Wednesday, 28 April 2010


If ever there was a contradiction in terms that illustrates perfectly the vile nature of the culture of dog-eat-dog selfishness, which underpinned much of the Kufuor era in Ghana, it must be that most outrageous of Ghanaian English phrases, “private hydrant owners.” A hydrant, by definition, is a water outlet provided by the State for use in emergencies by the fire service. Unfortunately, private individuals were able to gain access to the pipelines of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), with the active collaboration of negative types within Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (the so-called “operator” of the GWCL’s treatment plants, distribution networks, and other assets) – if the conspiracy theorists in our midst are to be believed, that is. Having gained access to the pipelines of the GWCL, those individuals then set themselves up as “private hydrant owners” – and supplied treated water to tanker operators: who in turn supplied water to urban households through whose taps treated water seldom flowed. Yet the provision of potable water is supposed to be a responsibility of the governments of civilized nations as a public health measure: for the common good of their citizenry.

Sadly, in the “free-market” environment of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), “private hydrant owners” and water-tanker operators, together with their collaborators in Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), formed a ruthless business-troika that thrived by feeding on the misery of urban households deliberately denied treated water delivered through the GWCL’s pipelines. Using every trick in the handbook of early 19th century American-style “Robber Baron” capitalism, this ruthless troika worked hard to ensure that water shortages in most of urban Ghana persisted for most of the NPP’s tenure – because it was in their commercial interest. When the present regime acted to halt the activities of the so-called “private hydrant owners,” urban households had some relief and started having water flowing through their taps: for a brief period. As if on cue, “private hydrant owners” recently appealed to the sector ministry to allow them to resume their activities – at precisely the time when water shortages are recurring in urban Ghana. Rather than allowing those sharks to resume their harmful activities, the minster for water resources, works and housing, must quickly get a bill through Parliament – and have it passed as a law banning “private hydrants” in Ghana. Whiles he is at it, he must also send AVRL packing from Ghana – as their continued presence in Ghana is inimical to Ghanaians and detrimental to their health. A word to the wise…

Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 7 the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

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