There are growing concerns in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, over water scarcity. Amidst the difficulty, the multi-million naira Panseke-Onikolobo Water Supply Scheme meant to supply water to a section of the state capital is lying fallow. Our correspondent captures the state of the project as well as the plight of the underserved residents.
Tucked in between a road, a market and a motor park in the noisy Panseke area of Abeokuta, Ogun State, the multi-million naira Panseke-Onikolobo water supply scheme has no signpost to indicate the location, thereby making many, especially passers-by, oblivious of its existence. Yet, the project had existed for nearly ten years, without coming upstream.
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The contract for the construction of Panseke-Onikolobo water supply scheme in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of the State, was awarded to a company for N383 million in December 2012 and as at 2013, N204 million had been paid to the contractor. It was awarded through the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), as initiated by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.
A report from the Auditor General of the Federation indicated that during the physical inspection of the project in 2016, the project was discovered to be abandoned with most aspects of work claimed to have been executed now deteriorated.
Also, some items and equipment had been vandalised, a development that suggests that no value for money was derived from the project, the report added.
The report stated further that N33 million was unaccounted for on the project and therefore the AGF requested that “the Managing Director recover and refund to treasury the sum of N33million being expenditure not accounted for and forward recovery particulars for verification.”
When Daily Trust visited the scheme on Wednesday, the facility, which was meant to be a booster station for the Ogun State Water Corporation now lies fallow in the face of the biting water scarcity experienced by residents. From the gate to the pumping room and huge reservoir at the back of two-room office, it was observed that activities at the station had stopped for years.
Apart from an aged security man found in the premises, the structure looks lifeless from years of inactivity.
The station, it was gathered, was built to supply water to Panseke, Onikolobo, Gbokoniyi, Adigbe among other communities.
According to findings, the station has an underground reservoir of about 25,000 cubic centimeter where water from the main production station, at Akomoje, is stored, for onward distribution to Adigbe, Panseke, Onikolobo and other areas under the sub-station.
A top official at the State Water Corporation told our correspondent that the station, which began operation in 2015 had stopped work two years ago due to the road construction along Adigbe axis. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said the supply was cut to save the water pipes along the routes.
The official said “It was Dimeji Bankole who initiated contract. This place became operational since 2015. Since 2015, it has been working perfectly until two years ago. Two years ago, when they started Adigbe dualisation, that’s when we temporarily cut distribution of water to that area. They are at verge of completing the road, I believe we will resume operations soon.
“The pipes were excavated from the ground so that the contractors would have access to do what they want to do on the road. So, with pipes on the ground, when these earth rending machines are moving it, the pipes will get spoilt and at the same time, some of the pipes are within the range where the dualisation will take place.”
Another official of the corporation admitted that the project was not completed. “The project has not been completed especially at the Gbokoniyi section. When you get to Gbokoniyi before you ascend the bridge, you see the pipe with the head facing up, that means the project is yet to be completed. We have our machines at the station, one side supplies Adigbe, one side supplies Gbokoniyi, but that of Gbokoniyi has not been used. So, what we did (before we stopped supply of water) was that we gave Gbokoniyi water through from direct means,” the source said.
Biting scarcity as students scoop water from busted pipes
Most of the communities where the booster station is meant to supply water are dominated by students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ojere, Abeokuta.
A visit to Panseke-Onikolobo-Ojere road leading to MAPOLY, anytime of the day, one would see many residents, especially students, scooping water from busted pipes under unkempt conditions, a development many say has been the practice in the popular area.
“If you come to this place as you can see, you will see people scooping water from the busted pipes,” Titi, a student who had lived in Folami – Onikolobo area for about five years, told Daily Trust.
She said “From Onikolobo to Panseke, there is no water in that area. Along that route you will always see people scooping water from busted pipe in the gutter and other places. During dry season, there is no water at all. It is extremely bad.”
A resident of the area who gave his name as Michael said he has been fetching water from the popular spot located by the road side for about two years. According to him, many people used the water only for bathing and washing, but others go as far as drinking it.
“This has been the usual practice for many years. The water is flowing from destroyed pipes and the wells. The pipes were destroyed. Some of our wells were filled back with sand when road project was in progress. They were never fixed after the road project.
