Ghanaians and Nigerians Arrested
By Gifty Arthur
A combined team of officials from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the National Security, in a swoop have arrested two for tapping state-treated water into their homes, without paying a dime to the water provider.
Some Nigeria nationals, were also involved in the illegal act. They were accused of setting their wild dogs on Metter Readers, who tried entering their houses to read the water meters. Others had also called police officers on the GWCL officers, to have them arrested claiming they were armed robbers, who had invaded their homes.
The two, Juliet Aniko Osabutey, a sachet water producer and Kanige Michelite, a Nigerian, were rounded up at their homes at HFC Estate, near Baastona and Tema Community 19, respectively, and handed over to the Tema Community 18 Police. They owed a total sum of GH¢3, 003. 39, over a period of six years.
According to the Communications Manager of the company, Stanley Martey, the two culprits after investigations are completed, will be arraigned before court.
A third customer, also a Nigerian at Tema Community 20, all attempts by the team failed to open his electrically-wired gate.
The fifth customer, Fine Print Industry, was found stealing water from an unmetered hydrant.
Juliet and Fine Print Industry Limited, were found upon separate tip-offs by concerned members of the public, whiles the other two, were rounded up by the security, due to their refusals to open their doors to Company’s Meter Readers, ostensibly hiding their illegal acts.
The early Monday morning exercise, which was organized by the Loss Control Department of the company, is to help reduce the 42 per cent loss of revenue, which includes illegal connections, wrong reading of meters and leakages.
It was detected that for almost a year, Juliet stole the GWCL‘s water to operate her Sal-Aquah sachet water business, without paying and as her last receipt which had a “due for disconnection” stamp showed, Juliet owed GH¢1,370 million.
The obviously embarrassed and scared woman, according to sources, had always locked up her gate to prevent officers from noticing her illegal business.
This was confirmed, when the team arrived at her gate last Monday morning, as several attempts by the team to get her gate opened failed.
It took the intervention of the SWAT Team of the National Security to scale the wall, after which she surfaced with the excuse that she was taking care of her two children.
A search through her house showed that the main meter, which should have been reading for billing had stopped .She was able to tap water and connected it to her three large “poly tanks” behind her house.
A look at the writings on the sachet water, indicated that her business had no endorsement from the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) and Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). Everything showed that, the sachet water she was selling to the public, had not gone through any required procedure. Her machines directly filled the sachet with the stolen water.
According to the GWCL PRO, the suspect aside being placed on the wrong category of meter; domestic instead of commercial, might have done the illegal connection with the connivance of a GWCL official promising, “it was easy to find out”.
He confirmed that in the past, several of these Meter Readers, have been booted out of the company after it was found that they were complicit, adding this will not be exception.
After the officers were satisfied with their search and discoveries, Juliet agreed to comply with suggestion that she would have to assist investigations saying, “I will comply, I will comply”. She was then asked to accompany the team to Community 18 Police Station, where a complaint was lodged.
She, however, failed to mention the name of the officer ,who aided her in the connection, saying, “I don’t know him, he is not my friend”.
The next stop of the operation was in Tema Community 20 near Ashaiman, where the team tried with no success to enter a tall-gated house, belonging to a Nigerian.
The officers, who were following up on information by its Meter Readers that the occupant on countless occasions, threatened through his security guard, that he would shoot anybody, who dared came around to inspect or read his meter.
After over an hour knocking, shouts and attempts to destroy the electrically-wire wall, the customer refused to open his gate, even when it was detected that he had locked the wired gate from inside with his vehicle packed on the premises.
Here, Mr. Martey regretted the frustrations and horrendous experiences they go through, while performing their duty. He promised they would find another strategy, adding if it meant going to court to seek an order to compel entry into the house.
In the third house at Tema Community 19, another Nigerian occupants using the same strategy, failed to open the gate after several knocks and shouts. Here, even though the team noticed the occupants kept peeping through the windows, but refused to open the gate. They released their wild dogs to bark at the team.
It took the intervention of the SWAT Team once again to force the gate open. Even when the gate was forcefully opened, the two occupants failed to come out, but responded to questions from officers through the windows.
After some hesitations, a young man, who claims to be a student came out, while the sister stayed inside claiming she was looking for their receipts. Several efforts to see where the GWCL meter was fixed, proved futile as they did not have one.
It was detected that they had since 2009, failed to pay an estimated monthly amount of GH¢40. 00, and it had accumulated to a total of GHC 1, 633.07.
Mr. Martey, regretted why an entire household with a monthly bill of GHC40.00, will refuse to pay. The team also detected that the occupants obviously in connivance with officials of GWCL, have drastically reduced the monthly water bill.
Occupants of the house, had over the past years prevented officials of the GWCL entry, according to Meter Readers. Anytime they visited this particular house, they unleash their wild dogs on them.
Shockingly, Kanige Michelite, the so-called student told the team that he was calling his dad to come home and present the receipts to them, but he rather told his father in a Nigerian language that armed robbers, had broken into their house.
Within minutes, Kaniga’s father informed the Police at Community 18, who sent an unarmed Police officer to the house to effect arrest of the supposed armed robbers. It was upon the officer’s arrival that the team got to know that they had been tagged as robbers by the young man.
A fourth customer, a paper production company on the Senyo Road, Fine Print Industry Limited at Tema Heavy Industrial area, during a search on the company’s premises revealed some ten water hose, which GWCL informants say were used to tap water in the night from a water hydrant, which was not connected to the company’s meter.
It was also discovered that the company, which has the largest compound in the whole of Tema, had illegally connected water pipes from the hydrant into the main factory and cemented it to prevent GWCL officials from noticing the illegal activity.
The company’s two meters owed a total GH¢60, 338.03. An Engineer, E K Ackom, who spoke on behalf of the company, admitted tapping water from the private hydrant, but said it was just a “little”.
After over an hour of inspection and interrogation, the Engineer who acknowledged the illegal activity requested he be allowed to issue a GH¢5, 000.00 to the team instantly, while the company goes to settle the arrears the following day.
The team, however, refused the cheque, directing him to go and make the necessary payments the following day or be arrested. He was assured the company would be billed all the periods that it tapped the water from the unapproved source.
Mr. Ackom, who was very cooperative assured the officers the right thing would be done going forward.
Various disconnections were done, and devices were also seized during the exercise.
Meanwhile, GWCL insiders told the media that the Loss Control Team, could have done a lot to help get revenue into the state company, however, some officials names withheld, are said to be preventing this from happening.
Indeed, records available show that these officers are the ones, who had teamed up with the prospective customers; some of them huge factories to be stealing water.