From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
scarcity of water has become a perennial problem in Ekiti State owing largely to the disadvantaged rocky terrain of its landscape.
In dry season, December of a preceding year to April of the following year, water becomes not an essential commodity but also very scarce one in the state. The wells in most houses would dry up, while the few boreholes and public pipe borne water system cannot cater for the people.
The consequences of this include crippling business activities that require adequate water supply, groaning from angry and frustrated residents whose search for water continue to end in futility and crowded sites of few public water pipes.
Mrs. Adesanya Mary, owner of a restaurant, represents many of the business owners and proprietors in Ado-Ekiti. Like her colleagues, she is usually happy during the dry season as water scarcity at such period cripples her business:
“Many of us who have business of restaurants, sell drinks, pepper soups and fishes and other businesses that require daily supply of water usually have challenges of scarcity of water during the dry season. This is because at this time, the wells in Ado-Ekiti and other adjourning towns usually dry up.
“There are no boreholes in these areas and the few pipe borne water systems provided by the government cannot cater for the high population of people living in the state capital and needing water for survival.
“The dry season starts from early December of the year and last till April of the succeeding year. We want to urge the government to build more boreholes for us in Ado-Ekiti, especially for areas where we do business. We would not mind to pay to get water from these boreholes as we know it is expensive to construct boreholes. Government can solve the perennial problem of scarcity of water in the state.”
Mrs. Titilayo Aduloju is a resident of Oke-Ila Street, Idolofin. She relayed the agony an average resident goes through to get water during the dry season: “We thank the government for doing this water facility for us in Idolofin community. But we want to urge the government to kindly do something for our neighbours in Omi-Olori community.
“Most times, they have to trek almost a kilometer to this community to fetch water from this public tap because they don’t have one. That is why this place is always very crowded. Many of the wells we have in this community and even in Ekiti run dry during the dry season. That is why we usually have scarcity of water at this period.
The public water tap in the neighbourhood cannot serve everyone at a time. It doesn’t also flow everyday, it comes once in a week. It is usually crowded whenever it flows even when the tap water runs, it doesn’t run for long. It only runs for two or three hours in a week. That way, it doesn’t cater for a quarter of the people of the area before it stops running.”
Pa Babare Aladelokun, a resident of Iloro, Ado-Ekiti, is a retired mechanic with the old Ondo State Water Corporation. He spoke of the pains people in the community have been going through for over 15 years due to inadequate water supply:
“In those days whenever there was scarcity of water, we used to inform the general manager of the water corporation. He in turn would inform the area engineer of the particular area needing assistance. The area engineer would find out why there was no water in the area and recommend what the corporation should do.
“It used to be a very effective method then. Area engineers were very effective and used to urgently find solution to such challenges. But these days, I cannot say what happens now as we are having issues of scarcity of water. I retired about 34 years ago.
“Of recent, we had series of landlords’ meetings and resolved to meet our area engineer at the water corporation. He promised to look into the matter and ensure we have water in very few days time. But till he left as our area engineer he didn’t do anything.
“Later they brought a woman as our area engineer. We went to her but she also ended up not fulfilling her promise to help us. This was about 15 years ago. We have decided to forget expecting anything from the corporation since they haven’t been able to fulfill their promises to us till date. They only gave us sweet talk and lofty promises but ended up not fulfilling them.
“The last time we visited them the area engineer said retirees like us who have worked with the corporation ought to be enjoying the services of the corporation. She boasted she would ensure we have water very soon. It has been 15 years now we still do not have water in this area.
“The only way the challenge of scarcity of water in the state can be surmounted is when we tell Governor Ayodele Fayose to wade in. He is a man who fulfills his promises. Once he says he would do something he does it.
“We want to urge him to promptly help us solve this perennial water problem plaguing us. For us in this community, the government can simply build a borehole for us. That would be more effective than a well which easily drys up because of the rocky topography of this area.”
However, for Chief Eniola Afolabi Faguwaro who administers Idolofin Quarters on behalf of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe, getting water is not really a serious challenge: “Our case is peculiar here because this is a very rocky area. We cannot dig well here. We can only run pipes that would convey water from the reservoir in Oke-Ila.
“But government people have tried for us. They brought the pipe borne water you are seeing in front of my house. They did this for me because I am a chief and leader in this community. Every household around me are benefiting from this water system.
“Former Governor Fayemi had run the pipe that brought this water from the reservoir. Since Governor Fayose came, he has been sustaining that legacy in spite of the now lean purse of the state government. Fayose has been treating the water for us and we can drink it apart from using it for bathing and for other domestic uses.
“Also, because of my position, the water corporation officials have been helpful. Whenever my people in the community cry to me that they cannot get water, I usually call them and they would bring the water and we would fetch it just as you are seeing now. Some officials have come from Abuja and this is what I have told them.
“However, this is not to say that some of our neighbouring communities do not need government help on adequate supply of water. There is still an urgent need for government to run pipes to other communities in Ado-Ekiti and our other towns so that water could be available to everyone.”
Meanwhile, government is already making efforts to solve Ekiti perennial water scarcity problem through a recent effort to collaborate with the World Bank on its Third Urban Water reform sector programme.
This was made known in a meeting Fayose had with a team of the bank led by Mr. Khairy Al-Jamal, Project Third National Urban Water Sector Reform, GM, Ekiti Water Corporation, Mrs. Bisi Agbeyo and Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Bode Fasoyin, acting National Coordinator, Third National Urban Water Project.
Al-Jamal revealed details of the sector’s $55 million project in the state, which is to fast rack water provision. He said the water project would cover three aspects of water provision. This include rehabilitation of dams such as the Aero Dam, implementing the rehabilitation to provide water and distributing the water to the people:
“We will push the implementation, while the distribution of the water to people would need to be taken care of by you. For instance, through a recent visit to Aero Dam, we have found out that its pumping capacity is low. We will take care of this. We need to strengthen ties on investment, capacity building and human capital training. Our noble goal is to utilize the resources. All citizens have right to service and obligation to pay for the services and water being an essential service is very important.
“We also want to stress the importance of continuity and consultancy and training and building human resources. All these have to continue to shorten the time of development and reduce chances of failure.
“While we appreciate your support as a government in creating the newly established water corporation, we hope they would be able to shoulder their responsibility of financial challenges in future. We as World Bank will continue to support. We are in one board working towards success.
“Transformational involvement is expected in some months. We have been doing well on procurement and others from the government to overcome the bureaucracy.”
Fayose assured the team of support: “We appreciate you as you have answered all my questions. I wanted to opt out of the project because since it started two years but we haven’t achieved anything on it.
“The bureaucracy with the World Bank has been worrisome. But from what you have said, it shows you mean business and has what it takes to assist us as you have promised to reduce the bureaucracy. I want the project done in my time, so please match action with words so we can appreciate what you are doing.
“On our part, be assured of my cooperation in signing all files from the project. I also want to advise you that for a project of this magnitude, you have to do a lot of sensitisation for our people. If you don’t do that it will be a waste of time.
We will have to do a lot of sensitization for the people on the project and we will also support it.”