How multi-billion naira water facilities are laid waste in Ekiti — 18mins read
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MULTI-BILLION naira water facilities are falling apart at Itapaji community, Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
The decaying dam was commissioned in 1975 and has served the old Ondo State, then comprising Ekiti State.
The ICIR reporter, who recently visited four major dams in the state, observed that equipment at Itapaji dam has deteriorated.
The dam has capacity to supply water to 24 towns and villages, according to a 2019 report on the investigation carried out by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA.
It also has mini-hydro electric power potential, and water supply capacity for irrigation and domestic use.
The ICIR reporter observed that buildings and the only operational vehicle remaining at the site are in bad shape.
Many wooden doors within the buildings are eaten up by termites, and its rooftops blown off by wind. There are no signs any activity has taken place at the facility for decades as the area was overgrown with bushes, and the machines and metal pipes are covered with dust and cobwebs.
Among the ‘dead’ equipment are water treatment machines, power generating sets, power transformers, cables of various sizes, laboratory equipment, high and low lift machines, and dosing machines.
A few staff still working at the facility confirmed that the facility has not functioned for years.
Majority of working at the dam have been disengaged, and others deployed to the State Water Corporation.
The remaining workers live in two of the dilapidated quarters near the dam.
The ICIR gathered that Itapaji Dam stopped working following the collapse of its electricity and power generating sets.
“We stopped working around 2009, just because there was no power supply. That was what brought us to where we are today,” one of the workers, who pleaded not to be named, so he would not be punished by the government, told The ICIR.
Except Itapaji, three other dams are rehabilitated through intervention of the World Bank and the European Union.
The three are Ero, Egbe and Ureje. Egbe dam is at Egbe, Gboyin Local Government; Ero dam is at Ikun, Moba Local Government; while Ureje Dam is at Ado Ekiti Local Government.
The dams are part of assets inherited by the state when it was created out of the old Ondo state in 1996 by Abacha regime.
How Fayemi government secured World Bank’s $55 million, EU $5 grant to rehabilitate dams
The state governor Kayode Fayemi approached World Bank in 2014 to secure credit of $55 million from the World Bank. The state was to provide a counterpart fund of 10 per cent.
Fayemi also sought $5 million aid from the European Union, estimated at N18 billion at the exchange rate of N305 to a dollar when the project fully began in 2018.
Fayemi could not continued the project in 2014 after losing to Fayose who only carried out soft components of the projects comprising staff training and other logistics.
After his relection in 2018, Fayemi continued the project, which comprises four dams, new headquarters building for the State Water Corporation and small water schemes.
In March 2021, the government said it has fully rehabilitated Ero dam, while partly repaired Egbe and Ureje dams.
Meanwhile, the state government has said residents would pay a minimum of N2000 monthly to benefit from the water supply.
Consequently, the government has issued forms to interested households to indicate interest to receive water meters in their homes.
The interest form sells for N5, 000 said the state Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Bamidele Faparusi.
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What we did with funds – Govt
Faparusi told The ICIR that the government used the EU to rehabilitate Egbe Dam and other small water schemes in the state, while Ero and Ureje Dams were revamped with the Bank’s credit, complemented by the state’s counterpart fund.
He said the government repaired Ero Dam to its original capacity with the Bank’s credit. All the water pumps at the Dam, including water treatment facilities such as low lift and high lift pumps, were replaced.
“It’s a complete turnaround for that Dam. As we speak today, the Dam is back to its original capacity, and it’s pumping. We are already test-running it. We also refurbished the Ayetoro booster station that boosts water from that Ero Dam to Ado Ekiti. Then, the transmission line between Ifaki, which is about 10 kilometres transmission line, from Ifaki to Ekiti, was reconstructed. During the dualisation of that road, the original pipeline there was destroyed. We had to rebuild a new pipeline from Ifaki to Ado-Ekiti.
“We constructed a low-level reservoir from Fajuyi (Ado) to contain the water coming from Ero. That was the reservoir – 2000 cubic metres that we constructed at Fajuyi. We have tested it; it’s working. We also felt that the Ureje Dam that is supposed to service Ado mainly also had to be rehabilitated.
