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General News
Workers of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) are reportedly so dissatisfied with Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd. (AVRL), a private company contracted by the government to revamp the operations of GWCL, that they are contemplating a strike to pressurise the government to abrogate the contract.

The workers’ discontentment with the performance of AVRL which took over the operations of GWCL six months ago, has allegedly resulted in mounting tension among the GWCL staff

The situation is compounded by the workers further accusing the GWCL management of reneging on its promise of increased salaries.

Investigations by the Times have revealed that the leaders of the GWCL local unions across the country will meet next week to assess the performance of the operator during the past six months.
Some of the worker the Times spoke to in Accra confirmed the planned meeting and called for immediate action on the alleged poor performance of the private operator who they also accused of not being able to develop a strategic plan to improve the company’s operations.

Some of the 241 staff of the GWCL seconded to the private operator are also aggrieved and accuse the company of ripping off GWCL and the government because it has not introduced anything new to improve the performance of the GWCL.

Last month, the management of the private company reportedly met with the seconded staff at the Accra East regional office where it asked the staff to submit proposals for the improvement of GWCL’s operational performance.

That request was said to have further infuriated the staff who are of the view that the private company was brought in to help solve the company’s problems and not to ask the local staff for ideas because that is what it was contracted to do.

Each of the eight foreign managers of Aqua Vitens Rand is said to be receiving a monthly salary of ¢270million from the project funds provided by the World Bank as a loan to the country.

However, further investigations have revealed that the management of GWCL itself is not happy with the performance of the private company and is seriously thinking of reviewing the contract.

It is reportedly disappointed about the private operator’s inability to develop any strategic plan for the improvement of the company’s operations after six months of its involvement in the sector.

All it was able to do was the submission of reports of an inventory of operational problems affecting the GWCL throughout the regions.

A source close to the GWCL management told the Times that some management staff have expressed reservations about the performance of the private company because the "management wants a strategic plan for progress and not an inventory of problems which are already known."

Most GWCL management officials are however tight-lipped over the performance of the private operator.

Meanwhile, the management of the GWCL has written to the managers of Aqua Vitens Rand to stop using the company’s staff for its operations, which they say contravenes the contract.

The Rev. S.L. Lamptey, Chief Administrative Manager confirmed the management’s receipt of the reports and its ultimatum to the private operator to revert the GWCL staff being used as operator staff to the seconded staff category.

Under a five year contract signed between he GWCL and Aqua Vitens Rand Ltd on November 22,2005, a number of GWCL staff with the required competence were to be seconded to the private company and paid from the revenue funds of GWCL.

The private company, a joint venture established by a Dutch water company, Vitens International BV and a South African water firm, Rand Water Services(Pty) is also required to recruit its own staff for operations who are to be paid from the private company’s resources

However about 24 of the seconded staff drafted by the private company into its operations are still being paid by the GWCL which is allegedly in breach of the contract.

In addition, some of the seconded staff have reportedly been transferred by the private operator without consulting the GWCL management as provided by the contract.

The GWCL management has therefore given the private company up to January 31, to look for its own operator staff and stop using those from the GWCL.

However, Mr. Stanley Martey, Public Relations Manager for the Aqua Vitens Rand, told the Times that the workers’ accusations are misplaced because there had been considerable improvement in operations of the GWCL.

He stated that the contract was on course, saying that a strategic framework had been developed and its full implementation was about to start.

Mr. Mintah Aboagye, Director of Water Directorate at the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, told the Times that that the Ministry is yet to assess the performance of the private operator.

The GWCL, which is playing the monitoring role, would have to submit a review report to the ministry to enable it to do a meaningful assessment, he said.

Mr. Michael Agyeman, Chief Public Relations Officer of GWCL, when contacted said it was too early to comment on the performance of Aqua Vitens Rand since the company was "yet to start actual operations" to improve efficiency in the GWCL’s operations.

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