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Sunday, October 1, 2023

States defy paucity of funds, devise ways to supply water to residents

In the face of dwindling resources amid other challenges, some state governments are still expending huge funds on water projects so as to provide potable water for the citizens.

Suleiman Adamu
Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources

A recent survey conducted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that the states had evolved several programmes and strategies to take care of the water supply needs of their residents.

The survey was sequel to a recent UNICEF report, which claimed that more than 160 million Nigerians did not have access to potable water and the report has since generated a lot of controversy and concern.

In Oyo State, the state government had initiated some strategies and projects to ameliorate the acute water scarcity in most parts of the state.

For instance, an ultra-modern water treatment plant at Asejire Water Scheme, which has a production capacity of 186,000 cubic metres of water per day, was established at the cost of N262 million.

NAN gathered that the scheme would supply potable water to 85 per cent of the inhabitants of the Ibadan metropolis as well as the people of Ikire, Ikoyi and Apomu communities in the neighbouring Osun State.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi said that prior to the inception of his administration; there was a marked decline in water supply from the Asejire Water Scheme because of factors such as old equipment, lack of spare parts for maintenance and erratic electricity supply.

He also said that his administration had awarded contracts for the construction of the Ayete Water Supply Scheme to serve Tapa, Idere and Ayete communities and the provision of a dedicated power line for Saki and Ogbomoso Water Supply Schemes.

Besides, Ajimobi said that the government had awarded the contract for the extension of water pipelines to new areas across the state, while upgrading water treatment facilities at Koso and Atori waterworks in Iseyin.

Other contracts, which the government awarded, include the rehabilitation and upgrade of Igboho Water Supply Scheme and the expansion works on Igbeti and Ogbomoso Water Supply Scheme, while the construction of Ilero Water Supply Scheme and New Rising Mains from Eruwa to Igboora (Phase I & II) were also revalidated.

Chief Isaac Ishola, the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, told NAN that the government had put in place some measures to boost the volume of water supply to the citizens.

He said that the rehabilitated and upgraded water treatment plant at Asejire Water Scheme would increase its water production capacity from 10 per cent to 80 per cent.

“The plant could conveniently supply about 150 million litres of water to about four million residents of Ibadan and its environs on a daily basis. Besides, some dilapidated pipelines across the metropolis have been replaced.’’

In Ilorin, Dr Muyideen Akorede, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, attributed the increasing scarcity of water in Kwara to the increasing population of the state.

He said that the significant boom in population had brought about attendant pressure on the existing infrastructure.

However, Akorede said that when the ongoing reticulation of water pipes and repair of waterworks were completed, the persistent water supply challenges facing the people of the state would be addressed.

Dr Oba La’aro, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, nonetheless, bemoaned the acute water shortage in Ilorin, the state capital, saying that many residents usually travelled long distances every day in search of water.

“Ilorin has since expanded into a metropolis but its water supply is receding into a village-size water supply system.

“Starting from the 1992 to 1993 regime of ex-Gov. Sha’aba Lafiagi; each succeeding administration has fleeced the people by pretending to be addressing the water supply needs of the residents of the Ilorin metropolis,’’ he said.

He said that successive state administrations had failed to address the water supply challenges facing the citizens frontally.

NAN, however, reports that the state government on Jan.  17 introduced a water support scheme as a palliative measure to cushion the effect of the acute water shortage on the citizens.

Alhaji Tunde Yahaya, the General Manager of Kwara State Water Corporation, said that the scheme was to reduce the hardship facing the residents of Ilorin pending the completion of the water project which the state government had embarked upon.

He said that water tankers were deployed to strategic areas across the city to provide water for the residents as part of a stop-gap.

All the same, the situation has forced many residents, especially those living in new layouts, to dig wells or drill boreholes as alternative means of getting drinkable water.

In Ekiti, the Commissioner for Public Utilities, Chief Tunde Ogunleye, said that out of the N1 billion budgeted for the water sector this year, N500 million had been earmarked for rehabilitation and maintenance of water schemes across the state.

He said that another N200 million would be spent on the Ero Dam Water Supply Project, while rural water supply projects would be executed across the state at the cost of N50 million.

Besides, the commissioner said that Gov. Ayodele Fayose had approved the release of another N500 million to boost water supply in the state.

Ogunleye said that the state government had also adopted a new water and sanitation policy, which was approved by the State House of Assembly and signed into law by the governor.

He also said that the government had approved N500 million as counterpart funding for projects executed under the European Union-Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP III).

According to him, N151 million, out of the approved sum, has already been paid, while the balance is being remitted in tranches due to the current economic situation in the country.

Mrs Olabisi Agbeyo, the General Manager of Ekiti State Water Corporation, disclosed that Ureje, Ero, Egbe and Itapaji dams in the state were currently undergoing rehabilitation, while seven communities would benefit from water supply projects.

Meanwhile, the Osun State Government has reiterated its determination to improve the supply of potable water to its citizens.

Mr John Ibirogba, the Special Adviser to Gov. Rauf Aregbesola on Rural and Community Affairs, said that government had done a lot in efforts to supply drinkable water to the people.

Ibirogba said that through the combined efforts of the Rural Water and Environmental Sanitation Agency (RUWESA) and European Union-Water Supply and Sanitation Sector (EUWSSS), the state government had constructed boreholes to support water supply from dams.

He said that through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Office, the Kajola Water Dam in Ilesa was completed in 2015 and handed over to the state government.

Ibirogba said that the dam would supply water to the Ilesa Waterworks.