“We also rehabilitated Ureje Dam and brought it back to its original capacity. It was operating at less than 30 per cent before. But, now, all the low lift and high lift pumps have been changed so that the pumps can work at full capacity,” he explained.
Faparusi said the government would take away the State Water Corporation from the government to enable it to generate funds so that the state could pay back the Bank’s credit. He also said the government would dissolve the agency’s leadership.
“Part of the strategies is to reform the water corporation to run effectively, not as a bureaucratic institution, but as a commercial entity. Part of the reform is to move the Water Corporation out of government control and make it work independently and in a manner that will be profitable. In a way, they will be able to pay back the money; because they now have brand new facilities and the government will support them.
“We are about to appoint a new managing director and its management team. We are about to register Ekiti Water and Sewerage Company Limited, an Ekiti state-owned company that will take ownership of that asset and the business to run sustainably. It can be able to provide water to the people at a cost that will be sustainable and affordable to the people of Ekiti State,” the commissioner stated.
But a top official at the Water Corporation, who pleaded anonymity because of the “sensitive nature of politics in the state”, said the commissioner’s position on the agency’s commercialisation conflicted with the agreement reached with the World Bank.
The agency would remain an institution of government, but the government would reform it, said the official.
The official argued that rather than being withdrawn from government control, the Bank’s agreement with the state government was “corporatisation” of the agency, meaning the status quo would remain.
According to the official, Ero Dam is to service 60 per cent of communities in the state, that is, nine local government areas. The official also said the state government would repay the credit within 20 years, after a five-year moratorium.
The ICIR reports that the World Bank credit came through the Third Urban Water Supply Reform Programme (NUWSRP-3). The EU provided its grant under the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme Phase III.
Government blocks access to contract details
The government rebuffed efforts by The ICIR to get details of contracts awarded with the funds. While the State Water Corporation said the documents were too voluminous to release, Faparusi said making it available was unnecessary.
“I don’t know if that will be necessary because our people can be very gullible,” he told our reporter.
The government also allegedly directed one of the contractors that handled the projects not to disclose details of the money it got to The ICIR.
Managing Director of Forstech Nigeria Limited Adewale Oduwole said he got a directive from the government not to provide details of the contract awarded to his company to build a new headquarters for the state Water Corporation.
Refusal of the state government and the firm to provide the information as requested violates Sections 1, 2 and 9 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Section 1, paragraph 1 of the Act states: “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.”
Section 2, paragraph 2 of the Act stipulates that a public institution shall ensure proper organisation and maintenance of all information in its custody in a manner that facilitates public access to such information.
Section 2, paragraph 7 explains how the firm is answerable to this Act: “(7) Public institutions are all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies, ministries, and extra-ministerial departments of the government, together with all corporations established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest and private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public functions.”
Section 9 paragraph 2 of the Act also requires that public servants should make information at their disposals available to the public.
“Every government or public institution shall ensure the proper organization and maintenance of all information or record in its custody, in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or record under this Act.”
Meanwhile, IDMON Engineering and Construction Company, which handled one of the dams (Ero Dam) told The ICIR his company got over N2 billion. Its Project Manager Adesemoye Lanre said the project started about two years back and ended in November 2020.
Oduwole and Lanre confirmed to our reporter that the state government had paid their companies.
Despite dams’ repair, potable water persists in Ekiti
Because of inadequate potable water in most communities in Ekiti state, residents still rely on rainwater, wells, rivers and other unsafe sources. Only a few residents in the largely rural state own boreholes.
The situation remains the same, two months after the works on the dams ended.
One of the residents was Becky Michael, a food vendor who uses polluted water to prepare meals she sells at the heart of Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
Oke-Isa area of the town where she runs her business has faced acute water scarcity for years.
Michael said she’s always concerned using such water to prepare food for her customers, but she must continue to do if she must continue her business to feed her family.
She buys the water from a water vendor who fetches it from a contaminated source.
Michael’s shop is around the old Governor’s Office in the state capital.
“We don’t have clean water; the water we use is not clean enough. If you’re using dirty water, it means you’re inviting sickness to yourself. We use dirty water for bathing. We use dirty water for cooking food, which is not good. I want the government of Ekiti state to look at it very well. We need clean water in this state,” she told The ICIR.
