Lamentations and complaints best described the moods of commuters in the 10 communities in five local government of Anambra state earmarked since 2007 for provision of potable water supply by the European Union/ Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) water projects in Anambra state.
The 10 communities marked out for provision of portable water by the donor agencies collaborative venture with counterpart funding from the Federal Government, state government, local government and the community included Ochuche-Umuodu and Ogwu-Ikpele in Ogbaru local government; Achina and Ikenga town in Aguata local government.
Others are Akwu-Ukwu and Ojoto-Uno in Idemmili South local government; Ikem-Ivite and Eziagulu-Otu in Anambra East and Okpuno-Egbu and Umuanuka in Nnewi-North local government area.
At the last count, none of the efforts to provide water in the 10 communities have yielded any result 2 years after the programme started with many who would have been saved by simple provision of safe water dead.
Investigations carried out by Daily Champion to these 10 communities showed that complaints range from shoddy jobs, use of inferior materials and abandon of work to mention but a few were the other of the day. The communities have no source of good potable water supply; where there is water already existing, it is contaminated and not safe and maybe the existing one by private individuals not to the reach of the commuters hence the WSSSRP noted them for a functional borehole.
Most of the communities depended most on the stream and rain water with little or no presence of modernised water and sanitation facilities. The water sources are enormously contaminated due to pollutions from bad hygiene practices like open defecation. Only about 5 per cent in the communities have access to quality water supply and about 30 per cent have access to toilet facilities. Lack of clean environment is common. In some areas rain scavenging or water tanker vendors is the only means of having water.
Speaking with Daily Champion, some of the Chairmen of the Water Consumer Associations in the communities and WASH members as well as other stakeholders appealed on the EU/WSSSRP to be more pro-active in issues concerning water as it is counterproductive to be still talking about a borehole for started 2 years ago.
Chairman of Water Consumer Association, Ojoto-Unoh Small Town water supply, Engr. Umeghalu I.C. Edwin Said,” many who suppose to enjoy the water have died, yet we are still talking about borehole”, lamenting that the contractor is not known nor contract details, yet the project is situated in their domain.
Ikenga Community WCA Chairman, Mr Louis Umeh informed that for water to flow in Ikenga and environs that the Geophysical survey says a depth of 1,700 or more should be dug but contractors come and do shallow and shoddy things and go despite the huge amount money committed to the projects because the communities are not having the contract documents and cannot speak authoritatively on such projects. He wondered why after wasting the money collected their contractor is now talking of connecting them to Obizi water scheme whenever it is finished.
Other speakers admitted that although non financial release may constitute a problem but that it not enough for contractors to unleash shoddy jobs and abandon contracts as well provide contaminated water for the commuters without the supervisory organization raising an eyelid. The speakers believed that the lack of will to do the right thing since borehole business is not an all comers job because of health and life of people involved are condemnable.
They also pointed out that some of the contractors were complaining that they were not paid.
Responding to the allegations, the Procurement Officer of WSSSRP, Anambra state, Mr Linus James frantically tried to exonerate the EU/WSSSRP from the blames as he shifted it to the Federal Government for non release of their own counterpart fund matching as the MOU stipulated. He said the Federal Government has not released a dime for the projects which is a cog in the wheel of successful completion of the projects.
Mr James however admitted most of the allegations, but said there is nothing one could do when there is no money to execute the projects since 2007 they started. He reminded that when they started the project in 2007 with programme estimate as well as that of 2009, at the end of the startup there were no hard ware component put in place to kick start things despite the studies done hence the unnecessary delay in completing the projects as contractors can’t work with their monies.
He emphasized that lack of financial release to contractors delay jobs but assured that they are not relenting on their oars to do the best for the people of the state.
Source: Dogwu Emeka Odogwu, Daily Champion / allAfrica.com, 22 Jun 2010