-PUWU Warns Gov’t
The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) has advised the Akufo-Addo-led government not to sell the $126 million Teshie Desalination Treatment Plant, to an American investment company, Aqua Venture Holdings (AVH), which the workers say the state isalready in talks with.
The Union argues the move by thewater services company is nothing but another avenue for a foreign company, to exploit a state company at the expense of Ghanaians.
The workers in a renewed call to the President,want government to buy out the plant for GWCL to use as a standby facility, adding “This will eliminate the variable cost which is adding to losses of the company any time the desalination plant is operating.”
As an alternative, the union said: “The government could arrange a loan facility on behalf of GWCL for the purchase of the plant for GWCL to repay over a considerable long period.”
The Union through a petition dated 22 January, 2019 signed by General Secretary of PUWU, Michael AdumattahNyantakyi, said among others that government must discard the idea of supporting the said proposal.
“The proposed arrangement that the current shareholders of Befessa want to sell the Plant to AVH: an America Investment Company should not be supported by the current Government.
This is nothing but another trap by private investors to exploit a State Company”, the Union said in the petition.
The advice by the Union comes years after the operation of Ghana Water Company Limited was handed to a South African company, Aqua VitensRand during the John Kufuor administration.
The performance and operations of the South African company which was heavily criticized and described as “poor” by civil society groups and workers of GWCL, officially came to an end in June 2011.
The plant, which was commissioned in February 2015 by the then president, John DramaniMahama, was shut down by the current government for a renegotiation of the contract with government, which is believed to be costing GHc6 million monthly.
Thepetition which was copied to several individuals and institutions including Vice President Dr. MahamuduBawumia and Chief of Staff, FremaOpare,raised concerns with the high cost of running the facility and even the purportedly excessive amounts of salt in the water.
The union further said, it was worried that the GWCL “is being forced to secure a loan facility of $10 million to defray the accumulated debt arising from the capacity charge, electricity bills, etc. incurred on the desalination plant.”
“Contracting a loan just to pay the outstanding debts of GWCL to Befessa “is likely to pose a serious threat to industrial harmony and water supply situation in Ghana,” it concluded.
The statement added that the debts from the Teshie Desalination Plant continue to pile up on the Ghana Water Company and funds mobilized from other operational regions.
Outlining the key problems for the petition, the statement said the average monthly cost for the operations of the Desalination Plant is equivalent to GHC 11,000,000.00.
The capacity charge is constant whether the plant is operational or not.
“Currently, because of the huge debt incurred by GWCL from the operations of the desalination plant, the company is not able to invest into capacity expansion and rehabilitation of existing facilities; including the need for replacement of old distribution pipes within the catchment area of this plant.
The statement also complained about too much salinity in the water and thereby not well accepted by consumers in the communities where the plant is located.
“There is too much salinity in the water and thereby no well accepted by consumers in the Teshie and Nungua communities”.