“There is water scarcity in this area and so, people have no option, this is only place they can fetch water since there is no provision of portable water by the government,” he told our correspondent in an interview.
Yusuf Adeleke, a student who lives in Iberekodo area of the state capital, said “the issue of water has been unbearable to my community, to the extent that we fight everyday just to get water. Despite the fact that we are very much closer to water corporation, we couldn’t enjoy any benefit. We suffer for water just like every other communities.
Some good Samaritans who have constructed a borehole in the community help the residents with water, however, to get electricity to pump water is another big challenge.
“We urge the government to help us do something, the issue of scarcity is becoming pandemic to the Abeokuta community.”
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the Onikolobo scenario depicted the recurrent water scarcity in major areas of Abeokuta metropolis and other parts of the state. Among areas affected in the state capital are, Ago-Oba, Ita-Eko, Surulere, Kolobo, Amolaso, Isale Igbein, Leme, Sapon and Isabo.
How residents pay through the nose for water
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that in the face of the scarcity residents of the state capital spend more money to buy water for their daily need.
A resident told Daily Trust on Sunday that he spends between N9,000 to N12,000 monthly to buy water.
“A tank costs N3,000 and we will exhaust it within a week. We have four weeks in month, so, roughly, I spent between N12,00 monthly. It’s that bad,” the resident who pleaded not to be named, told our correspondent.
One of the residents in Ita-Eko, Segun Adesanya described the development as “tiring.” He told our correspondent that he buys 2,000 litres of water at the rate of N3,000.
Adesanya said “Honestly, the water scarcity is a serious matter. No tap water and the well water has dried off. Like, you know, water is an essential commodity. I always buy 2,000 litres of water at the rate of N3,000 every three weeks.
“Now that I have a baby, it is every two weeks because of the washing and other things.
It is tiring, since, I moved into this area, no water. Government should please come to our aid.”
He added that “The private water suppliers sold 1,000 litres for N2,000 instead of N1,500 but we can’t complain because we need the commodity. The water we are talking about is even borehole not pipe borne water. Government should please come to our aid.”
However, some residents, especially in some part of Amolaso, Abeokuta South Local Government, have taken to the stream in the area, which is a stone’s throw to Government House, Isale-Igehin, for washing and bathing. Those who spoke with our reporter in the area blamed the biting water scarcity on irregular tap water supply by the state government’s agency.
Another resident, Mrs Azeezat Adeyemi explained why water scarcity persists. She said “Majority of houses don’t have well, and few that have can’t serve the population of the community. Secondly no regular tap water supply from government.
“Thirdly, the few that have borehole can’t fuel generator to pump water for people, they wait for electricity supply before they could pump for the general public,” he added.
‘Abeokuta to have regular water supply in June’
However, Governor Dapo Abiodun has promised that regular and improved water supply would be restored to Abeokuta and its environs, as soon as the ongoing rehabilitation work on a dam at Arakanga waterworks is completed in June.
Abiodun who just signed the payment of salary arrears for the State Water Corporation staff also expressed concerns over non availability of uninterrupted pipe borne water supply the state capital.
He disclosed that he had directed the management of Ogun State Water Corporation to come up with other water production and distribution infrastructure financing gaps for government’s intervention.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on improved water supply and sector reform, held in Abeokuta, the governor, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Olatokunbo Talabi, identified lack of maintenance of water production and distribution infrastructures as critical challenge across the state.
The governor, however, tasked management of the OGSWC to come up with immediate, medium and long term solutions with costs and time frame within the next one week with a view to addressing the problem.
He noted that the stakeholders’ meeting was also to identify issues surrounding water supply challenges in other parts of the state such as Sagamu, Ijebu Ode, Ilaro, Ota and Ijebu-Igbo, and urgently find solutions to the issues and restore potable water supply and distribution in Ogun.
While expressing his displeasure at the State Water Corporation’s high monthly overhead cost, which according to him, “does not reflect with its revenue generation”, Abiodun charged the Corporation’s management to redouble its efforts by ensuring that water is restored to all parts of the state without any delay.
However, efforts to get comment of the OORBDA management on the project proved abortive as the spokesperson of the Agency, Saliu Adeniyi insisted that a letter must be written to the agency.
“You have to make it formal. You will write formally to the Managing Director and he will direct the appropriate office to respond to your request,” Adeniyi told our correspondent.