He also said that the Ede Waterworks, which had been in existence since 1952, was renovated by the state government, while that its capacity was expanded from 20 per cent to 70 per cent.

Also speaking, Mr Olugbenga Owojuyigbe, the General Manager of Osun State Water Corporation, said that the state government had budgeted N13.7 billion for water supply projects this year.

He said that the corporation, which aimed at generating N450 million as revenue this year, would ensure that all the dams in the state were in good condition so as to ensure hitch-free supply of water to the people.

Owojuyigbe, however, moaned that the non-payment of water bills by individuals and corporate organisations was affecting the revenue profile of the agency.

In Ondo State, Mr Tunji Ariyomo, the Special Adviser to Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Public Utilities, said that old and weak infrastructure remained the main factor militating against regular water supply in the state.

Ariyomo stressed that the existing water schemes ought to be in good condition in order to ensure regular water supply to the communities.

He said that continuous pumping of water had become very expensive because of the epileptic nature of electricity supply, forcing the water treatment plants to rely on diesel.

He, however, said that using diesel to power water pumps had consequently increased the government’s expenditure, thereby increasing the cost of supplying water to the citizens.

Nevertheless, Ariyomo said that the state government had signed a subsidiary facility agreement with the Federal Government and the French Development Agency.

He said that the $ 57 million agreement was for the construction and completion of the water supply component of the Owena Multipurpose Dam in Akure.

“The goal of the project to supply water to at least 50 per cent of the households in Akure, the state capital, that is in excess of 10,000 households.

“The tripartite arrangement includes extensive studies and extensive works to fix the dam’s reservoir, transmission lines and distribution network.

“When that is done, there is going to be commercial water supply. There will be provision for fetching points but the water will be targeted at reticulation into peoples’ homes,’’ he said.

State governments in the North East geopolitical zone said that they were also making concerted efforts to supply potable water to the citizens, in spite of certain constraints such as overstretched facilities due to population explosion.

Malam Isa Mohammed, General Manager of Gombe State Water Board, attributed the scarcity of water in Gombe city to a population upsurge due to the influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) into the neighbourhood.

He said that, due to the development, the water treatment plant of the city had been overstretched, adding: “The treatment plant of 50,000 cubic litres was designed in 2011 to serve 260,000 people.

“The projection was that by 2015, the population will reach 300,000, with the plan of expanding it to contain 75,000 cubic litres.

“Unfortunately at the time of design, nobody thought about the issue of insurgency, which led to influx of IDPs. The population is now over 700,000 and the water is not sufficient.’’

Mohammed said that under the current circumstances, the board had no other option than to ration water supply to the people.

He, however, said that mini-water schemes like solar-powered boreholes were established in the local government areas.

Nevertheless, the Bauchi State Government said that it had secured a World Bank loan of $65 million (N23.3 billion) to upgrade the Bauchi Water Supply Scheme.

The Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Ibrahim Sulaiman, said that the project would facilitate efforts to supply potable drinking water to the growing population.

He said that the government would upgrade the facilities at Gubi Dam, especially its power generating plants, while laying 50km pipelines to replace the old ones.

He, however, bemoaned the nonchalant attitude of people and organisations in the state toward the settlement of water bills and appealed for a behavioural change.

On its part, the Jigawa State Government said it had spent over N1 billion on the upgrade of water supply facilities in the state.

Mr Zayyanu Rabiu, the Acting Managing Director of Jigawa State Water Board, said that the state government had also released N339 million for the rehabilitation of water stations across the 27 local government areas of the state.

He said that work on Dutse Greater Water Project, which would ensure steady water supply to Dutse, the state capital, was also in progress.

Rabiu stressed that the state government was implementing a policy aimed at ensuring regular water supply to the public.

He, however, urged the residents to eschew water wastage, while protecting water facilities in their neighbourhoods from vandalism.

In Borno State, statistics from the state’s Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, made available to NAN, indicate that over 1,630 water facilities had been destroyed by insurgents in 27 local government areas of the state within the last seven years.

The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Shuwa, said that due to this development, the state government had engaged in massive rehabilitation works to enhance the people’s access to safe drinking water and make life easier for returnees in the affected communities.

Shuwa said that the personnel of the Rural Water Board and other essential service providers were directed to relocate to the liberated communities to step up the provision of essential services to the people.

He said that the state government had earmarked over N6 billion for water projects in the 2018 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, residents of major towns in Adamawa have expressed concern over the persistent scarcity of water in some parts of the state.

Some residents of Yola, Mubi and Numan said that many people were consequently forced to drill their own boreholes or rely on water from water vendors.

Alhaji Aminu Jada, a resident of Yola, attributed prevalence of water-borne diseases in the state to the lack of potable water in several neighbourhoods.

Another resident of Yola, Mr Yunusa Musa, said that adequate water supply would address a lot of health and sanitation challenges facing the state.

Mrs Lami Auta, a resident in Mubi, said that a situation whereby individuals had to drill boreholes for water supply was a clear indication of failure on the part of government.

However, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Alhaji Ahmed Rufai, said that the Adamawa Government was committed to addressing the water problems, adding that N2.6 billion had been allocated to the water resources ministry in this year’s budget.

Rufai said that the government, at a recent state executive council meeting, also approved N546 million as counterpart funding for the European Union-supported water project in Yola.

He also said that government recently constructed 473 hand-pumped boreholes, 23 solar-powered boreholes, 12 motorised boreholes, while rehabilitating 19 solar-powered boreholes across the state.

He said that construction works were underway in the Demsa Dam project, adding that10 water projects were being executed in schools, markets and hospitals across the state.

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