State water boards or authorities were primarily established to manage water services in the metropolitan areas of individual states.
They ensure the supply of potable water in urban areas as well as control and manage all waterworks and ground water in states.
Daily Trust however reports that the water needs of residents in most urban cities have over powered the supply due to accelerated urbanization, growing populations as well as poor funding and neglect of the water boards.
Our correspondents report on the high and low points of state water boards in selected northern states.
Urban renewal hindering water supply in Kaduna
There are lamentations from residents of Kaduna metropolis over the lack of adequate tap water supply though Daily Trust gathered that part of the problem is related to the ongoing urban renewal projects of the main city, which has to do with the upgrading of facilities in the metropolis, Zaria and Kafanchan.
Salisu Suleiman who resides in Unguwar Dosa, a community within the metropolis, told our correspondent that water only runs from their pipes once in three months. “This is why I have decided to construct a bore hole in my house,” he said.
A staff of the Kaduna State Water Corporation who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the urban renewal project of the state government was responsible for the shortage of water supply around the metropolis.
On the condition of workers at the water board, he told Daily Trust that most workers are overworked, following a mass sack of workers at the beginning of the year. “The state government is trying with the salary even though our March salary was delayed because of a verification exercise, we were told. Most of the staff in my department have been sacked and so I do most of the work, including the cleaning since the cleaners were equally sacked.
“The moment you complain over the workload, they will ask you to resign if you cannot cope,” he said.
Our correspondent visited the Malali Water Plant and reports that few workers were seen at the plant. The administrative building which houses the offices looked old with shattered window glasses and doors. Its faded paint was an indication that the building had been neglected over the years. It was the same for the staff quarters which was obviously in need of renovation.
The Deputy Manager of Kaduna State Water Coporation (KADSWAC), Aminu Suleiman Soba, told Daily Trust that the lack of regular water supply within the city was due to the ongoing projects. He said most of the affected communities where the renewal projects were ongoing must exercise patience pending when the road construction will be completed.
“If works on drainages are done, the water board will return some of the pipes removed because the urban renewal is part of the issue partially contributing to the lack of water supply but whatever suffering the people are going through with regards to shortage of water supply is temporary,” he said.
“There are other communities that have experienced similar issues but are now enjoying water except communities with large populations and you know the capacity of the water plant is to only serve a particular number of people.”
He said this was why the state government was embarking on network expansion, adding that “It is why even our pumps at the treatment plant were replaced with modern and high-capacity equipment.”
“He said having spent N1.8bn to change most of the equipment, the state government has rehabilitated the two water works. “The contractor has done about 92 percent of the work so by the time the urban renewal is complete, normal water supply will return as soon as possible. As you know, we have 12 water plants across the state.”
On the recent dismissal of workers of the water board, he said 33 workers were affected, adding that they were sacked as a result of various offences ranging from misappropriation of funds, lack of qualifications, theft, inability to perform while others were relieved on medical grounds.
“There is also going to be a billion-dollar project here in the state just like what happened at the Zaria water plant, they called it Regional water supply scheme.”
Poor funding, mechanical challenges setback for Kogi’s water scheme
Water supply in Lokoja by the Lokoja Greater Water Treatment Plant in Ganaja, Kogi State, has suffered serious set-backs for almost five years. The plant had prior to now supplied water throughout the day for water consumers especially in the areas that it was reticulated.
The purvey of the water then was as a result of N100m operational fund to the Chinese firm that constructed and managed it. However, some five years ago, our correspondent learnt from dependable sources that government accused the managers of the Lokoja plant of sharp practices thereby reducing the amount to N30m.
The operation was later contracted to a consultant at the cost of N50m operational fund which was later revoked for N30m, N15m and later N7m to the management of the plant.
A visit to the board in Ganaja depicted a picture of dissatisfied pockets of staff discussing in low tones, and who were not ready to speak to our correspondent. However, a picture of deserted offices and a few privileged individuals who come to fetch water from the board was observed.
The General Manager of the plant, Engineer Abdulsalam Sagir, said the water scheme was in a very good condition and functional, even though he acknowledged what he described as “surmountable challenges.”
