The Ghana Hotels Association has asked the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, to expedite discussions to get the Ghana Water Company Limited to stop charging its members for water they consume for the months of April, May and June.
The hoteliers say the continuous imposition of the tariffs is draining the meager revenue of its members at a time when business is slow and government has offered free water for consumers for at least three months.
As part of measures to lessen the burden on consumers due to the impact of COVID-19, President Akufo Addo announced that government will absorb all water bills for all users for the period spanning, April to June 2020. This was estimated to cost the economy some cedis.
In a subsequent statement, the Ghana Water Company Limited clarified that the relief covers only domestic users of water but not those using water for commercial purposes.
The President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr. Edward Ackah Nyameke, says the Ghana Water Company’s decision to continue charging them for the water they consume within the period is taking a toll on their operations.
“Most of the hotels have been shut down since the beginning of this pandemic in the country. They have shut down not because they want to, but because there is no business. It didn’t make economic sense for most of them to operate. Even the water that is used in the facilities are not even for profit purposes because as a hotel you need to maintain the premises in terms of even cleaning.”
“Even if the hotel is not working you need to clean. You need to keep the gardens and even the skeleton staff. The security people need to use the wash room and all those things. It all involves water. So, it is not even about the cost of water but the principle behind the whole thing,” he said.
He cited series of engagements with the President and the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng Gyasi, requiring GWCL to reverse the decision.
“As an industry, the Tourism and Hospitality industry players met the President at Jubilee house and we mentioned the issue to him. His reaction was that of surprise and at that particular meeting he even directed the Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture to follow up the matter and address it.”
“Unfortunately, it was not addressed, and so we raised the issue again on the various media platforms only for the PRO of the Ghana Water Company to come back just past week to try to justify the fact that the commercial users were not part of the free water. And his reason is that the hotels are making profit from the sale of water so they need to pay for the water,” he lamented.
In response, the Director of Public Relations and Communications at the Ghana Water Company Limited, Stanley Martey, clarified that the relief doesn’t cover the hoteliers since they fall under the commercial users of water.
He however added that they will only revise their charges when an official communication is given to that effect.
“If this is what they want, all they have to know is that the water is not for free as they see it. But government is paying for it. So, if government gives us the directive that we should add a certain entity, we will add the entity and we will bill government. So, what people would have to understand and appreciate is that government is paying for the water and it is not just like an instruction to Ghana Water to serve the people for free. We are billing government for it. So, if government gives us the directives, we will follow it to the letter,” he said.