One indispensable fact of life is the centrality of water to human existence, hence the efforts by successive governments at all levels in the country to ensure provision of potable water to the citizenry.
In Ekiti State, provision of pipe-borne water to the people has always been a priority of successive administrations since the creation of the state in 1996.
However, in spite of the huge annual budgetary provisions by past administrations, not much was achieved in this regard. Not only were hopes dashed, what some of them posted as achievements were also disputed by the people, who continued to depend on streams and wells for survival.
For instance, In Ado-Ekiti, a good percent of the populace did not have access to drinkable water before the coming of the present administration. The situation became compounded when the past administration, in a bid to improve water supply, entered into concession agreement with some firms to produce water from the existing dams for sale to Ekiti State Water Corporation.
The failure of the project to achieve the desired result led to its cancellation by the Kayode Fayemi administration, which directed the water corporation to revert to the status quo of producing and distributing water directly to the people, albeit with some major reforms and proper funding.
The governor approved funds for the corporation to procure the necessary inputs for the production of clean and drinkable water to the people, and one year later, there appears a light in the dark tunnel, with the steady supply of water to various communities in the state.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Infrastructure, Mr. Kayode Jegede, while reviewing the water situation in the state, noted that the administration’s target is to achieve 80 per cent coverage by 2014.
He added that the target would be met with the ongoing efforts at confronting the daunting challenges posed by the present state of the dams and rusty water pipes.
Jegede, who acknowledged the deep and complex challenges in the water sector, categorised them into four areas- technical, commercial, policy framework and organisational.
He listed the problems under the technical area to include degraded facilities, said: “Due to old age and lack of adequate maintenance over the years, the facilities are significantly degraded below design capacities.
“Pumps are old and weak. Some are totally missing, having been used as spares. Control panels are damaged.”
Besides, he noted that pipelines have been so long in the ground that most of them are rusty and brittle, hence they experience busts almost on daily basis.
Jegede also identified power supply to the dams as a major problem, saying booster stations were not only erratic and often lower than the required voltage, generators and transformers, which should have served as alternatives, are old and function poorly in many places.
He put the funds required for the revamping of the four dams at Ero, Ado, Egbe and Itapaji at N10 billion, adding that this estimate does not cover the pipelines, which are old and corroded.
To ensure the realisation of the 80 per cent coverage for the state, the state government has adopted a two-track approach by getting water flowing to the people, as much as possible, within the existing system and ongoing projects and finding permanent and sustainable solution.
To get water flowing to the citizenry, government has procured and installed a 2,500 KVA generator plant for Ero Dam.
Though confronted with the huge cost of diesel to power the generator, the government has continued to use the generator to pump water on daily basis.
The government has also completed the new pipeline from the Ureje Dam in Ado-Ekiti to Mary Hill Reservoir at Oke-Ila to boost water supply to the people living in Ajibade, Idolofin and Adebayo areas and the two housing estates in the state capital.
About 700 ductile pipes, worth N140 million, were laid to connect the Ureje Water Works with Mary Hill Reservoir, which was started 13 years ago, but was abandoned and never used.
According to Jegede, the laying of pipes, which was completed about three weeks ago, is currently undergoing a test-run, while finishing touches were being carried out in some areas where the pipes were joined to prevent leakages.
The state government has also laid more pipes under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve water distribution in the state capital, while in several communities, new water schemes have been installed, including at Ogotun, Ipole Iloro, Erinjiyan, Okemesi and Ido-Ile.
The Fayemi administration has also completed European Union (EU) assisted water projects in Orin, Ipao, Erio and Ipole-Iloro, in addition to the recently donated water plant in Ise-Ekiti by Guinness Nigeria Limited, which has been completed and commissioned.
As part of its policy of ensuring free flow of clean water to the people with the existing system, the state government has repaired 55 faulty hand pumps in Ekiti East, Efon, Ekiti West, Ise/Orun and Emure Councils.
Besides, it is carrying out a survey of all boreholes in the state for location and diagnosis, a process that has been completed in seven councils.
The present administration is also in the process of awarding contracts for the total revamping of Ado Water Works, while also commencing the process of award of last year’s MDGs project that will connect all the existing fetching points installed by the immediate past administration.
In its bid to find a permanent solution to the challenges posed by water supply, the state government is also collaborating with development partners, including the World Bank, EU and Africa Development bank (AFDB).
It is germane to note that AFDB has indicated interest in working with the state government to revamp Ero Dam, while the EU has included Ekiti among the three states to benefit from its next round of Water and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme.
The present administration has also, as part of its long term plans towards ensuring a continuous provision of water to the people, engaged a team of experienced water consultants to develop a water and sanitation master plan for the state.
This master plan has as key elements the State Water Supply and Sanitation Policy Development, Water Supply and Sanitation Law Drafting and Pre-Feasibility Study for Rehabilitation of Ero River Water Supply Scheme.
It is the belief of the state government that if both the short and long-term programmes of the present administration in the area of water supply are implemented, the vision of Governor Kayode Fayemi of achieving 80 per cent coverage would be accomplished before 2014.
Sayo is Senior Special Assistant (Media) to Ekiti State Governor
Last modified: March 3, 2012