There is no doubt that availability of potable water to the citizenry has been a major problem particularly in almost all parts of the country as efforts so far made by various governments have not yielded positive results.
In those old good days, potable water (pipe borne water) was always available in homes in most parts of the urban areas people were expected paid water rate at the end of every month which also served as one of the sources of generating revenue for governments.
Present governments have abandoned so many water projects across the country established by previous administrations and allowed them to decay, instead of rehabilitating them for the use of the public.
In the rural areas, so many communities do not have any good sources of potable water and some have to resort to drinking water from stagnant ponds and rivers which results in afflictions from water-borne diseases.
Resorting to self-help, many people decided to engage in construction of substandard water boreholes in various parts of Abia State despite efforts so far made by the present administration of Okezie Ikpeazu to address the situation.
There is hardly any home in the urban areas of the state that does not have a borehole.
Those who cannot afford it rely on commercial borehole water sellers thereby making many not to even bother whether there is a public water supply from government or not.
The proliferation of borehole source of water has led to many of such boreholes not being sunk according to specifications to get to level of good source of potable water,
Experts have warned that those who use water from such sources risk falling victim of water borne diseases.
Abia State government has raised the alarm that it was not comfortable with the way Abians are patronising borehole water sellers and therefore, has resolved to work round the clock to ensure that every nook and cranny of the state gets good drinking water regulated from the public tap.
Dike Nzenwa, permanent secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities and Water Resources in an interview with BDSUNDAY in his office on what the government of Abia state has done in the area of provision of potable water for Abians, said that Governor IKpeazu was leaving no stone unturned in his determination to solve the water problem in the state.
He further said that the governor was investing heavily on the provision of water which he noted was essential to human life and economic enhancement of the state, adding that boreholes are springing up here, which is an ugly development.
Nzenwa pointed out that the government is aware of numerous side effects of untreated bore holes which causes ill-health, diseases such as Typhoid fever, Cholera and other water borne diseases.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that Ikpeazu has vowed to ensure that potable water is provided to Abians in order to reduce the spread of these diseases.
He further said that the government has committed substantial amount in this regard.
He cited the Ozuitem Surface Water Scheme in Bende LGA, project the cost of which is put at N61.017million while work is said to have gotten up to 55 percent completion, while that of Nnamdi Azikiwe Civil Service Secretariat, Umuahia, Water Borehole Scheme valued at N14 million, with N3 million paid as mobilisation, while work is 21percent completed under direct labour.
“The government has also rehabilitated water projects in three communities as Ezi na Erim Civil centre, Nsirimo in Umuahia South valued at N7.5 million with work reaching 15.5 percent completion; Umudike Ohia River in Ikwuano LGA contract valued at N101 million yet to commence,” he said.
According to him, other projects are Umuobiakwa Obingwa LGA Water Scheme put at N53.3 million yet to commence; Akanu Item in Bende LGA N145.7million, work yet to commence; Abariba in Ohafia LGA Water Scheme contract handed over to contractor to commence, the value of which is N27.4 million.
The Perm Sec maintained that the government has put in place efforts to end the glaring problems of water in the state by rehabilitating the moribund “Umuahia Regional Water Scheme, at Umuopara Umuahia South LGA and that of Ohafia Water Scheme, assuring that once these are achieved, the issue of commercial borehole water sellers would be a thing of the past in the state.
He hinted that Abia State government was collaborating with “E WASH” in this regard, adding the USAID programme wanted to take up the problem of Umuahia Regional Water Scheme which services the whole of Umuahia and beyond but for the capital intensive nature of the project; that the state government through the Federal Government has approached Belfiux Bank in Belgium for a loan facility of 20 million Euros for the total turnaround maintenance of two major water schemes in the state.
He added that the loan facility was included in the 2018/2020 External borrowing plan of the Federal Government.
He also said: “Effective Water Sanitation and Hygiene (E WASH) has come to the aid of the state government by requesting them to pay counterpart funding to enable them provide equipment and materials worth N1.1 billion,” adding that Abia State would join their counterparts to declare a state of emergency on Water and Governor Ikpeazu would soon give a date for such declaration as well as signing a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with USAID.
He also spoke on the Review of Water Policy under the auspices of E-WASH that would make Water Board and Ministry of Public Utilities and Water Resources more effective and efficient on provision of water to Abians.
“There is an idea of sinking industrial borehole for an interim treated portable water to Urban areas and that N170 million counterpart funding for the state and Governor Okezie IKpeazu has ordered the release of N50 million and directed the contractor to go to the site, among other measures put in place,” he said.
UDOKA AGWU, UMUAHIA.