A Health Economist at the University of Ghana, Dr. Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah has asked government to provide detailed information on how it plans to provide free water to Ghanaians as assured by President Akufo-Addo.
The President, in his fifth national address on COVID-19 on Sunday, April 5, 2020, announced that the government will take care of the water bills for all Ghanaians for April, May and June 2020 as it intensifies the fight against COVID-19 in Ghana.
Focusing specifically on the delivery of water in tankers to people, Dr. Abekah-Nkrumah, on Eyewitness News insisted that the beneficiaries must be made aware of how the deliveries are going to be done to avoid overcrowding at places.
“He [Akufo-Addo] talked about mobilising private and public tankers to deliver water. My only issue about that is the details and the mechanisms for delivering that. Maybe it will be important for some detailed communication to happen on that so that once a tanker arrives, it’s not going to be another crowd which will defeat the entire social distancing philosophy. So I think it’s important that those who are supposed to do this as quickly as possible can come up with a plan and educate Ghanaians as to how this thing is going to work so that it does not become counter-productive,” he noted.
Dr. Abekah-Nkrumah, when asked whether the absorption of water bills will be feasible in looking at Ghana’s current economy, he noted that the focus now must be the effects the country would have if precautionary measures are not taken and not the issue of whether the directive will be feasible or not.
“I don’t think that at this point, it’s an issue of whether the economy can support or not. On the face of it, it’s going to be difficult for us. What we rather need to do is look at the counterfactual. So what would it be if we don’t do this to make sure that the frontline staff are there to be able to work? If we don’t make sure that people wash their hands so that they don’t spread the disease? If we don’t do this to ensure that the PPE is in to ensure that people are protected? What will be the alternative? So when we think about the cost, that is the way we should analyse it. We need to look at the opportunity cost if we don’t act. Because if we don’t act, the consequences will be dire,” he remarked.
GWCL to deploy water tankers to needy areas
The Management of the Ghana Water Company Limited, before the President’s announcement, had said that it had instituted a “strategic water supply-demand management plan” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of its new strategy, it has arranged with “other institutions like the National Disaster Management Organisation, National Security and other agencies with water tankers to support our fleet of tankers in the delivery of water to critical areas.”
The new plan is to determine water volumes that need to be supplied in order to meet the various demands of the general public and that of other essential institutions during the outbreak.
While assuring of optimum water provision, the GWCL, however, encouraged households and organizations to constantly store water for use during periods of uninterrupted water supply.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Water Company Limited says customers who have had their lines disconnected will not enjoy the government’s announced free water supply.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Dr. Clifford Braimah says the company will not move to reconnect such customers to enable them benefit from the directive.
He has also urged those owing the company to settle their debt.