The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), has debunked assertions that it has directed the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), to resume the operation of the Teshie desalination plant.
The plant was shut down in January 2018 to allow for the renegotiation of the contract which is said to be costing government GHc 6 million monthly.
The reaction by the PURC comes in the wake of agitations by some residents of Teshie who claim that they have sighted the said directive.
The group has subsequently petitioned President Akufo-Addo over the matter, demanding that the plant should not be operated anymore because the water it produces is not healthy for them.
The PURC in response debunked the claims of the residents, stating that it lacks capacity to determine the production model of the company.
The Public Relations Officer of the PURC, Bawa Mounkeila, said it is not in the capacity of the Commission to instruct GWCL on which treatment plant they can use to produce water for their customers.
“What PURC does is that we approve their tariffs for them. And when we are calculating the tariff, we take into consideration the cost, and cost of the salination component was fully covered in the tariff we approved for GWCL. And if we have approved it, it means it should be operational and that is why we are passing that cost to the consumer to pay.”
“We cannot add an additional cost to the consumer when we are not operating that facility so we are withholding it to save consumers that burden. In case GWCL decides to put back the plant, then we’ll bring back the tariffs so we are not instructing the GWCL to operate the plant, he added.”
Teshie residents petition Nana Addo to stop GWCL from operating desalination plant
A group calling itself the Teshie Concerned Citizens Association has petitioned president Akufo Addo to halt any move by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), to force the Ghana Water Company Limited to operationalize the Accra Desalination Plant.
Chairman of the Teshie Concerned Citizens Association, Seth Tagoe indicated that water produced from the desalination plant, which treats sea water for drinking and other domestic activities, poses a threat to their health.
“We will suffer the most. If we continue to drink from this plant for some time, we are going to suffer some health implications. When they wanted to set up this plant, there was no community-stakeholder engagement. They never told us the consequences of drinking this water. They just brought it because we are poor and illiterates. We drink salt and sand. At times you feel the water is coming from eroded materials.”
“This petition is directed to the President of the Republic of Ghana because we know he is a listening father. We know when poor people call on him, he listens to them. Since PURC is now fighting for the interest of investors other than poor people, we have no option but to write to the President to come to our aid so that this desalination plant is not opened again”, he stressed.
The Desalination Plant and matters arising
The Teshie and Nungua areas have had water challenges for years and because of low water volumes, the Ghana Water Company Limited for years undertook water rationing.
The introduction of the Desalination plant was to ensure 13 million gallons of water was produced per day, to eliminate rationing and provide consumers got quality and affordable water.
However, a bigger problem persisted for GWCL, which is the off-taker under the Water Purchasing Agreement between Ghana and Befesa.
A consolidation of all the costs meant that Ghana Water was buying the water at about GHc 6.5 per cubic meter, and selling at the fixed PURC rate of about GHc 1.5 per cubic meter.
This arrangement meant that the GWCL was losing about GHc 5 for every cubic meter of water sold from the Teshie Desalination Plant.