For close to two weeks, a section of the Pokuase-Amasaman vicinity have not had treated water running through their pipes. I had an outstanding bill of GHC5.00 and therefore used the opportunity of making payment to follow up on the situation. 

On the said day, I got the bill paid and proceeded to ask the GWCL staff and the answer was baffling. A contractor working at the Amasaman Secondary Technical School in the process of work, had caused the burst of the supply line. When asked about the possible day of restoration, all that the staff said was that the burst was by the contractor and it was his duty to undertake same. As to when this will happen, she could not tell. 

My dear friend, the attitude of the staff so baffled me that as I drove away from the compound, I kept wondering if Ghana Water Company was indeed a limited liability company or still a government corporation as it was decades ago. Here you are, having a reckless works contractor break up your supply line to customers. This has resulted in your customers not having water which will result in lower revenues for GWCL. Yet, you have your staff sitting unconcerned about the situation and actually are bold enough to tell customers that they are waiting for the erring contractor to repair it… when, they have no idea! 

Elsewhere, the broken pipe would have either been fixed by the water company and the cost surcharged to the culprit (contractor) or that the contractor would be hauled to the appropriate state authorities for the necessary sanctions to be taken. 

Alas, here we are! In Ghana, we are all lame-duck customers of our various utilities. We sign up to these utility firms for services on the premise that they’d provide uninterrupted supply while customers discharge their obligation of payment for service.  Most of the time however, customers are shortchanged in the provision of services while so much of services provided is allowed to go waste. For the Ghana Water Company in particular, the extent of its losses are so high that sometime in the late 1990s, production losses alone was said to be hovering around 48%.  Due to various interventions implemented over time, these losses dropped. Yet as at March 2019, sand winning alone was causing about 22% of production and distribution losses in the operations of Ghana Water Company Ltd. Interestingly, a chunk of this waste is passed on to the poor customer who already stands shortchanged due to irregular and poor supply services. 

The question is, why wouldn’t the GWCL continue this practice? The answer is pretty obvious – Staff of the utility aren’t bothered about making profits, because whether or not they work for their keep, they’d get paid at the end of each month. Again, Ghanaians are mostly lame-duck and are likely not take the utility on. Elsewhere, this utility will be taken on and dragged to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission or even to the Courts. But here, we only whine and complain and move on. The Consumer Protection Agency which tries now and then to take up issues on behalf of consumers is handicapped by an enabling Act that will enable it to bite. So, we’d continue to have the likes of the GWCL staff at Amasaman watching on as customers are deprived of water and the company deprived of much-needed resources. 

As I write, it’s been over a week since I had that awful experience and sadly as expected, the water lines are still very dry as staff of the District GWCL Office continue to enjoy the comfort of their Amasaman Offices. Meanwhile, the contractor who caused this whole mess is walking a free man. This is Ghana for you, dear friend!