We are in season of love, a time when everyone is placed under an obligation to give: either in kind, cash or words.
As a Ghanaian, I feel obliged and despite many failed attempt to help ECG out of the perennial power outages, I am tempted to give to another State Corporation with the faint hope of it being considered.
My Gift goes to Ghana Water Company
Over the years, Ghana Water Company has not been able to sustain itself without government constantly pumping money into their operation. The current method of operation is not sustainable and therefore calls for the need to adopt a new and robust operational methodology if the company is to be independent and profitable.
Successive governments have tried and keep giving their best to supply the good people of Ghana portable water from our meagre coffers. Under normal circumstances, one would expect that after the company has been in operation for such a long time it should generate the necessary interest by the private sector to either enter partnership with the government or be completely owned by the private sector as it is in the case of some entities own by the government yet attracting private investment.
Unfortunately, investing in Ghana Water Company is deemed a risk by most businessmen (including myself) and one not worth taking. Given the nature and essence of the service provided by the company, this should not be the case. Water is life, a product that does not require marketing to sell should be easy to sell and profitable.
What then is the problem with this all important company?
For the record, Ghana Water Company produces about twice as much water as they get paid for. 50% of the water produced gets lost through illegal tapping or through either accidental or deliberate bursting of the pipes. What this means it that despite the company producing enough to make profit; they only get about half in return for what’s produced.
The NPP government under the headship President Kufour tried to award a management contract to some private company but that could not make the company break let alone make profitable because they could not (or did not) diagnose the fundamental problem let alone to device strategy to solve it. The adage therefore that understanding the problem is indeed part of the solution is indeed true.
This article therefore seeks to highlight this fundamental problem and suggest possible solutions to the problem.
The main problem hindering this all important entity is exposure of the water pipes which is easily bust by actions of either road users, construction workers, deliberate act by some citizens around the exposed area of the pipe to get free access to water being pumped to a particular destination and as usual illegal connection by some unscrupulous citizens.
In all of these the bottom line is that the pipes carrying the water is easily exposed leading to all these happenings.
The solution to this problem does not lie with campaigning and warning citizens to refrain from the act of either illegal tapping or bursting pipes to get access to water as the company has done without success over the years: the solution lies with making it impossible for such lawless citizens to engage in the act.
To do this, certain factors should be put in place before communities are connected to the national grid.
First of all, pipe laying must be done in synchrony with road construction or in the worst case after and not prior. What this means is that, communities should not be joined to the national grid until they have well laid out roads with drains properly constructed. Road construction accounts for the most pipes that get destroyed. This will ensure that the pipes are well buried in the soil and therefore make it difficult for unscrupulous individuals to tap water illegally.
Until this is done to ensure the safety of the pipes carrying the water Ghana Water Company should be seen as an NGO and nothing else because it will never be profitable with the current operational methodology.
Road curbs or gutters will always create a space between road and fence walls or the wall of any house and therefore provide a secured place to lay all forms of service lines with water pipes mostly one of them. The advantage is that it always provides a well secured and safe place for the pipes in this case.
Pipe holes laid in such areas are protected from erosion and constructions works and almost always impossible for tappers. This is why the level of illegal tapping is extremely high in areas with no well-constructed roads and uncommon in developed areas with properly constructed road.
Also pipes crossing roads at such places are extremely difficult to expose since there is always an ideal place to lay them to ensure maximum protection.
NB: The roads must not necessarily be fully tarred, what matters is the drains should be properly constructed and gutters cemented since the pipes are mostly laid along the road with just a few across which in any case will be protected if buried deep into the soil. Galvanized pipe is preferable to PVC in case the main road is not tarred due to it its durability and resilient. The key to maximum protection of the pipes is to ensure that they are buried deep in the soil.
Some people must be fuming and breaming with anger because it looks like I am suggesting that water should only be taken to developed areas with areas without the said infrastructure unattended to. Far from it
The above suggestion is limited to areas that will be connected to the national grid. In the case of areas without the requisite infrastructure, Ghana Water Company must focus on decentralising the water production in a more tailored manner. In this case, I will recommend the multiple borehole concepts which I introduced and have been adopted by most real estate firms. With this concept, I provide portable water consistently to all my estates residents consistently (I am ready to share this with the company)
In this case, the company can rely on prepaid meter for community water supply with their agent always present within the community to service and collect proceed from the sale of water.
Until this simple approach to managing the operations of Ghana Water Company is applied government must not expect any financial returns on investment made in the area of water supply because it will never come to pass and also forever wave good bye to effective private participation.
I believe Ghana Water Company can be one of the most profitable state corporations if these measures are put in place. I hope this is good enough an X’Mas and New Year Gift.
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