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Mubi at risk of water-borne diseases

Malam Ahmadu Abubakar, a father of two, is a school teacher at a community school in Vintim. Due to acute water scarcity, the 35-year-old wakes…

Malam Ahmadu Abubakar, a father of two, is a school teacher at a community school in Vintim. Due to acute water scarcity, the 35-year-old wakes up as early as 5.30 am daily to search for water for the family’s domestic use before preparing for school.

Abubakar often gets to his place of work late because of the hours he wastes daily looking for water. “The water problem has been on for a long time yet government has not found a way around it. We have not only been forced to spend much money to buy water every day, but also, we have to spend viable time queuing up to buy water from few selling points available,” he lamented.

He has word for the government on the issue. “I am appealing to both the state and local governments to provide potable water for us.”

Abubakar’s plight reflects the troubles of most residents of Mubi town and environs. Stream, wells and rain which are the water sources of the residents of the town and communities around it, dry up this time of the year. Residents have to rely on water vendors whose sources are a handful of boreholes dug by relatively wealthy individuals for business. Even at that, most of the existing boreholes have broken down due to poor maintenance by the communities.

Residents expressed worry over acute water scarcity in the area. “We rely on water from the vendors despite its impurity. The water is sourced from hand pumps on river banks.

“It must be boiled and purified before consumption. The trend is causing a heavy drain in my pocket,” a resident complained.

Vendors and borehole owners make brisk business even as water points are far away from some residents. Prices of jerry can of water had increased as the scarcity bites harder with more water ponds, wells and streams drying.

For instance, a 20 liter of water from water hawker, locally called “Mai-Moya” cost N15 from the usual N10 as dry season immediately sets in and increased to N20.

A water vendor, who simply identified himself as Dan Azumi says he   makes about N1,000 a day due to high patronage.

Dan Azumi, who described the trade as ‘lucrative’, added that he purifies the water before selling it.

Another vendor, Suleiman Manu told Weekly Trust that he concentrates more on the business during   dry season. “During the rainy season when patronage is low, I concentrate on farming, and as soon as the rain ceases and water business peaked, I will join my colleagues. I always use the proceeds from water business to hire farm hand and also buy fertilizers during the rainy season.”

It is common place to see residents drive round with jerry-cans and buckets searching for water, while many women and children are often seen with buckets and other containers on their heads looking for the scarce commodity.

Families who cannot afford to buy water have to take trek long distances in search of stream and river, which water sources have not completely dried up. Apart from the distance, water from such sources is hardly safe for consumption

Mrs. Rejoice John, a resident said   “we only rely on the unwholesome water from hawkers, following the collapse of our few existing hand pumps.’’

Some residents complained about the indifference of the government and its officials to the acute water scarcity in the town.

Oga Bello, a local businessman, particularly bemoans the water situation in spite of the huge sum of money spent on the rehabilitation of Mubi Water Treatment Plant and construction of small scale water plants by the present and successive state administrations.

“All things being equal, Mubi should be supplying water to   neighbouring towns by now, but the residents are still searching for water to drink,” he lamented.

Mr Simon Tonpeyo, acting administrator, Mubi South Local Government Area, said the council has procured water tankers to enhance water supply. “We are providing free water to families in the affected areas; arrangement has been concluded to repair the obsolete hand pumps.”

Aisha Musa, a local food seller in the town, lamented that she spends an average of N1,600 daily on water for her food business, adding that the water situation is adversely affecting her trade. She urged the government to find a lasting solution to the perennial water problem in the town.

“I spend a lot to buy water and the situation is becoming quite worrisome.  The state and local government should find lasting solutions to our water problems.”

Sharing similar sentiments, a local government health worker who doesn’t want his name in print, said if the water problem is not resolved on time, it may lead to the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the town.

“This is because we are not sure that the water we buy from water vendors is hygienic and drinkable. We however, have no other choice than to continue to patronise them since they are the only viable alternative open to us,” he said.

The health official urged the state government to rehabilitate   the grounded Mubi water treatment plants and provide sufficient hand pumps, saying that the hand pumps and boreholes remain the major sources of potable water to the people of the town and its environs.

Sani Danladi, a water treatment expert said government could sink boreholes in strategic locations across the town, adding that such measure would alleviate the suffering of the residents while the government tries to fix the treatment plants.

Also speaking, Samson Aboki, an environmentalist, implored the government to urgently tackle the acute water shortage in Mubi   to prevent the outbreak of diarrhea, dysentery and other gastrointestinal diseases associated with drinking of unhygienic water.

Weekly Trust recalled that the Murtala Nyako administration reportedly said it has sunk over N2 billion in the rehabilitation and purchase of new equipment for the waterworks in Yola and other towns, including that of Mubi.  The government also claimed to have sunk industrial boreholes in many villages and towns across the state, yet portable water continue to elude the people of Mubi.

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