Editorial: GWCL should adopt a prepaid system

November 16, 2021 By 0 Comments

Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is a utility company, established on July 1, 1999 following the conversion of Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation into a state-owned limited liability company. The company is responsible for potable water supply to all urban communities in Ghana.

GWCL currently operates eighty-eight (88) urban water supply systems throughout the country. Average production is about eight hundred and seventy-one thousand, four hundred and ninety-six cubic meters (871,496m3) per day (192 million gallons per day).

Present potable water demand is estimated at one million, one hundred and thirty-one thousand, eight hundred and eighteen point eighteen cubic meters (1,131,818.18m3) per day (249 million per day).

As a result, urban water supply coverage is approximately 77% (77%). GWCL serves 748,570 customers, with 86% of them metered and 14% unmetered.

At the moment, the GWCL operates a postpaid system where consumers are billed at the end of every month. The GWCL, until recently, would send its staff to distribute hard copies of the bills to customers, with at least a two-week grace period to pay the amount.

On several occasions, the company has had to disconnect supply to customers who default on payment after some time.

The company, after using its own resources to generate the bills and physically distribute them, and more recently through electronic means, is unable to recoup its investment as several consumers do not pay their bills.

This has developed into huge debts for the company, which again spends its limited resources that could be used to extend water supply to the remote areas and improve their services, to pay for media announcements to remind users to pay their bills.

Further, staff who could be useful in very important aspects of the supply chain are made to undertake a disconnection exercise.

Customers are quick to complain about poor service from the company but the bills are not regularly paid. When the GWCL closes the taps for a few days for maintenance work, they are roasted by the public. On the contrary, should the company chase customers for their bills, and at worst, disconnect supply; they become a company that does not see water as a basic commodity.

We agree with the position that water is essential and that it should not be denied citizens, especially at hospitals and boarding schools, just to mention a few.

However, we do not subscribe to the thinking that because it is a necessity, consumers should take advantage of it to deny the GWCL what is due them.

It is our position that, once a potential customer decides to have GWCL connect water to their homes, it automatically suggests that the individual is capable of paying the bills, because the company does not supply the water for free.

Considering the challenge of customers paying their bills and the pressure on the GWCL to continually provide quality services, we at The Chronicle suggest that the GWCL adopt a pre-paid system.

This method would ensure that customers only use what they pay for, just as it is with electricity.

We believe that if that option is taken, the company can save the money it uses for media announcements to remind customers to pay their bills. The company could also get their staff who move around to disconnect meters to do more important tasks.

The prepaid system would also prevent the printing and physical distribution of water bills, as well as physical reading of meters.

The ECG is an example of the point we are making about the prepaid system. The usual threats of disconnection for failure to pay bills are now things of the past, thanks to their prepaid system.

More importantly is the fact that the country is leveraging technology to digitize the Ghanaian economy.

We acknowledge that water cannot be cut at hospitals, for instance. As such, it is also our suggestion, in line with the prepaid system, that some exceptions could be given.

But generally, we believe that the prepaid system is a sure way for GWCL to have customers pay for the water they use.