Residents in many parts of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, have been lamenting over lack of potable water in the metropolis.
Many of the residents have resorted to trekking many kilometres to highbrow areas like the Government Reservation Area in Ilorin with jerry cans to fetch water for their daily use.
The scarcity of water has resulted in a thriving borehole business in the ancient city as drillers are making a fortune from residents who are being compelled to have boreholes in their homes to have water.
In Ilorin, the people are complaining that the government doesn’t seem to realise it's its responsibility to give priority to provision of good water.
The Ilorin metropolis has three water dams (Asa, Agba and Sobi), which are believed possess the capacity to supply water to every part of the city and take care of any expansion in the future.
The Ilorin Water Reticulation project, which was designed to make water available to the nooks and crannies of Ilorin metropolis, is one of the major projects inherited by the outgoing administration of Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed from his predecessor, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
The project, which was stated to have cost N6.5 billion, involves a water distribution network that will provide water routes to the consumers after it has been collected and treated, and was commissioned on November 18, 2018 by Governor Ahmed. At the commissioning, the list of the water routes was published.
Speaking at the commissioning of the project, Ahmed said successive administrations from the inception of the state in 1967 had effected many interventions aimed at improving water supply in the state capital and, indeed, the entire state,
He regretted that those efforts, however, did not yield more than four million gallons per day up till 2003.
Ahmed, who said that the Bukola Saraki administration implemented the first phase of the project that was partly financed under the N17bn bond facility obtained by the state government in 2009, added that further efforts geared towards improving the supply between 2003 and 2008 raised the production to 25.5m gallons per day.
The governor said, "With the completion of this phase, it is safe to say that we have recorded significant milestones in our effort to ensure that every resident has access to water within a 500-metre radius. This project also takes us closer to achieving one of the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) No. 6, which aims to achieve universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by the year 2030.
"With today's commissioning, 48,000 homes located along the following routes will now enjoy clean and affordable water. The routes are Eastern Reservoir to Oja Oba, Eastern Reservoir to Taiwo Road, Western Reservoir to Sobi, Maraba to A Division, and Baboko Market to Abdulazeez Attah Road.
“Others are Taiwo Isale to St. John Church, Government High School to Abdulazeez Attah Road, Oja Oba to Oloje, Abdulazeez Attah to Taiwo Isale, Basin Road to Mayode Hotel and Umaru Audi to Jebba Road."
He explained that the network was supplemented with standpipes at 130 different locations across the Ilorin metropolis, while arrangements were at advanced stages to award the contract for a 310km Tertiary Reticulation Network that would expand the water supply coverage in Ilorin to 105,000 households.
Unfortunately, residents have continued to criticise the state government for mounting water taps they said were not supplying water to their communities.
They argued that the multi-billion naira taxpayers-funded project had not improved the water scarcity problem in their communities in any way.
Two Ilorin residents, Alfa Ibraheem Olanrewaju and Alhaj Issa Tepatan, expressed disappointment on learning of how much the state government had "wasted on a project that is not functioning and we are not benefiting from", adding that the state government had really failed them on water supply.
And contrary to the claim by the Kwara State government to have domiciled the Ilorin Water Reticulation project in many areas, the residents said that there was none in many parts of the city.
Residents of a few places like parts of the Emir Road, Ita Ajia and Ile Film admitted that the mounted pipes in their areas have been supplying water regularly.
According to a survey by a Kwara State-based non-governmental organisation, Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) on the project, most parts of the areas where the pipes run still suffered from water unavailability.
The coordinator of the group, Dr Alagbonsi Abdullateef, said they did find water in some of the areas they visited, which partly agreed with the list of locations published by the Kwara State government after Gov Ahmed commissioned the project.
"Based on the ENetSuD extensive and independent investigation, we found that the project is a failure in 90 per cent of the places we visited during our survey. Consequently, ENetSuD has had series of interface with the Kwara State government on the findings from our investigation.
"The major excuse being presented by government is a power problem from the IBEDC. However, this excuse is not acceptable to us, as the government is not expected to solely rely on IBEDC power source for a N6.5 billion project.
"It was expected that a project that is worth such a huge amount would have incorporated its alternative power source independent of the IBEDC. How there is still water scarcity in Ilorin despite this over-celebrated project by Kwara State Government is a shame," Abdullateef said.
The group, therefore, called on the government to ensure that the taxpayers-funded Ilorin Water Reticulation project works for residents of Kwaran State by providing water adequately. It added that the success of the N6.5bn project would not be measured by the number of pipes erected, but only by regular availability of water for the citizens.
Efforts made to speak with government officials on the issue were unsuccessful. The Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State governor, Dr Muideen Akorede, directed our correspondent to the office of the General Manager, Kwara State Water Corporation.
But the General Manager was not in the office, and when contacted on the phone, he pleaded he would not want to discuss the issue over the line as he was not in town.