Mr Stanley Martey, Communications Manager of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), on Monday said the mandate of AVRL was limited to operating the urban water system and not to undertake major capital investments and expansion of water treatment plants.
He told the Ghana News Agency in Accra that as an operator, AVRL was enjoined, basically, to manage the existing urban water treatment plants more efficiently and make it more financially viable by reducing non-revenue water by 25 per cent over a five-year contract period.
He said the procurement of capital equipment and other major capital investments rested with Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL). "Without any prejudice I think it is important to say that the public should be asking Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), instead of AVRL, what they are doing about the expansion and rehabilitation of the urban water treatment plants since that is what will help in the production of more potable water," Mr Martey said.
He said AVRL had no mandate to make major expansion and rehabilitation, except to make minor repairs, renewal and rehabilitation (RRR) as part of their operational cost, and to advise GWCL on matters of procurement and major infrastructural investment. Mr Martey said the RRR included identifying and sealing leakages and stemming illegal connections in order to reduce non-revenue water, adding that significant increases in water production would only be possible when the treatment plants and the distribution systems were expanded significantly.
He said on account of that AVRL transferred its annual profits to GWCL every year to supplement resources for major capital investments into the urban water system. Last year AVRL announced the transfer of 20 million Ghana cedis to GWCL as profits from its operations. Mr Martey said it was important for the public and the critics of AVRL to appreciate the fact that the final decision on major investments in the urban water sector rested solely with the GWCL Entity Board. He added that it was therefore improper for critics to hold AVRL responsible for "not doing anything to improve the urban water supply system".
Mr Martey, however, noted that even though AVRL was not required to do so, the company had undertaken some major non-contractual capital works using some of its own operational funds from revenue collected and from a Dutch charitable fund. He mentioned the development and implementation of a Geographical Information System (GIS), which would help in effective monitoring of water distribution and location of illegal connections, rebuilding of two meter workshops and refurbishing of 2,587 domestic meters and the rehabilitation of 18 boreholes to improve water supply for 9,900 people.
"We have also delivered Water for Life Charitable Foundation projects serving some 48,000 people across the country and have also strategically placed 'Polytanks' by the roadside in deprived areas to serve some 10,000 people."
But Mr Michael Agyemang, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of GWCL, also told the GNA that it was erroneous for AVRL to keep passing the buck to GWCL when in fact AVRL's five-year management contract clearly separated the performance of AVRL from expansion works and investments by GWCL. "Section 5.1.6 of the management contract clearly states that the performance of the operator (AVRL) shall not be tied into the investment programme of the grantor (GWCL)."
He said AVRL seemed to want to create the impression that since they (AVRL) had been in Ghana, GWCL had not done any meaningful expansion to the urban water treatment plants, "but that is not true." "Since the coming of AVRL we have done major expansions to the urban water treatment plants in Cape Coast, Baafikrom (Mankesim), Kwanyako, Barikese in Kumasi, Tamale, Weija (Accra East/West water project) and recently in Koforidua, which is yet to be commissioned." He said there was also the ongoing construction of a treatment plant at Teshie to desalt that sea water.
Mr Agyemang said AVRL was supposed to concentrate on dealing with the leakages and illegal connections in order to improve water supply and cut down on non-revenue water, instead of trying to create the impression that their operations are tied into investments by GWCL, contrary to the management contract.
"If the challenge facing Ghana's urban water system was just about expansion of water treatment plants, then we could have done without AVRL. But we supported the AVRL management contract because we expected them to bring their modern technologies in the management of urban water supply, to bear on Ghana," he said. He said the mid-term review of AVRL's performance, which is slated for this year, would show whether they had performed in accordance with the terms of their management contract.
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