A visit to Ago-Oba, a community in the heart of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, anytime of the day would see many residents on queue scooping water from burst pipes in unkempt conditions, a development many said has been the practice in the area for sometime due to acute water scarcity.
“If you come to this place by 2am, you will see people scooping water,” a seven-year-old boy told EKO TRUST.
While many scooped water from the pipes, others did so from holes dug for their convenience. It was gathered that water flows from ruptured water pipes when Governor Ibikunle Amosun undertook road rehabilitation and construction of an overhead bridge in the area some years back.
An adult who gave his name as Michael said he has been fetching water from a popular spot located by the road side for about six 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, while some wells were levelled when the road project was in progress. Government, however, failed to fix the pipe after the completion of the road project. People have no option; this is the only place they can fetch water since there is no provision of potable water by the government,” Michael told our correspondent.
Findings by EKO TRUST revealed that the Ago-Oba scene depicts the recurrent water scarcity in major areas of the Abeokuta metropolis and other parts of the state. Among areas affected in the state capital are Ita-Eko, Surulere, Kolobo, Amolaso, Isale Igbein, Leme, Sapon and Isabo.
One of the residents in Ita-Eko, Segun Adesanya, 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 wells have dried off. As water is an essential commodity. I always buy 2,000 litres of water at the rate of N3,000 every three weeks”, he noted.
He added that private water suppliers now sell 1,000 litres for N2,000 instead of the old price of N1,500, adding that the community could not complain.
Some residents, especially in some parts 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 correspondent 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 wells and a few that have could not serve the population of the community. Second, there is no regular tap water supply from government.
“Third, the few that have boreholes can’t fuel their generators to pump water for people. They wait for electricity supply before they could pump for the general public.
Interestingly, as the 2019 elections beckon, some residents have demanded provision of water as a condition for any governorship candidate to earn their votes.
A Fulani community leader in Otapele, Imeko-Afon Local Government, Mohammed Saliu, told EKO TRUST that a genuine intention to address biting water scarcity in the area would be a condition for any candidate to win their votes in the next election.
“Our greatest challenge here is water. We trekked miles to get water. Whoever is committed to solving the problem will get our votes. We won’t compromise,” Saliu told our correspondent.
When contacted, the General Manager of the Ogun State Water Corporation, Engr. Monsurat Agboola, declined comments on the water scarcity situation. “Who told you there is water scarcity? I don’t talk to the Press,” Agboola told our correspondent in a telephone chat.
Agboola had recently promised the Corporation’s preparedness to increase its service from 517,093 customers to 2,960,889 in urban, semi urban and rural communities, from this year to 2021.
She spoke while defending the Corporation’s budget, saying the move was geared towards providing efficient, sufficient and sustainable water services at affordable rates to the entire people of the state.
She said beneficiaries would also include customers within a 67-km pipeline distance that were disconnected during the massive road construction projects across the state.
The Corporation budgeted a total sum of N9.1bn, with recurrent expenditure set at N1.6bn and a capital expenditure of N7.5bn, with a target revenue for the 2019 fiscal year aimed at N300m.
It is expected that the 2019 budget, which had been assented to by Governor Ibikunle Amosun, would address the perennial water challenge in the state.