- Ghanaian National Coalition Against Water Privatisation has appealled to government to act against Aqua-Vitens Rand Limited, a water management company in Accra, which is working under a recently established management contract from government.
Operator, NCAP reportedly claims, it is guilty, amongst other things, of water loss, producing poor quality water, using out-dated operation practices and fraud.
Accusations against AVRL comes in wake of a recent technical audit report, entitled, "Consultants' Service for Technical Auditor To Measure Management Contact Operator"s Performance", conducted by German consulting company FiCHTNER from May to July 2007.
Speaking at a press conference in capital Accra yesterday, NCAP southern sector coordinator, Al-hassan Adam, explained report's findings.
"According to report, water quality has not improved. We are alarmed that report has indicated that chemical reagents for treating water against potential health-threatening subjects such as arsenic, lead, cyanide, copper and zinc, are not available," said Mr Adam.
Furthermore, he explained that report had confirmed recent media reports of "stinking water" being pumped into homes in Osu and its surroundings.
This, Mr Adam claimed, is "an act of wanton negligence, amounting to a reckless compromise of public's health and safety, and must not go unpunished."
Report further raised serious doubts over effectiveness of operator's management contract, which, it claimed, "has changed nothing in relation to operation of plants."
With apparent absence of visits from specialised personnel, report doubted whether or nor any transfer of technology had taken place, resulting in use of out-dated and inefficient equipment.
A lack of baseline information was also criticised, rendering it almost impossible to determine actual strength and weakness of Ghana Water Company Limited prior to management contract with AVRL. This, NCAP claimed, had given operator "opportunity to hide its poor performance."
AVRL's handling of Non-Revenue Water was also held in doubt, with FiCHTNER report indicating that physical water loss had increased from 34% to 37%, failing to comply with service standards, which clearly require a five percent reduction of NRW annually.
Furthermore, AVRL's technical figures relating to storage capacities and physical losses had been derived from commercial figures, making monitoring difficult, and representing a "serious indictment" in eyes of NCAP.
Referring to a similar case in United Kingdom, where water operator Seven Trent was investigated and fined by UK's Serious Fraud Office, NCAP stressed that a similar measure should also be taken against AVRL.
Although admitting that water issues are "not the responsibility of government alone", Mr Adam called for government to pay closer attention to water problems at hand and help.
Minister for water resources, works and housing, Abubakar Sadiqque Boniface earlier this year reportedly promised a mid-term review on AVRL's management contract, a report that had yet to materialise.
Speaking to The Statesman, Mr Adam said, "Strategy of this campaign is to hold politicians to their promises. It is state's responsibility to ensure safe drinking water for its citizens.
"It is wrong to subject such basic commodities to principles of market," he further said.
NCAP has set out three steps aimed at tackling AVRL management contract problem.
Firstly, civil society would be organising a public forum to discuss state of Ghana's water supply. Following this, a formal petition would be lodged with Serious Fraud Office to investigate AVRL.
Finally, NCAP would be exploring legal options available for taking operator to court.
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