In this report, JUSTIN TYOPUUSU takes a look at the water scarcity challenge facing Jalingo residents and efforts by Taraba State government and African Development Bank, AFDB, to end the scarcity in the capital city.
Scientific research has shown that water covers 70 per cent of the earth leaving only 30 per cent to dry land. In spite of this large volume of water, potable drinking water has been the problem facing many African countries. Considering the large portion occupied by water, water is expected to be very cheap and available almost for everyone. Ironically, however, water has remained one almost unavailable.
Efforts by African governments to make water available have led to establishment of water resources ministries at federal, regional and state levels in most countries. In Nigeria, for example, politicians have over the years listed the provision of potable water to citizens during campaigns as their priority if elected.
This is an attestation to the fact that water, though important, has become a rarity. It is not an overstatement to say that till date, millions of Nigerians have not seen a tap with water running from it. Many Nigerian citizens lack access to potable water, and as a result are open to diseases like cholera, typhoid, fever and diarrhoea among others because of the bad water they use, said Dr. Nadir Sanhir, a Nigeriabased Indian doctor.
Nigerian citizens shoulder the responsibilities that are supposed to be reserved for the government. For example, the average Nigerian provides almost all the basic necessities of life like water, electricity and healthcare. “They mobilise and patch roads in their communities and many drink in the same ponds with animals and nobody seems to care,” said Ms. Mimie John.
In Taraba, the pain of water scarcity has continued to bite harder on residents of Jalingo, the state capital, not to talk of those in the rural areas, especially during the dry seasons. This is despite efforts by successive administrations to provide water for the people. In Jalingo, accessing potable water by residents remains a major problem forcing residents of the city to rely on local water vendors popularly called Mai ruwa in Hausa and few streams stretching through the city and its environs. Public water supply has also remained exclusive for a few people.
In Mayo Dassa and Kona areas of the city, there are tales of woes and anguish whenever the stream that divides the two communities dries up during dry season. The stream is the only source of water for the people. When the stream dries up, residents of the communities are left with no other option than to buy from ‘Mai Ruwa’ (water vendors), whose source of water is unknown.
The cry for water resonates everywhere in the city. Residents of Lassandi, Sabon Gari, Roadblock, Mile Six and Aungwan Gaadi amongst others bemoan the recurrent shortage of water and have been calling on government to provide water for them. From Lankaviri in Lau to Chanchanji in Takum local government, Yorro to Kurmi, Ibi to Karim Lamido, it is commonplace to see animals competing with humans for water in open ponds without drainage system.
During his campaign for the governorship seat, Governor Darius Ishaku, in obvious recognition of the need to provide water for the people, sank boreholes in at least five communities even before elections were held. Water, they say, is life. The governor, on assumption of office, quickly moved in to complement his efforts in providing water for the people as part of his rescue mission. He immediately released N8 million to the state water board to ensure that water runs in the state capital.
With this move, taps are today running with water in some parts of the state capital. The governor, within the first three weeks in office, met with the African Development Bank, AFDB, where formalities were completed for adequate supply of water.
The agreement was signed in 2012. General Manager, Taraba State Water Supply Agency, Engr. Musa Buba, when approached for insight into the project, told National Mirror that AFDB granted the state a long term loan of N3.6 billion payable in 40 years with an additional moratorium of 10 years making it a total of 50 years for the provision of water in Jalingo and its environs.
“Taraba State government in 2009 approached the bank for a loan to enable the state provide water for her citizens and the loan was fully signed in 2012, but work did not commence until the governor took over office. As a former cabinet minister he knew what to do and he did, leading to the commencement of physical implementation this year.
“The demand of water in the first phase of the project between now and 2025 is put at 27,054m3 of water per day. And by 2035 we are expected to be generating 47,273m3 per day and this is our target and we hope to achieve it.”
Buba said that work on the water project were being handled by Apex Height, CGC, Ghasalaz and China Zhonghao who are doing the drilling and rehabilitation of existing boreholes totaling 40 across three locations in Jalingo, the state capital, as well as laying of transmission channels for conveying water to reservoirs covering 250 km in Jalingo and the new Jalingo settlements.
Allaying fears that the project would not be completed on schedule or that its funds would be diverted, the General Manager of the State Water Board said, “the project is being monitored by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water Resources and AFDB and we are not expecting any failure.”
“By the end of January, Jalingo residents will start seeing improvement in water supply. Mind you all the contracts were awarded by the African Development Bank, putting several things into consideration and we are not expecting any failure,” he assured. On how the water works would be maintained, Buba said the agency was not generating revenue at the moment because of poor service delivery, but he assured that when completed it would be commercialized and it will enable the agency to generate revenue.
With the speed at which work is progressing on the water works, water vendors in the state will soon be out of business. Mrs. Jamila Abdulhamid hailed the project, saying the water works, when completed, would help reduce the suffering faced by residents of Jalingo who buy water from vendors without knowing the sources.