Bayelsa: Concerns over water scarcity despite N6bn reticulation provision

Water supply in Bayelsa state is synonymous with the proverbial man in a river yet thirsty. So much have been expended in getting water for the state but no result as JOY EMMANUEL reports.

The problem of potable water in Bayelsa state is no longer news; in fact, since the creation of the state in 1996, Yenagoa, the capital city has not had safe drinking water as it is like a scarce commodity.

Although the city is surrounded by water, its residents suffer in getting this invaluable commodity for their daily existence.

Blueprint can report authoritatively that only privileged few individuals who can afford to sink boreholes in their respective compounds are the ones that enjoy water. Other residents are at the mercy of water vendors from the northern part of the country who sell the commodity but at expensive prices.

The state government has said the delivery of potable water will no longer be free so as to enable the continuous reticulation of drinkable water to the doorsteps of Bayelsans.

The commissioner for water resources, Nengi Tuborah, said in a forum in Yenagoa that, “This was in line with the declaration by the United Nations Children Fund and the European Union that water provision should no longer be free.”

Investigation shows that the water vendors collect between N20 and N30 per twenty litres jerry can while those who live in storey buildings pay up to N50 per jerry can. On a daily basis, some homes spend between N200 to 500 to meet their water requirements depending on the areas and number of persons. 

Meanwhile, investigation shows that over about 6 billion naira was budgeted for water reticulation in the last few years

Water vendors smile to the banks everyday while residents, especially the indigents, groan as they struggle to get water proportionate for their daily use.

Blueprint investigation further reveals that there are families in the capital city that go to bed at times without a bath due to scarcity of water.

Further investigation shows that water scarcity is not only peculiar to individual families, the state secretariat and several other government agencies are not left out including the Ministry of Water Resources. At the state secretariat, for instance, the vendors have to climb with jerry cans of water to the fourth floor of the building to empty their cans into another container for use in toilets.

Because of this, the vendors often take advantage of the situation to go for untreated water and sell to consumers. 

This is largely responsible for the various water-borne diseases that have led to the mortality of many infants and adults as well. It is a common sight that in many homes and offices, the toilets stink. Just recently, the state government announced an outbreak of cholera in Yenagoa and its surroundings, warning residents to stop drinking from waters whose sources they don’t know. Moreover, a general observation proves that most of the water vendors are unhygienic in the way they supply water to their clients. For instance, it is the same containers they use in supplying water to the toilets that are also used in supplying to the kitchens.

Nevertheless, some security conscious individuals are not comfortable with the vendors’ unfettered access to every parts of people’s private homes on the pretext of water supply. The vendors, according to reports are very aggressive and temperamental such that they can cause havoc at the slightest provocation.

In all of these, the state government is yet to rise up to its responsibilities of providing social amenities, including water, to the citizenries in order to avoid all of these unpleasantness as water is very essential to human existence. The saying that water is life should not be taken for granted under any guise. Health experts have therefore postulated that over 60 percent of infant mortalities are caused by the intake of unsafe water.

While the restoration government of Seriake Dickson has done little or nothing about water reticulation in the state capital, the state Ministry of Water Resources has continued to blame the stalled water reticulation project on ongoing road construction works in the state capital.

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