Other findings by The ICIR during visits to the state dams
There new buildings and equipment at the Dam, but surrounded by thick bushes. A multi-million naira unroofed building around the Dam also lies in the bush. According to the CAPPA report, Ureje Dam can produce 20,000 gallons of water daily.
The (old) headquarters of the state Water Corporation, located few metres from the Dam, was renovated with the World Bank credit. The government said renovation of the old office of the Water Corporation and building of its new headquarters were part of the agreement with the Bank’s credit.
Judging from what was seen by our reporter, this Dam enjoyed more of the Bank’s credit than other water schemes in the state.
The investigation finds that the government replaced all major equipment at the Dam, including low lift, high lift pumps, electrician appliances, pumps and other gadgets.
Some of the new equipment at the Dam are two 1000 KVA power generating sets and three sets of 50KVA power generator.
Ero Dam was commissioned in 1985 and could produce 104,500 cubic litres of water daily.
The government repaired Egbe Dam with the EU grant. Though it did not provide much information on the project, our reporter observed that the government did much work at the Dam, including the procurement of new low lift and high lift pumps, pipes, power generating sets, and buildings for different departments.
Expert criticizes borrowing for water projects
Director of Programme, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa Philip Jakpor is very familiar with dams and water in the state.
He queried the rationale behind the government borrowing for projects he believes the state government can fund.
Jakpor’s organisation visited the dams after the state signed agreements with the EU and World Bank on water projects in the state.
He observed no project funded by a loan from the World Bank by any state in Nigeria that had not failed.
He said almost all states in the country owed the Bank and wondered why it would keep lending its money to execute projects that would not be sustainable.
He identified irregular power supply, poor maintenance culture as significant factors that made the Ero Dam collapse.
Jakpor blamed the state government for the collapse of dams in the state as, according to him, it refused to fund Waterworks in the state, so it could end up privatising them.
He queried further: “Why would we conclude that the state government cannot put those things together? It must be a deliberate thing.”
Jakpor added: “If the state government can go to the World Bank or EU to collect this type of money, why not just get the money from the banks here and repair the Water Work? Every year, are there no budgets for water in Ekiti state? Where do those monies go into?”
Why government takes water from Ero, Egbe to Ado-Ekiti
Ureje Dam is not enough to service Ado Ekiti; the government has to bring water from Ero and Egbe to the state capital, Faparusi said.
He argued that Ado Ekiti is one of the fastest-growing cities in Nigeria. The southern part of the town gets support from Egbe Dam, while the government brings in water from Ero to service the northern part of the state capital.
“Ureje Dam can only service the nucleus (centre) of Ado. The water body there is not enough. It is operating in full capacity. But, because of the expansion that we wanted to do, there is no way the Dam can service those expansions. That is why wehad to bring in water from other dams,” the commissioner said.
Ikun community, the host community to Ero Dam, is about 70 kilometres from Ado Ekiti.
Residents react to acute shortage of potable water in the state
Kehinde Omotayo owns a shop at Oke Isa Market, Ado Ekiti. She does not have access to either borehole or public water, both at home and at her shop.
Like other people in the market, she gets water from a hotel, school and church located around the market. There are boreholes in those institutions from which people of the area get water.
When it rains, Omotayo scoops water and keeps it in her house. There is also a well in her compound from which she fetches water.
She supports the government’s policy that people pay based on how much water they use monthly, “in as much as the water will be available.”
Folake Omonijo is a resident of Isato-Oke in Ado-Ekiti. She told The ICIR that her area of the state capital gets water about three times a week. An influential man named “Apase” always helps people of the neighbourhood with water, she stated.
Whenever water is available, she stores it in her home because her house does not have a well.
Abiodun Yomi, another resident in the Isato-Oke in Ado Ekiti, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said tap water is always available on her street. She doesn’t have a well because there is a constant water supply in her area.
Our reporter found out that people or communities around water dams and government institutions are likely to enjoy the water more than those distant from water projects or government establishments in the state. For instance, the Old Governor’s Office is close to Isato-Oke (Ori Omi) in Ado-Ekiti. People in the neighbourhood enjoy a constant water supply because the area connects to water from the state Waterworks.
