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General News of Monday, 28 January 2019

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Water delivery system under threat – GWCL workers warn

Workers of the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL) are warning of a threat to the country’s water delivery system.

According to them, the system may collapse if nothing is done about the Teshie Desalination Plant which is heavily in debt, the reason the workers have petitioned the president to take steps to avert a possible disaster.

The workers said the plant which cost $126 million to construct and was to produce 60,000m3 per day, was a needless venture embarked on by the late Prof Mills’ administration because, the Kpong Water Supply Expansion Works could meet the deficit for which it had been constructed.

However, they said an objection against its construction was ignored and political influence was brought to bear on the company to ensure the construction of the Desalination Plant in 2012.

The workers through the Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) claim “the agreement which was signed on February 25, 2011, for the Desalination Plant was skewed in favour of the private sector investor as against the interest of GWCL.

“Consequently, since the commencement of operations of the Desalination Plant in 2015, it has not contributed anything positive to the finances of GWCL but only a major drain on the coffers of the company.”

The workers are against the payment of a monthly capacity charge of $1.4 million to Befesa, contractors of the plant, a charge payable whether or not the Plant is working.

Again, the workers are questioning why the GWCL is obliged to pay the electricity bills of the Plant. The bill for 2017 alone stands at ¢36 million, ¢3 million monthly on the average.

In their petition to the president, the workers said they noticed that the Plant has the potential to collapse GWCL as the finances of the company were seriously affected, bringing hardship on staff.

They state that although they sent a petition in September 2015 to then president John Mahama for an intervention, nothing meaningful came out of it.

“The debts from the Desalination Plant continued to pile up on GWCL and funds mobilised from other operational regions were being used to pay for the debts of the Plant; a situation that has affected the integrity and safety of many of the GWCL water supply systems.”

The workers want the Akufo-Addo administration to buy the Pant so the GWCL can use it as a standby facility to eliminate the variable cost which is adding to the loss of the Company anytime the Plant is operating.

Teshie Desalination Plant

“The government could arrange a loan facility on behalf of GWCL for the purchase of the plant for GWCL to repay over a considerable long period of time.

“If there is a compelling reason for GWCL to contract a loan, that loan should rather be used to undertake capacity expansion and rehabilitation of most of its existing facilities like rehabilitation of structural defects of some of the pumps at Weija, Kpong new water plant and Tema booster station,” the statement added.

They are also kicking against a proposed arrangement that the current shareholders of Befessa sell the Plant to AVH – an American investment company – calling on government not to support the move.

“This is nothing but another trap by private investors to exploit a State Company.”

The workers are also alarmed that despite the challenges that threaten to undermine water delivery to Greater Accra and other parts of the country, the GWCL is being forced to secure a loan facility of $10 million to defray the accumulated debt rising from capacity charge, electricity bills incurred on the Desalination Plant which has been dormant for some time now.

According to them, the planned loan facility is not in the interest of the GWCL and the workers. They are appealing to the president to “ensure that the push for this loan is abandoned.”