Kwara: Embracing Mobile Water Tanker In 21st Century. By UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB
The perennial water crisis in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital has continued despite claims by the Kwara state government to have committed billions of naira to fund water reticulation projects.
Every morning, it is a common sight to see women and children carrying basins on their heads in search of water to prepare food and carry out other house chores before setting out for the day’s work or before the children go to school.
Many trek long distances away from their homes to look for potable water not minding it purity since there is no alternative source.
Pipe born water no longer run in many homes while many compound where wells were dug no longer have water for drink, because they have all dried up due to effects of the dry season and pressure on them.
The state government had claimed that the expansion of the city coupled with growing population and rusted water pipes were responsible for the water shortage being experienced in most parts of the state.
A 2004 report of the Kwara State Planning Commission also revealed that: "water supply is very poor in most parts of the state. Access to potable water in urban areas is estimated at 40% of the entire population of about 2.2 million."
The report added that much of the infrastructure (water works, storage reservoirs, pumping stations and distribution networks) was poorly maintained and performing below designed capacity. The Asa and Agba waterworks, which service the State capital, produced only 69 million litres per day, only 50% of its capacity, due to the poor management of the dams’ facilities. And in rural areas, the situation was even worse as people would have to travel as far as 5 kilometres to access water".
Both the federal and state governments had attempted to tackle this issue, but little progress had been made.
As a palliative measure to address the crisis, the senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki constituency office and the state government recently floated an ‘‘emergency’’ water distribution scheme using water tanker to distribute water to residents as a way of cushioning the effect of water crisis on the residents of the state .
The water palliative scheme been managed by Kwara State Water Corporation is expected to run for an initial two months pending the completion of ongoing water projects that will make public water supply available at every 500 meters across the state.
The state government had also commenced the distribution of water in Ilorin metropolis to reduce the hardship being experienced by residents due to water scarcity.
Similar to the state government's intervention is a demand driven water palliative driven by the constituency office of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Tagged Team ABS, the scheme supplies water to Ilorin neighbourhoods once requests are made to a dedicated telephone line manned 24hrs by project staff.
But critics in the state, largely members of opposition, like the People Democratic Party in the state have decried the palliatives introduced by Saraki and the current administration in the state.
Rust water tanks
They said the water tanks being used for the water distribution were "rust tank" and that such water were not fit for human drinking.
"The last time water runs in our pipe was during the last Eidel Kabir festival, we have been mgoing through serious hardship our wells have dried off because of the dry season ,This is an age long problem ,i don't know when the government will solve this problem," said a resident Okelele are of Ilorin who would not mention her name
The PDP made its position known through their weekly radio programme being aired on Radio Hramony Fm station.
Many residents of Ilorin who spoke with our correspondents on condition of anonymity also said they have not been drinking the water
The water reticulation projects started during Saraki's administration as governor of Kwara state and have continued up till date.
In response to the agitation of the people, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed administration alleged that some facilities of the water project were being destroyed by some vandals, which he said was affecting the success of its ongoing water reticulation project .
The state’s Commissioner for Water Resources, Barrister Abdulrazaq Akorede who made the allegation while featuring on a radio programme together with the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Alhaji Mahmud Ajeigbe.
He expressed optimism that with the level of work done so far, the project would be completed in the next four to five months.
Akorede also revealed that the state and federal governments have carried out interventions on some water projects across the State such as the Malete waterworks and expansion of Agba Dam waterworks, which is almost completed.
According to him, the construction of the Malete waterworks, which was facilitated by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has been completed and will soon be commissioned.
He added that the state government will also work on the Oyun waterworks.
The commissioner commended Dr. Saraki, for initiating the Ilorin water reticulation project, and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed for sustaining it.
He said that the water reticulation project when completed, will address the water shortage in Ilorin, while also appreciating the patience of people of the state while the project lasts.
Sigh of relief
While assuring that the people of the state would soon heave a sigh of relief ,the Senior Special Adviser to the state governor on Media and Communication ,Dr Muiden Akorede said the state governor had approved the testing of the water reticulation projects carried out so far.
According to a statement by the governor's media aide the testing will last for three months after which water supply will reach previously served areas as well as a significant part of the metropolis.
The stamen also revealed that governor Ahmed has also approved the diversion of water mains to the Western reservoir and other overhead tanks which are responsible for fifty per cent of water supply to the capital city.
This, according to the statement, involves the temporary relocation of the affected water pipes in order to restore water to the areas of the city previously fed prior to the current disruption. The diversion work will last four weeks.
The statement noted that the affected water pipes had been sunk since the early 1970's but were affected by some ongoing projects in the state.
Akorede noted that the pipe relocation is a palliative designed to ameliorate the scarcity of water as well as restore normal operations of the Ilorin Water Supply Scheme.