Mr Alban Sumani Kingsley Bagbin, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, has suggested that water supplied to beverage companies should be charged commercial tariffs to raise enough revenue for the State.
He explained that the beverage companies use about 70 percent of water in manufacturing their products and make huge profits out of the water but pay the same rate with domestic users which, he said, was unfair.
Mr Bagbin was addressing a forum in Tamale on Tuesday on the Water Sector in the Northern Region and the steps government was undertaking to address the supply of potable water to the citizenry.
The forum was attended by a cross section of the population including MPs, DCEs, heads of the government agencies and the security agencies.
The Minister said although water is regarded as a right, it must also be considered as a commercial commodity, which comes at a cost and called for modalities to ensure that commercial users pay the appropriate tariffs.
He appealed to Ghanaians to assist the government in its quest at sustaining, improving and maintaining the water systems, saying that the Northern Region may face huge water supply challenges if nothing was done to rehabilitate the existing water supply systems.
He said the region had three urban water supply systems, which included Tamale, Yendi and Damango with all of them needing some rehabilitation otherwise the region in three years might have no access to potable water supply.
He emphasized that the Damongo water supply system would be rehabilitated at the cost of US$15.5m while Yendi would be rehabilitated at the cost of US$28.0m.
“The Ministry is currently in negotiations with various funding bodies including Hapoalim Bank of Israel, Hidrobiente Group, African Development Bank and two Chinese companies to provide funding for further expansion of these projects,” he stressed.
The Minister said the government was, therefore, developing a comprehensive national development programme embracing the three sub sectors of water resources – conservation and management, rural and small sector and urban water – delivery to address the problems of water supply in the country to meet the Millennium Development Goal’s targets.
He said the government was implementing a Strategic Sector Development Plan (SSDP) aimed at bringing all the investment plans of the three sub sectors into a consolidated sector plan.
Mr Moses Bukari Mabengba, the Northern Regional Minister, said although the government had made a lot of interventions in the water sector, the region was still facing serious challenges in the provision of water to the region.
He said the rate of delivery of water and sanitation facilities had not kept pace with the increasing demand by the growing population and settlements in the region.
He said only about 60 percent of the rural and peri-urban population had access to safe water leaving the un-served population at risk to the various forms of water-borne and water related diseases such as diarrhoea and guinea worm.
Mr Mabengba commended CIDA, UNICEF, CWSA, ADRA and other development partners for their contributions towards the provision of water at various parts of the region.