Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah - Health Economist & Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana Business
A Health Economist at the University of Ghana, Dr Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah has urged the government to provide detailed information on how it plans to provide free water to Ghanaians as assured by President Akufo-Addo in his fifth address to the nation.
The President, in his address on Sunday, April 5, 2020, announced that the government will from April, May and June 2020 take care of water bills for all Ghanaians for 2020 as it intensifies the fight against COVID-19 in Ghana.
In that light, regarding the delivery of water in tankers to people, Dr Abekah-Nkrumah, in an interview insisted that the beneficiaries must be made aware of how the deliveries are going to be done to avoid congestion at places.
“He [Akufo-Addo] talked about mobilising private and public tankers to deliver water. My only issue about that is the details and the mechanisms for delivering that. Maybe it will be important for some detailed communication to happen on that so that once a tanker arrives, it’s not going to be another crowd which will defeat the entire social distancing philosophy. So, I think it’s important that those who are supposed to do this as quickly as possible can come up with a plan and educate Ghanaians as to how this thing is going to work so that it does not become counter-productive,” he noted.
In responding to the question on whether the absorption of water bills will be feasible in looking at Ghana’s current economy, Dr Abekah-Nkru noted that the focus now must be the effects the country would have if precautionary measures are not taken and not the issue of whether the directive will be feasible or not.
“I don’t think that at this point, it’s an issue of whether the economy can support or not. On the face of it, it’s going to be difficult for us. What we rather need to do is look at the counterfactual. So what would it be if we don’t do this to make sure that the frontline staff are there to be able to work? If we don’t make sure that people wash their hands so that they don’t spread the disease? If we don’t do this to ensure that the PPE is in to ensure that people are protected? What will be the alternative? So when we think about the cost, that is the way we should analyse it. We need to look at the opportunity cost if we don’t act. Because if we don’t act, the consequences will be dire,” he remarked.
Water tankers to be deployed to needy areas – GWCL
Before the President’s announcement, management of the Ghana Water Company Limited said it had instituted a “strategic water supply-demand management plan” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of its new strategy, it has arranged with other institutions like the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), National Security and other agencies with water tankers to support GWCL fleet of tankers in the delivery of water to critical areas.
Also, the new plan is to determine the number of water volumes needed to be supplied to meet the various demands of the general public and that of other essential institutions during the outbreak.
While assuring of optimum water provision, the GWCL, however, encouraged households and organizations to constantly store water for use during periods of uninterrupted water supply.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Water Company Limited says customers who have had their lines disconnected as a result of non-payment of debts owed them will not enjoy the government’s announced free water supply.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Dr Clifford Braimah says the company will not move to reconnect such customers to enable them to benefit from the directive.
Also, he has urged those defaulting customers to settle their debt.