Reporter : AMECHI ODO –
Water scarcity, especially during the dry season, has become phenomenal in Abakaliki the capital of Ebonyi State since its creation in 1996.
This is despite multi billion Naira water projects embarked upon by successive administrations in the area.
In this report, Correspondent takes a look at the experiences of the residents in sourcing their water needs and efforts of the government to address the problem.
In 2017, the World Health Organisation estimated that about seven hundred and eighty-five million people lacked basic drinking water supply, including one hundred and forty-four million people who were dependent on ordinary surface water.
It also projected that in 2025, half of the world population would be living in water stressed areas.
To create access to portable water in Ebonyi State, the immediate past administration built a multi billion Naira Oferekpe Water scheme with installed capacity of One hundred million litres.
In spite of the huge investments, a resident of Abakaliki, Mr. Enyinnaya Mkpuma said pumping of water from the plant did not last beyond two days.
‘’The water was circulating within Abakaliki town but the major challenge then was the pipes were leaking and because of the leakage they decided to cut if off,’’ Mr. Mkpume narrated.
Worried by the development, Ebonyi State Government, some time in 2016, embarked on massive rehabilitation of all water plants and their distribution networks.
Governor David Umahi mentioned reintegration of Oferekpe Water Scheme with Ezilo Water Treatment Plant, rehabilitation of Sacamori pipeline network facility to supply water to Ezza North and South as well as the rehabilitation of water distribution network Abakaliki as part of the project.
‘’The third one is to address the water challenges in Ohaozara. Already we have water treatment plant there so what we want to do is to build water storage tank at Agugwu and build another one at Ugwulangwu,’’ Governor Umahi stated.
Five years down the line, majority of the people of the state say they are yet to have access to portable water except for few weeks in 2017 and 2019
As a result of government’s inability to provide portable water supply to the people, a cross section of property owners sunk boreholes from where they also sell water to members of the public.
A resident of Abakaliki, Mrs. Hannah Chukwu said she spent at least five hundred Naira to buy water from borehole daily as well as sachet water bags, which were imported mainly from the neighbouring Enugu State.
‘’We have been getting water from the well since the onset of dry season, we go to the borehole to get water, we feel bad about it because we cannot use borehole to cook. For example, if you use borehole to cook something like rice, it changes the colour and if you cook it in the morning before evening it has melted,’’ Mrs. Chukwu lamented.
The situation is more worrisome as many water boreholes in the state yield water only at the peak of rainy season while some others contain high level of impurities and not good for even cooking.
Responding, the Commissioner for Water Resources in the state, Mr. Sunday Inyima, blamed the situation on COVID-19 outbreak, which he claimed stalled the rehabilitation efforts in Oferekpe and contractual issues surrounding the pumping of water from Ezilo Treatment Plant.
“I want to believe that having taken care of the pandemic, the contractors are back on site, possibly by the beginning of next year people will start having water and even before then if we are able to conclude with the contractor of Ezilo by next week certainly people will have water,’’ the Commissioner promised.