The Director of Business Operations at Dalex Finance, Joe Jackson has kicked against President Nana Akufo-Addo’s decision to absorb water bills for all Ghanaians.
The President, in his fifth national address on Sunday, April 5, 2020, said the government will take care of the water bills for all Ghanaians for April, May and June 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
He also directed the Ghana Water Company and the Electricity Company of Ghana to ensure the stable supply of water and electricity during this period.
But Joe Jackson says the government is not being fair to people who actually do not have any access to water in their communities or people who get water delivered to them by trucks.
According to him, such vulnerable people will not benefit much from the development and will also cripple the Ghana Water Company Limited in the long run.
Suggesting ways to make the President’s decision more feasible while speaking in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Jackson explained that the government must come up with a baseline to regulate the usage of water in various homes so that either the privileged in the society pays for their water bills to support the less privileged or people pay for water used beyond a certain limit.
“Unfortunately that is one program that I have a huge problem with. If the objective of that program is to deliver water and relief to vulnerable communities, then let’s look at how those communities get water. They don’t have running water in their homes. If you say that the water is free, the last mile that the water gets delivered can’t be free because they are also micro-businesses. Already, they are at risk. I want to take myself as an example. I am a privileged person in this country. I wash my car with water. I even water a lawn. Are you paying for me for all those other perks of the middle class? Don’t do it. Let me pay my water bills,” he insisted.
He continued by saying, “[The government should] put a baseline. If you consume beyond this baseline, you’ll pay normal or even more to compensate for those at the bottom. The baseline is a lifeline that states water required for you to wash your hand, keep some, use for proper hygiene, drink some, etc. If you use beyond this baseline, please pay for it. This is good for the environment because we are running out of water. This is also good for the Ghana Water Company because we need them to survive in the long term. Let’s fashion out a solution so that those who can pay would pay, and those who can’t pay will actually be inducted. A blanket everyone for free doesn’t work for me. Otherwise, why didn’t we say we will provide meals for every Ghanaian?”
Community water agencies to also provide free water to consumers
Providing more explanation on the President’s directive, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources said that community water providers, and not just the Ghana Water Company, are also supposed to provide free water to their customers for the next three months.
The Ghana Water Company Limited currently caters for about 66 percent of Ghanaians but there was some uncertainty over whether consumers in other brackets would also benefit from the relief.
At a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, the sector Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah noted that all their systems of the “Ghana Water Sanitation Agency…will also provide water for free”.
“Again, all community-based water systems are to serve water to the community residents for free,” she added.
Persons owing GWCL to enjoy free water
Madam Dapaah also clarified that persons owing the Ghana Water Company Limited will also enjoy free water for the next three months.
This came after the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Water Company, Dr. Clifford Braimah, had said that persons owing would have to settle their arrears before getting the free water.
But the Minister at the press briefing indicated that this was not the case.
“The arrears will be kept as arrears, but those who owe will enjoy [free] water for April, May and June so there shouldn’t be any alarm. The arrears are on hold,” she said.
She also urged landlords to desist from charging tenants for water usage within the three months.