The late Reggae Legend Robert Nesta Marley popularly known as Bob Marley in his song ‘Rat Race’ from the album Rastaman Vibrations said, “…In the abundance of water a fool is thirsty…”. This is an African proverb which literally means ‘it is only the fool who lacks or complains of scarcity when there is abundance or in the midst of plenty.
Even though Bob Marley is dead and gone, this message still rings fresh in our ears and minds, many years after his death, especially after observing it from African soil.
Now, let me introduce to you my worries and why I chose the caption, “In the abundance of water a fool is thirsty ”: GWCL Must Bow its Head in Shame.
Every day, more than 844 million people live without access to safe drinking water. These families depend on water collected from sources that are unclean and often far away — a 2018 report found that 1 in 9 people travel more than 30 minutes every day just to access water.
Women and girls are almost always responsible for collecting water for their families, spending nearly 200 million hours per day travelling to and from the water collection sites. Scarcity of water, polluted water, and widespread waterborne illnesses resulting from a lack of access to clean water has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life, from education to industry.
A lack of safe drinking water and sanitation results in frequent and sometimes deadly water-borne illnesses. Much like many other countries in Africa, Ghana’s water crisis is straining the nation. The local government has taken steps to try and minimise the damage, but a growing population, faulty equipment and rapid urbanisation are outpacing most improvements.
Recently, residents have had to depend on rainwater for survival since water supply from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) was not available. Motor-tricycle (aboboyaa) operators were raking in money from the situation by selling a gallon (Kuffour gallon) of water at GHc 2.00 to residents who call for their service, hitherto selling at GHc 0.30p or 0.50p at some places.
Meanwhile, the GWCL has partly attributed the acute water crisis in some parts of the country to the menace of illegal mining (galamsey) activities which continues to militate ruthlessly against its operations in the country, particularly at their intake points.
It claimed that galamsey was now more rampant than it was in the past and the company struggled to extract water for treatment at some production plants due to the extremely muddy state of the water source.
“In a dire situation, you may not get enough water to even extract before you start the production process. So, for some of our production centres, there is no water to produce. For some, we even have to do desilting at the edges of the intake to create more room for the volumes to build up”, it said.
The GWCL said that sometimes it was forced by the situation to introduce more chemicals in the water, albeit cautiously, to keep water flowing to its customers, adding to its production cost.
According to the GWCL, the situation has led to frequent interruptions in water production due to the filth in the water that clocked their machines, citing Sekyereheman and Inchaban as the most affected.
“So, we must break production and clean our filters before we restart production. When you should have done 24 hours of continuous pumping, you may have to do 12 hours or less,” it noted.
The Director for Conservation Foundation, Mr Sekyere Osei Yaw also asserted that the GWCL in the Western Region uses deteriorated machines in treating water for public consumption and therefore, underscored the urgent need for GWCL to replace their treatment machines situated at the Daboase Dam site since it has become weak to facilitate water hygiene.
However, Mr Mac-Doe Hanyabui, Western Regional Chief Manager of GWCL, affirmed that the weak transmission pipelines continue to pose a major challenge to the provision of water in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and the Region at large.
He indicated that the Company cannot do continuous pumping of water for a week without having problems on the lines following frequent breakages on them, making it difficult to serve the population well.
In December 2021, Nana Yaw Barima-Barnie, Western Regional Communication Manager of the GWCL urged residents in the Sekondi-Takoradi and its environs to store more water to be used for at least three days during the period of the dry season.
He said water was a scarce commodity in the Sekondi-Takoradi and its environs and for that matter, people should use it judiciously and explained that the Metropolis for the past month was experiencing acute water shortage, hence the caution.
He attributed the water shortage to the low level of water in the Inchaban Dam and the Daboase river which are the main sources of raw water for the treatment plant due to the dry season.
“Usually during the dry season the raw water source goes down because it does not rain and there is no fresh water into the river basin at Daboase which is processed at the Dam site at Inchaban, so day-by-day the levels go down, hence the scarcity around this time of the year”.
When asked how long it would take to see water flowing through the taps, the Communication Manager said, “not until there is water in the river basin” and appealed to residents to remain calm as the company worked tirelessly to provide and share the little water available to salvage the situation.
In February 2022, the situation worsened compelling them to ration water due to challenges with getting enough raw water to process and attributed the challenges largely to the dry season and illegal mining activities, which continued to pollute water bodies in the country.
It cited Western, Eastern, Central, Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Northern Regions as the hard-hit areas and assured the public that it was doing its possible best to resolve the water crisis that has hit parts of the country.
In the Eastern Region, it said the water level at the Densu river is also low owing to the dry season and water turbidity due to external activities such as galamsey.
“The Pra River in the Western Region that runs through Denkyira Hemang in the Central Region is polluted, so is the Ankobra and several others. Averagely, in a week, consumers should expect water flow at least once to enable equal share of water to other locations”, it added.
However, God did not deny the country especially, the affected areas with rain during the rainy season. There have been reports of a series of flood incidents in the areas yet the GWCL continues to ration water. So the question we ask is, “was the GWCL telling the public the truth?” Or they should just bow their heads in shame.
Meanwhile, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo in November 2020 cut the sod to pave the way for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Sekondi-Takoradi Water Supply System.
The project which was costing Ghana 70 million Euros, when completed would produce 22.2 million gallons a day to serve about 42 communities within the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis (STMA) and the Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipality (EKMA).
Speaking at a short ceremony to mark the occasion, Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Government has secured funding for the over three-year construction project from the Austrian Government while Cabinet and Parliament have also approved the project.
He indicated that the Nana Akufo-Addo led-Government was committed to living up to its social responsibility by providing such indispensable services to the people of Ghana and noted that the Region would be attractive to food and mineral processing companies when the project was completed.
Mr Osafo-Maafo also charged the GWCL to install water leak detection systems to prevent loss of processed water across the country.
IGOGHANA checks on the project whose sod was cut about two years ago reveal that the project was still at the preliminary stage with feasibility studies being carried on. That was during the 2020 electioneering campaign so one can easily conclude that it was done to win some votes and not a commitment to living up to its social responsibility by providing such indispensable services to the people of Ghana as asserted by the Senior Minister. We were short-changed then.
So the reggae legend was right in his declaration that “In the abundance of water a fool is thirsty”. A word to the wise is enough and the least said the better so we end here.