Graphic Business News

Teshie-Nungua Desalination Plant a needless albatross – PUWU

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi

THE Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU) has described the Teshie-Nungua Desalination Plant as a needless investment that has now become an albatross on the neck of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).

Beyond posing as a financial threat to the operations of the national water supplier, the union said the level of salinity in the water was too high, making it difficult for residents around the plant to accept the water.

PUWU’s General Secretary, Mr Michael Adumatta Nyantakyi, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on April 12 that although the Teshie-Nungua Desalination Plant was meant to address the water deficit in Accra, the Kpong Water Project was designed to achieve the same
He said the construction of the plant had never been part of the Strategic Development Plan of the GWCL.

According to him, the desalination plant, to all intents and purposes, “was technically and financially flawed” when it was commenced in 2012, at a time when the Kpong Water Supply Expansion Works had started.

“The Kpong Water Project was designed to meet the deficit required to improve and sustain water supply to Accra, which includes Teshie-Nungua. Accordingly, the desalination plant was a needless intervention but political influence was brought to bear on the GWCL to construct the plant,” he said.

Standby plant
He asked the government to instituted measures that would reduce the financial burden that the plant is having on the operations of the GWCL.

Mr Nyantakyi that arrangement could also ensure that GWCL uses the plant as a standby facility to eliminate the variable cost that was resulting from losses from operation.

He said PUWU’s has found that the average monthly cost for the operations of the plant was the equivalent of GH¢11 million.

A breakdown shows capacity charge of US$1.5 million, which is constant – whether the plant is operational or not; electricity charge of US$680,000 and variable in volumetric charge (average) of US$300,000.
GWCL’s problems
Mr Nyantakyi said the daily capacity of the plant was far in excess of the water demand for the area, resulting in high per capital cost.

He explained that currently, due to the huge debt incurred by the GWCL from the operations of the desalination plant, the company was not able to invest in the capacity expansion and rehabilitation of existing facilities, including the need for the replacement of old distribution pipes within the catchment area.

He mentioned that four filters, out of the 12 gravity sand filters of the Weija plant installed with a daily production output of 42 million gallons, had developed massive structural defects and had reduced its production capacity to 29 million gallons daily and required urgent rehabilitation.

“The new Kpong water plant, which produces about 40 million gallons of water daily has only one duty feeder pump in operation. The standby feeder pump is faulty and if rehabilitation is not done as soon as possible and there is a breakdown of one which is operational, the consequences will be dire,” he warned.

He emphasised the need to replace major overage pipe lines covering a total distance of about 4,000km and improve water resources by dredging dams some of which include Weija Dam (Accra), Barekese Dam (Ashanti Region), Nawuni Dam (Northern Region) and Dai Dam (Volta Region).

Loan for GWCL
Mr Nyantakyi expressed disappointment that despite those challenges that threatened to undermine water delivery, the GWCL was being forced to secure a loan facility of US10 million to defray the accumulated debt arising from capacity charge, electricity bills, etc. incurred on the desalination plant which had been dormant for some time now.

“Your Excellency, with the utmost respect, we think the loan facility planned to be contracted will not be in the best interest of the GWCL and the workers. We are appealing to your high office and other key stakeholders to ensure that the push for loan is abandoned,” he appealed.