Saturday, April 17, 2021

Africa: Water scarcity bites harder in Plateau as vandals destroy facilities

IT was the late afro maestro, Fela, who had a hit song Water no get enemy, apparently highlighting the fact that water was an indispensable commodity, which everyone should embrace.

The musician stressed that water was virtually used by all and for myriad reasons. But today, water seems to have become an enemy to some nefarious elements in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, Or how does one explain the reckless destruction of water facilities meant to ensure the smooth production and distribution of the essential commodity to the people?

The inexplicable destruction of water facilities by vandals for reasons yet to be made public has persisted despite several attempts to put them at bay. This, coupled with the hilly nature of most communities in Plateau State, has subjected residents of such communities to acute water shortage, forcing some communities, especially in the Southern zone of the state, to share their water sources with animals which, incidentally, are also in dire need of the scarce commodity.

These communities have devised many means to mitigate their sufferings, but their efforts are futile as their improvised water sources such as hand pump and solar-powered boreholes and wells often dry up during the dry season, prompting the residents, especially women and children, to walk many kilometres in search of water for household use.

To curb the problem of acute water shortage, the immediate past administration of former governor Jonah Jang had committed a whooping N8bn to address the problem but the effort did not yield the desired result.

Even in Jos and Bukuru metropolis, residents who rely mostly on tap as a source of water, rarely get the commodity due to diverse reasons, chief among which is vandalism of water board equipment and diversion of water from the pipes to private farms for irrigation.

The State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, has been having a running battle with vandals who wreak havoc on water board property.

The Acting General Manager of the State Water Board, Stella Buje and the State Governor, Simon Lalong, have voiced serious concerns over the unpatriotic acts of destroying water facilities in the state but condemnations have not deterred the vandals from their attacks.

The Public Relations Officer of the State Water Board, Nangur Ndam, told Arewa Voice: “We are still battling with the issue of vandalism, especially with this dry season farming as the hoodlums continue to break our pipes and divert water to their farms.

“Last week, we discovered one at Liberty Dam Road, off Bauchi Ring Road, where water was diverted to a very large rice farm barely two weeks after another one was discovered behind NASCO, by Old Airport Junction. Officials of NSCDC arrested some suspects but some powerful people came begging that they should be freed since they were first-time offenders. That is unacceptable. They signed some documents and any further breach would lead to prosecution.”

Ndam noted that some car wash operators were also caught in the illicit act of sabotage.

Given the seriousness of the sabotage, Governor Simon Lalong, visited one of the vandalised water projects along Rayfield-Bukuru Road and sternly warned that henceforth, any vandal caught tampering with water facilities in the state would be seriously dealt with as a criminal.

The governor expressed anger over the waste of water by persons who cut corners to illegally tap from public water supply lines, saying such action was “not only selfish and criminal, but capable of denying many citizens of potable water”.

The governor directed the Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, Ibrahim Bello and the Acting General Manager of Water Board, Stella Buje to “immediately investigate those behind the pipe breach and ensure that they bear the cost of the repairs in addition to facing prosecution.”

He, however, appealed to all citizens to support government by looking after the facilities within their domains and to also report any act of vandalism to security and other relevant government agencies. Vanguardngr

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