26 April 2011

Ghana: Don't Renew Aqua Vitens Rand Contract

People across all walks of life have passionately appealed to the President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, as a matter of urgency, not to renew the water management contract with Aqua Vitens Rand. According to them, the company has worsened the urban water situation in the country.

Aqua Vitens Rand, which has a five-year management contract and would expire in May this year, has not lived up to the expectations of the Ghanaian consumers.

Some residents of Accra told the Business Chronicle during the Easter festivities that "for the past week we have no water for domestic use."

Nicholas Ameyaw, a trader at Kantamanto who resides in Adentan, indicated that he spends over GH¢10 on water alone each day. This, he said, had affected the smooth running of his table-top business.

Mr. Ameyaw observed that the continuous water crisis in the capital city was not good for the image of the West African country, and therefore did not hesitate to call on the President Mills-led government to give the contract to another company to manage, in order to ensure the efficient and constant supply of potable water to urban dwellers.

Michael Sarpong, a 30-year old student of one of the tertiary institutions in Accra, did not mince words when he said that Ghana is likely not to meet the water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

According to him, the unavailability of potable water intrinsically affects sanitation among both urban and peri-urban dwellers.

Recently, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Alban Bagbin, openly criticised the company (Aqua Vitens Rand) for failing to live up to expectations.

According to the Minister, who spoke on Joy FM, the company failed to meet the target of reducing the non-accountable water produced by the Ghana Water Company, from about 48 per cent, as at 2000, to 26 per cent.

He maintained: "From the evidence on the ground, and also, from the players on the field, Aqua Vitens could not achieve most of the targets that were set for it. The main reason why Aqua Vitens was brought in was to improve the performance management to make sure that the water systems were attractive to the private sector, and to take up the areas that the private sector could perform better, and to allow the public sector to handle the rest."

A couple of months ago, workers of Aqua Vitens wore red bands in agitation against the management style of the company. Some of the workers, indicated that despite the poor management style exhibited by the company since it took over the water management in the country, there were clandestine moves by the company to overstay its welcome, after its management contract ended in May 2011.

A banner visibly displayed at the entrance of the company by the workers read: AVRL MUST GO FOR NON-PERFORMANCE.

The Business Chronicle's investigations revealed that the root of issues at AVRL had to do with an Establishment Review carried out by the management of the company way back in 2007.

However, the paper gathered that the company was recommending an extension of its management contract, to enable it complete the tasks set for it in 2006.

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