The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has activated an action to retrieve more than GH¢500 million owed by customers across the country.
The company has started prosecutions in some regions to compel delinquent customers to pay their bills, some of which date back to 2018.
“Already in the Central Region, we have prosecuted 28 of our customers, and we are prosecuting customers who are owing across the country,” the Chief Manager in charge of Public Relations and Communications of GWCL, Mr Stanley Martey, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra.
Mr Martey said the exercise was to recover outstanding water bills of over GH¢500 million accumulated from 2018 to 2021 to enable the company to resource its operations.
He said the defaulters included institutions and customers in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.
“We use this same money to buy chemicals, logistics and pay our staff. The chemicals we use are not produced in Ghana, we need to export them and this brings a lot of challenges to us.
“When we started engaging our customers, we were not expecting them to pay everything. We expected that they would pay part. For instance, if someone was owing GH¢1 million, we expect them to pay about GH¢500,000, but they were reluctant,” he said.
Mr Martey, however, indicated that the exercise had started yielding some results as some customers had started settling their arrears.
The chief commercial manager advised customers indebted to the company to settle their outstanding bills or face the consequences.
The water company had given a deadline of November 30, 2021, for defaulters to settle their debts or engage the utility provider or face legal action.
GWCL also intended to publish the list of defaulting customers who failed to meet the deadline, Mr Martey added.
“We want to let everybody know that we are not joking this time around. We gave them up to November 30 this year to settle their bills; beyond that we will publish the names of customers who are reluctant to pay. If after some time they are still not paying, we will take them to court,” he stressed.
Why the arrears
Touching on why the bills accumulated for three years, Mr Martey said they were a bit slow in recovering the arrears due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the unwillingness of their customers to pay their bills after the outbreak.
“Due to COVID-19, we were a bit slow in the collection of our money because most companies were struggling, for which reason the government even had to intervene to give free water to domestic customers.
“But when COVID-19 cases started going down and we started engaging our customers to pay their bills, some of them were reluctant to pay, so it has got to a point where we have to use force,” he explained.
Mr Martey, however, entreated customers to honour their obligations to allow the company to improve on the water delivery service.