The water crisis in Enugu has been a relatively biting one. Practically, it has become a norm that every household makes her own independent provisions for water supply. With water wells littered across the state, boreholes and water tanker supplies as now part our daily living, it has become a settled way of life that people should chart their own course of providing their water and dependence on government for the supply is equals to a dead end expectation.
Since democracy was restored in 1999, from successive governments in the state to the present administration, Enugu state has always been sited comfortably as the state with ineffective water supply chain and has left residents to fend for themselves, which is not saying that the case is different in other states in the region.
Water supply strength in the state keeps dwindling and many areas that hitherto used to get water pumped in for them have lost that privilege and have resorted to self-help. This has given birth to the now traditional well digging in residential buildings and boreholes construction for those who can afford it.
In 2006, Enugu State was one of the states scheduled to benefit from a World Bank facility worth one hundred and twenty million US dollars for water development in the country. It would be recalled then that the leader of the World Bank team on National Urban Water Supply Sector Reform Project, Mr. Hassan Kida, announced this during a courtesy call on the then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani at the Government House, Enugu.
Kida stated that under the project, the State Government would be expected to contribute five per cent of the total amount as its own counterpart fund to the project. He told the Governor that Enugu was one of the three states benefiting from the project, sponsored by the world body and designed to provide adequate water supply to residents of Enugu and Nsukka urban when completed by 2008. The two other states are Kaduna and Ogun.
However, the implementation of the project came into fruition during the time of Sullivan Chime’s administration, which witnessed massive diggings across streets in Enugu metropolis with connecting pipes being laid for the supply. Meanwhile, over the years, water have stopped flowing through those pipes and a vast majority of the residents who enjoyed the water supply for the short period it lasted have gone back to what used to be before the world bank intervention.
To find answers to the many questions that have been asked by residents and concerned interests in the state, The Choice Flame Newspaper got the Enugu State Water Corporation Board to speak on the issue as well as the many challenges bedeviling her level of efficiency in providing the water needs for residents across the state.
Speaking to us, the head, Public Relations Enugu State Water Corporation Board, Ugwu Romanus Anike, revealed that the said project being referred to was once under private finance. According to him, the government had contractors that were enrolled under private finance with the agreement that when they finish, they’ll be paid, some of them didn’t finish the job while some of them did it half hazardly.
“At times you’ll discover that they were jumping some pipes in some places that pipes where laid, so there’s no way you can connect water and it’ll go through”, Mr. Anike said.
He told us that it was quite unfortunate that some of the problems they had under that private finance scheme still persist as some of contractors are still demanding for their payment from the government which he said is still pending because according to him, they did a bad job.
Speaking further on some of the challenges of the corporation, Mr. Anike cited the decaying state of the pumping facilities at Great Enugu Water Scheme at Ajali-Owa as well as the Enugu Augmentation water Scheme at Oji River.
“The issues we are having are that some of those pumps were not handled by that time they did the World Bank project. If they were handled and replaced, it would have been a different development”, he said.
The corporations’ spokesman further blamed the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC) for the poor supply of energy to their pump station. He revealed that they only get barely 15 hours energy supply from EEDC as against the supposed 24 hours supply to aid efficient water supply across laid pipelines in the state. He said that because of the outrageous cost of using a power generating set, it has hampered their efficiency while calling on both the EEDC and the Transmission Company of Nigeria to help them in ensuring they provide effectively the water needs of the people of Enugu State.
On the payment of water rates by residents of the state, Mr. Aneke urged residents in the state to develop the habit of paying their water bills as at when due. He bemoaned the ugly development where they had to keep announcing and practically begging people to pay for what they were supplied for the month even after bills have been sent to them. He also encouraged them to always come to their office to lay their complaints when the need arises or when any of their pipeline damages. He assured of their prompt response approach once any complaint is brought to their notice.
He further advised that with the next World Bank grant coming, focus should be shifted on revitalizing their pumping facilities at Ajali-Owa and Oji River to standard so as to help them serve the state better.