Wike and the burden of FCT Water Board

This is not the best of time for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Water Board. It is also not the best of time for the residents of Nyanya and Karu suburbs of the Abuja City Center.

The trunkline conveying potable water to residents of Karu and Nyanya, in the outskirts of the Abuja City Center, have burst and without potable water. 

For five weeks running, no potable water has reached the residents as water vendors have taken over these semi urban communities, thereby posing danger of possible water borne diseases. Medical experts are concerned about the source of the water the vendors are distributing to the residents.

With over 15,000 cubic meters per hour, and about 131 million cubic meters per annum, the FCT Water Board can be said to be one of the best potable water providers, not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region.  

As a government utility organisation saddled with the responsibilities of providing safe, adequate and affordable water supply services in the FCT,  the Water Board has not been able to discharge this onerous responsibility for some weeks now to these areas.

Aging infrastructure, delay in rehabilitation of the existing water treatment plants at LUD, causing low efficiency to 47%, lack of on the job specialised training and vandalisation of appurtenances on the trunk mains, as well as multiple water inlets to some high-rise structures are some of the challenges the FCT Water Board is facing.

However, the board was caught napping when a stretch of about four kilometres from around Asokoro down to Kugbo axis got burst and mud water had access into the main trunk conveying the water. 

The fault of the lack of access to these areas are multi-dimensional as the trunkline supplying water to the areas got damaged giving access to mud water to mix with the potable water to the residents.

The acting General Manager of the FCT Water Board, Daniel Salka Audu, urged the residents to bear with the agency as the trunkline is in a tunnel but repair work is ongoing.

However, the underlaid pipes have been underground for more than 30 years. There has been no overhaul and no repairs since the inception of the Water Board. The rusty pipes need replacing and to do this is beyond the board.

Residents of the affected areas are urging the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, not to foot drag as the lives of residents are at stake.

The residents are getting restless and the Minister of the FCT, Barrister Nyesom Wike, needs to act fast before things get out of hand.

The mandate of the agency, which was established in 1989, includes providing safe, adequate and affordable water supply in accordance with the World Health Organisation and Nigerian Drinking Water Quality Standards to residents of the Nigeria’s federal capital. But this has not been the lot of residents of Karu and Nyanya.

In the meantime, funding of the Board is through FCT annual statutory budgetary appropriation. Unfortunately, the repairs of the burst trunkline cannot be handled by the agency, thus the engineering department of FCDA is said to have promised to wade in.

It is instructive to note that the agency has six storage tanks and 13 booster stations for high elevation. The board has 55,000 customers that it services. Among them are many multinational companies such as Julius Berger, Dantata and Sawoe, CGC, Coca-Cola, Transcorp Hilton, 7up, NNPC, Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport, military formations and barracks as well as government institutions, the Presidential Villa inclusive – all fall within the areas of coverage of the board.

The Abuja Water Supply Infrastructural Development Plan was designed to be implemented in phases, which unfortunately was not followed hence the hiccups in smooth flow of water to every nook and cranny of the territory.

With six departments, seven operational units and 16 area offices, the agency struggles to bridge the whooping gap between demand and supply of the all-important product in the fastest growing city in Africa.

Inheriting a mere 40 per cent supply requirements in the capital city, the task before the agency was visibly daunting as competent workable solution to the perennial water flow shortages is being addressed by the acting general manager by ensuring adequate support supplies from Gurara Dam in Kachia local government area of Kaduna state to the Lower Usman Dam, LUD, traditional supply source of the water treatment plant.

The Abuja Water Supply Master Plan first phase is partially completed. The 1, 2, 3, and 4 Water Treatment Plants, WTPs, have been completed but now at 47% operational capacity, six Storage Tanks at periphery of the city (2,3,4 and 5) are completed, while 1 and 6 are under construction. They are located at Katampe, Maitama, Asokoro, Apo, and Lokogoma Districts of Abuja. 

It has Trunk mains for raw water from LUD to WTP and Trunk mains for raw water from Gurara to LUD. Also, there are associated trunk mains for treated water and 13 booster stations for high elevation, satellite towns and University of Abuja located at Maitama, Asokoro, Karu, Kubwa Airport, University of Abuja Permanent Site, Bwari and Gwagwalada.

Something urgent needs to be done by the Wike administration and it has to be fast as the problem is too enormous for the FCT Water Board to handle. All eyes on the workaholic minister.

Adebayi, an Abuja based journalist, writes via [email protected]