Piloting of prepaid water starts this year

The Ghana Water Company Limited says it will roll out the once suspended controversial prepaid metering system on pilot basis this year as part of reforms to bring efficiency in revenue mobilization.

According to the company, the move is expected to also address the about 50 percent losses in water produced by the water company.

Certain categories of consumers will be targeted for the pilot before a nationwide rollout begins later on.

Meanwhile, the timing and manner of implementation has been questioned by the human development NGO, ISODEC.

In January last year, the company was forced to abandon the introduction of prepaid metering system on pilot basis following widespread public anger.

Prepaid meters cut water supply once credit bought in advance runs out. Civil Society groups have labeled it an insensitive approach to dealing with the revenue mobilization challenges facing the company.

It took the intervention of Parliament’s select committee on Water Resources Works and Housing to end the uproar.

Meanwhile, Acting Managing Director, Fred Lokko has confirmed to Joy News’ Fred Smith the pilot metering system will be rolled out before the end of 2015.

It would possibly be piloted in government institutions, commercial or industrial firms, he hinted.

“Prepaid metering is one of the ways payment can be made easier, both for the consumer and also for the Ghana Water Company…before the end of this year we hope to start the piloting,” Mr. Lokko stated.

SOCIAL STATUS

Dr. Steve Manteaw of ISODEC intimidated that water must be seen as a right that every citizen must have access to regardless of the person’s social status.

The system could hinder the country’s commitment to the millennium development goal of expanding access to water, he cautioned.

Dr. Manteaw conceded the water company needed investment to expand access but stressed the prepaid metering is certainly “not the way to go”.

Going forward, he challenged the company to properly characterize challenges confronting Ghana water. He mentioned that the company has serious problems with quality of water produced, pressure and flow rate as well as non-revenue, thus GWCL’s inability to mobilise revenue for its expansion drive.

He recommended that the company focuses its attention on asking government to raise money to invest in the infrastructure and recover the cost over time.

“You do not make the investment from tariffs,” Dr. Manteaw asserted.

He recalled the prepaid system was piloted about a decade ago in Tema but it failed. He therefore called for a proper debate on the way forward, which might assess why the first project failed.

50 YEARS
Meanwhile, Ghana Water is marking 50 years of existence and wants to leverage on the anniversary to push through the prepaid metering plan.

They have the backing of the sector ministry and the regulator, Public Utility Regulatory Commission, but face an uphill task in convincing the public and civil society groups to accept it.

Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Isaac Essel | [email protected] | Twitter: @isaacessel


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