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