The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has reminded the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL) and the government that the introduction of prepaid meter for water by the end of the year breaches Ghana’s Constitution.
According to the party, Article 12.(2) of the Constitution entitles every Ghanaian to fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual, while Article 35. (3) requires the State to promote just and reasonable access by all citizens to public facilities and services in accordance with law.
A statement signed by Nii Armah Akomfrah, the CPP Director of Communication, states that Article 36. (2) (e) recognises that the most secure democracy is the one that assures the basic necessities of life for its people as a fundamental duty.
The statement, therefore, notes that water is a right and not a privilege and that it is required by all for drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning, sanitation, and to remain healthy, which makes it a necessity of life.
“Thus, the situation where if a citizen of our country is thirsty and needs a cup or calabash of water, they must first insert money into a machine is not acceptable to the CPP,’’ the statement stressed.
According to the statement, the United Nations Commission on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considers water to be “indispensable for leading a life in human dignity” and “a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights.”
Prepaid meters, the statement said, would be a violation of these human rights and human dignity.
The statement accused the government of increasingly reneging on its responsibility of providing the basic needs of its citizens and allowing for policies which placed the need to increase profits above the needs and human dignity of those who could at least afford to buy the services.
The GWCL’s plan, according to the statement, would only allow people access to water only if they paid for it, and that would cut off large sections of Ghana’s population from water altogether.
The prepaid meters, the statement said, would increase the financial burden on the poor who had inadequate disposable income or no income at all and also have a serious effect on individuals and households.
It noted that the basic survival and health needs of people would be placed under the threat of cholera, dysentery, other diseases and possible death as those who would not be able to pay for water would inevitably look for alternatives which were often unsafe.
Women, in particular, the statement said, would face increased pressures since when money was not available for such a basic necessity as water, they often shouldered the responsibility .
The statement further warned of tensions rising between husbands and wives over how limited finances got spent, compounded by an already difficult situation of high electricity prices, fuel price increases, transportation and food cost hikes, illness, hunger and unemployment .
The introduction of the prepaid meters, the statement said, would bring divisions in communities over differential access to water, as well as create a two-tier society of the haves and have nots.