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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Columnist: Dr Kwadwo Tutu, Contributor

Some people are paying for water despite the President’s directive

Dr Kwadwo Tutu Dr Kwadwo Tutu

It will be seven weeks on May 21 that the President directed in his broadcast to the nation on COVID-19 that consumers of electricity will get some rebates and that water will be free to all consumers for April, May and June, 2020. The President, knowing that some consumers purchase water through private sources indicated that all of them will not pay for water for the three months.

The following day during the briefing session by the Information Minister, the water Minister reiterated that even those who buy by bucket will get it free. Up till today, May 20, those of us whose pipe lines do not have water flowing through since January, 2020 buy water in tanks and have been paying.

These private water vendors argue that they buy from private sources supplied by Ghana Water Company (GWC) and they pay before they take the water.

The problem with electricity was how to make the benefit extend to prepaid customers. They have resolved this and has implemented the directive beginning from May. So the April benefit was reflected in May and we have got our rebate.

This seemingly simple implementation has taken water company close to 7 weeks without solving the hitch for consumers who do not get pipe water and have to buy from private sources who are supplied by Ghana Water Company. I thought that the resolution of the water issue was to call all stakeholders, water company officials, the D/MCEs, private supplies and discuss this matter.

This should not take more than a week. The sad aspect of this is that none of these officials have even talked to any of the private water vendors. Because they also have no respect for consumers, they have not even bothered to explain what the problem is to them. I AM SURE THE PRESIDENT IS NOT AWARE THAT HIS WATER DIRECTIVE HAS NOT BEEN FULLY IMPLEMENTED BECAUSE EITHER HIS ADVISORS DO NOT CARE TO KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE GROUND OR THEY KNOW BUT WILL NOT INFORM HIM.

The Careless attitude of politicians and public officials

At least for my Adenta Constituency, none of the officials; the MP, MCE, Assembly people has checked whether the directive has been complied with. The district water company told me that I should discuss this with the Head Office. Neither the CEO of GWC nor the water minister has bothered to find out whether the directive has been implemented or not.

Bad Reflection on the President

The non-performance of the President’s appointees is casting a bad image for the President. How can the President make a directive in view of the whole country and is partly implemented. I thought that what the President had done was to give some rebate to all Ghanaians to cushion them from the difficulties of the pandemic and that it was great. This is the first time that a relief package by a government has benefited ALL Ghanaians. The Free SHS has benefited many people but not all.

The bad reflection on the President comes from what I heard when I discussed this with a friend who is a top senior official.

He said “it was a political talk.” I argued that his statement was false because the President cannot make a directive if his government would not look for money for it. Besides, it would be politically suicidal in an election year since everybody who is supposed to benefit from it will know whether the President delivers on this promise or not. I further stated that this President delivered on his Free SHS promise and other promises and so cannot renege on his promise.

MR. PRESIDENT, THE PEOPLE WHO BUY WATER FROM PRIVATE SOURCES, MANY OF WHO ARE THE POOR ARE PAYING FOR IT WHILE THE ALREADY PRIVILEGED ONES WHO HAVE PIPE WATER ARE GETTING WATER FOR FREE FOR THREE MONTHS.