The Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU), has called for the termination of the Teshie Desalination Water Plant contract, arguing that the current state of the plant renders it unprofitable.
Their demand comes regardless of a caution from operators of the water plant, Hydrocol, that the said termination will cost government about US $ 123 million.The Deputy General Secretary of PUWU, Richard Nyaaba, who made the demand on behalf of the Union on Eyewitness News, said their demands had become necessary, given what it describes as the “heavy financial burden” it is places on the GWCL.
“If we do not take care, that plant will run down the Ghana Water Company and it cannot perform its mandate of supplying others with water,” argued Mr. Nyaaba.
Mr. Nyaaba in defending his call for termination, also pointed out that the plant when closed down will only affect residents of Teshie who have been the main beneficiaries of this project and not Ghanaians as a whole.
PUWU’s call came hours after they called for a thorough investigation into the various roles played by public officials who negotiated the agreement for the construction of the plant.
PUWU had argued that the said project had “seriously weakened the capacity of GWCL to deliver on its mandate.”
Meanwhile, the GWCL has indicated that it is in talks with government to decide on the way forward.
The Chief Executive Officer of GWCL who made this revelation on Eyewitness News , Clifford Braimah said: “Government is working on it. We have series of meetings, series of interactions and then we are getting into the conclusion stages so we need some time to finalise whatever we are doing.”
“It is a project for the Republic of Ghana. It is a PPP project between the government of Ghana and the people who promoted the project. It went through Cabinet to Parliament and so it is a national project. If there is going to be anything, we have to go through due process to take any decision.”
In 2011, the Government of Ghana awarded a contract to Befesa Desalination Development Ghana for the establishment of the sea water treatment plant to produce clean water, which will be channeled into the pipelines of GWCL.
Messrs Befesa Limited, an engineering firm, was contracted by the government to build the desalination plant, operate to defray its cost, and hand over to the GWCL after 25 years.
The project was executed by Abengoa, a Spanish company, and Sojitz Corporation, Japan’s largest importer of rare earth metals.
The two hold a 94% equity in the project. The plant was designed, constructed and is being operated by Befesa Desalination Developments Ghana, a joint venture of Abengoa Water Investments Ghana, Daye Water Investment (Ghana), and their local partner Hydrocol.
Meanwhile, the operators of the Teshie Desalination Plant, Hydrocol limited, has blamed the woes of the plant on what it called the Ghana Water Company Limited’s (GWCL) failings in revenue collection.
Poor revenue collection cause of desalination plant woes – Operators
Also speaking on Eyewitness News, the CEO of Hydrocol limited, Henry Ofori, insisted that “the biggest problem we have with Ghana Water is the non-revenue collection… If they were able to solve that problem, they wouldn’t have a challenge with this plant.
Mr. Ofori said Ghana water is struggling to be independent and self-sustaining because they are used to government always stepping in to bail them out.
“They [GWLC] were never used to having to pay for water. This was all set up by the government for them and for many years, they were selling water and not accounting for what they were selling,” he said.
Terminating contact to cost over $126 million
Mr. Ofori has advised against any move to terminate the contract, as stated by the Public Utility Workers Union.
He said the termination of the contract would “cost Ghana dearly” and even more than the $126 million cost of the plant.
“You have private investors involved in this and there was a lot of money that was borrowed for this project… I can’t give you an exact figure, but it will cost more than $126 million to terminate such a project,” he warned.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana