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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Columnist: Atawura, Philip

Yes Pure water! Na who go buy?


A walk through the capital city would expose any visitor to a colorful Ghana. Here, everyone is that busy with one or two things and that kind of mechanical solidarity is hardly found, but that does not underscore the fact that the average Ghanaian is very sociable and hospitable. The markets are always busy with traders and buyers and the favorite groceries are never left out as young and old, big and small, fat and slim, tall and short all queue up to get the first hand of goods. In fact, hardly would someone walk through Makola, Adum, Kejetia, Kantamanto and other busy trading markets for two hours without calling for something cool to quench their thirst. For the most Ghanaian, the panacea to this is sachet water, usually called pure water though only God knows how pure they indeed are. Around 1993 when I was in class one, this water was served in cups for traders and passersby and it was around 50 pesewas, not the new Ghana pesewas, if my statistics are not wrong. Not long, this water was packaged in transparent rubbers costing 30 cedis and from then, to 50 pesewas. In the early part of 1998, the so called pure water appeared on the Ghanaian market and how successful it was at making immense profit that some of the companies even sponsored one of Maame Dokono’s programs on radio. For the name of program, I can’t say lest you contact Alhaji Mubarak. It also started at 50 cedis and then to 100 cedis. There was much profit that most ladies joined the business to help them stop shouting “Memaame Abo Kaei” in their various market posts. What a revolution of water business! I even sold some to help my mother on Saturdays after attending classes and it made my Sundays really good since I would have much “wele” to munch my “Jiji” with. As the years were growing at the advent of the 21st century, pure water was selling at 200 cedis yet it was a house hold name since the economy was softer than now. Not long, the unexpected happened when our own father, ex president Kufour’s dollar stormed the Ghanaian market. That was a very good initiative by his government to ease the transportation of large sums of money since five million by then would fill half of “take away” polythene. One thing I know is that the 2006 new currency was here to stay and it did but for one,”the one Gh. Pesewa coin”. For this money, Anti Jolo at here Bukuom kenkey base said it was too small, Maame Baby Yaa in here Adum fufu chop bar said it was too light to handle, Abotsi Dindani after making good sales of his “boga” meat said he lost close to GH 20 cedis because of his torn khaki trouser pocket within a week, and as for the “Kako” women, they simply would not use this money since it smells to their sight just like the “kako” they sell. Oh, Ghana. Indeed, “NA WHO GO BUY” with this new one pesewa coin. In less than two weeks, this money was cleared from the system just like what the bush fires are doing to Russia now. The traders refused to use this money or even take it when someone uses it to make any payment without any official banning of the money. To my best of knowledge, my JSS R.M.E. tutor told me that “money is any legal tender for the payment of any amount” and therefore don’t understand why some people would just take the laws of the land into their own hands. I hope the Constitution Amendment Committee would see to which ever article that deals with money and seriously work on it. Even if this is a majoritarian decision, I guess Ghana has more buyers than traders and that the buyers’ choice should be adhered to. How can we pay so much money to minting companies to mint our money for some individuals to say they would not use it? This is what the pure water guys are doing. In a country whose recent inflation kissed a single digit, it would marvel any visitor to know that the increase in the pure water industry is 100%. How can some people be so ….to this nation? This water was supposed to sell for at least 3 pesewas but because the one pesewa coin was discarded, the price shot to 5 pesewas. Just four years down the line, here we are buying this less improved water for 10 pesewas a sachet and 20 pesewas for three. Do we realize this is equivalent to 1000 old cedis? I don’t know what the statistical board is doing about this and the BoG should also make sure that the laws of the land are obeyed when it comes to issues concerning money. We are saying our inflation is dropping yet utility tariffs are always going high. Until something is done from the government, here is a little idea to the valued customers of sachet water. Get yourself a 1.5 Lt bottle and fill it with water. Every night, refill the bottle with tap water for it is even better nowadays than the so called pure water. Take this water with you whenever you go out. If these ladies and water companies do not make any sales within two weeks, they would advise themselves, and so long as they don’t, we too would not stop using our bottles. Is Ghana the property of only a few? Let the debate go on.

Philip Atawura

Ghana Institute of Journalism