According to him, “the supply is regular,” but “We have problems of power supply, electrical and mechanical challenges.” He however declined to comment on the fluctuating operational funds to the board.
He asserted that in the process of fixing these problems, water supply to the consumers is disrupted. “Funds actually are not available the way they should but because there are other competing needs that we have to attend to, we have been able to weather the storm,” the General Manager said.
While assuring water consumers of the preparedness of the scheme to attend to their needs promptly, Engineer Sagir called on them to maintain installations properly to help the board satisfy them.
Makurdi’s water works provides new hope for residents
What is known today as the Greater Makurdi Water Works in Benue State was designed in 1978 with a capacity to supply 18,000 cubic meters of water per day.
This, however, elapsed its life span by the year 2000, a development which prompted the then state government to within the same year conceive the idea of Greater Makurdi Water Works to meet the growing demand of at least 330,000 people and a projection of supplying 47,000 cubic meters daily with an installed capacity of 50,000 cubic meters per day.
The dream of the new water works was actualized during the eight years reign of Governor Gabriel Suswam between 2007 and 2015 and the gigantic project which had raised the hopes of residents was short lived as the problem of reticulation compounded the efforts of meeting the water needs for all.
A former General Manager of the Benue State Water Board, Engr. Michael Dzungu, had in a previous interview with our correspondent disclosed that the problem facing water supply in Makurdi was basically reticulation or lack of pipe network to transport the water to the people as the old network had been characterised with weak pipes and major leakages around the town.
Speaking with our correspondent in Makurdi, the new General Manager, Shenge Gideon, who also conducted our correspondent around the water works project in Makurdi, expressed satisfaction with the current equipment on ground.
He noted that the state government was working assiduously for constant water to be achieved for every household in the state with the purchase of enough chemicals for water production at the water works.
Gideon said that the board has continued to supply safe and potable drinking water for the public despite encountering some difficulties arising from faulty transformers a month ago, which made it reduce the hours of pumping from seven to three daily while admitting that they had not yet extended water lines to those areas in Makurdi where residents presently face severe hardship.
“The only way to give new layouts water is to extend our pipes. It’s a capital project handled by the ministry. Surely this week, there will be improvement of water supply. We will use the new plant in the day time and the old one at night. We have repaired all leakages. We repair the leakages within 24 hours. Everyplace will get water now,” he explained.
Gideon maintained that the electricity needed to supply water became a challenge when the transformer the board was relying on failed and they had to resort to buying diesel which is expensive to pump water.
He added, “The installed capacity of the greater water works is 50,000 out of which we are using only 28,000 now. We will move up to 35,000 or 40,000 when the renovated water works with a capacity of 18,000 cubic metres is handed to us by the contractor.
Also speaking, the Director Maintenance at the Water Works, Achamber Clement, said that the old plant under rehabilitation was 90 percent completed and test running, adding that it would even perform higher than its capacity when put to use.
Private businesses cash in on water from Plateau water board
The operational centre of the Plateau State Water Board located at Murtala Mohammed Way by Dogon Karfe area, in Jos, was full of activities when our correspondent visited. Private water tankers come in to get their tanks filled and then proceed to supply communities with water scarcity.
The Laminga dam is the source of water for the reservoir of the water board and it comes without any obstruction along the line. Apart from the private tankers who get the water at a cheaper rate for onward sale to consumers, community members who come directly to the water board fetch the water for free.
The building, though old fashioned and without any recent facelift, still looked strong while the staff were seen engaged in one activity or the other within the office premises.
A source told our correspondent that most of the equipment at the water board were outdated and this has hampered the advanced operations of the board. The source however said state-of-the-art equipment requested for were yet to be delivered.
It was gathered that the machines and chemicals that will ensure proper quality control of the water before it is being pushed out has been exhausted. The available basic chemical so far used in the treatment of water and its purification is alum, lime and chlorine.
On the welfare of workers, it was learnt that there is no problem regarding their salaries as the state government has been up-to-date in the payment of salaries and allowances.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Acting General Manager of the Water Board, Stella Buge, proved abortive as she neither picked her calls nor responded to text messages. Our correspondent had visited the administrative office of the board to speak with her but the effort was futile.
Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Adama John (Lokoja), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna) & Dickson S. Adama (Jos)