Some of the areas in Ado Ekiti where there is no water from the state Waterworks are Iwaro, Maryland, Abe Koko, Falegan, Ijigbo, Ajilosun, Okesa, 132 KVA, Shije, Oke-Ila, Basiri, Itamo, Aba, Moferere, Dalimo, Elemi, Oshodi.
There is public water at Isato, Ile-Abiye, Ekute, Oke-Isa, Fajuyi, Oke-Bola, Oke-Oniyo and Ureje.
William Olateju Alabi is the pastor in charge of Zone, RCCG Ekiti Province 1 headquarters, Miracle Mega, one of the institutions where people around the Oke Isa area in Ado-Ekiti fetch water.
He told The ICIR of the gesture by his church: “By the grace of God, we realized that people are suffering in the community in term of pipe-borne water. Since 2014, we have been giving free water to people around us here as part of our corporate social responsibility scheme of the church. We believe that the people should be able to benefit from the meagre resources available in the church. Freely we receive and freely we give to people.”
He said it was not easy for people in the area to get potable water, so the people get the church’s water freely.
Alfa Morufu Adedapo manages the Ajowa Mosque in Ado Ekiti. He also runs a furniture and carpentry shop adjacent to the mosque.
He said the mosque’s well had remained a water source for many residents in the neighbourhood, and it was the only one that would not dry up in the area, no matter the number of people who come to fetch.
“People come all the time to fetch. They come as early as the time we say our first morning prayers with their basins and bowls to get water. When the water goes down, we lock it for a while so that people can fetch it again. People on the street always pray for us because we make the well available to them. It helps residents around here, especially during the dry season when there is no water.
“We are pleased in the mosque that God gave us this well to be a blessing to our neighbours. Even though it is in the house of God, everyone here will testify that people make good use of it,” he said.
Iworoko is the closest community to Ado Ekiti. Pipes from Ero Dam transport water to Ado Ekiti run through the neighbourhood. But a foremost leader of the town said it was about 30 years ago that people in the community got water from public taps. Iworoko hosts many students from the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
J. F. Bada holds the title of Odofin in the community and ranks second in Alawoko in Council.
He said the water that runs from Ero Dam to Ado Ekiti goes through the town, but the community’s people have not benefitted from it for 30 years.
He appealed to the government to provide an extension to the pipes to enable the community to get enough water.
The chief recollected how the community enjoyed pipe-borne water between the 1960s and 1970s from both Ero and Ureje Dams but claimed that the taps had stopped for a very long time.
According to him, many homes in Iworoko use water from wells, streams and other unsafe sources. He added that the community hosts over 12,000 students from the Ekiti State University, located between the town and Ado-Ekiti.
Kehinde Aluko, a resident of Iworoko, said she moved from house to house to get water in her neighbourhood.
“We only use well in my house. We don’t have access to pipe-borne water. There is no water in our well now. I only go from house to house to get water. I want to use the pipe-borne water from the government; I will be happy to see the water in my house one day, no matter how much it costs, because it will be better,” she said.
In Iworoko, people fetch water from rivers and small dams inside the bush, said Aluko, a fruit-seller.
Freedom Job has lived in Iworoko since 2009. He runs a boutique business in the community. He said it was tough getting water, especially in Iworoko, as people go very far distance before they get water.
His family begs for water in neighbours’ compounds, and they will not get enough that would take them through the day, he said.
Reacting to the monthly payment of a bill for water by households in the state, Job said there was a possibility the water would not be affordable to the poor.
A 100-level student of the University of Ado Ekiti, Abdulrahman Abdulaziz, said there was a water challenge in Iworoko, making people look for water from unsafe sources.
Abdulaziz, who spoke with The ICIR at the Iworoko Central Mosque, said the mosque had both well and borehole, from which nearby residents fetched water.
In Ifaki Ekiti, Queen Victoria Agbaje, wife of the town’s monarch who died recently, addressed our reporter on the state of potable water in the community at the town’s palace.
She said there was not much water in Ifaki, and people would go to streams and wells to get water for use. She said she learnt about the repair of public water facilities in the state a few months back.
She said that public water was not circulating to all the streets in the town, and the community suffers from water scarcity. “It gives us a problem to fetch water. I will just advise our government to look into it, to go round and see whatever they can do to help us,” she added.
According to her, people in Ifaki go to streams before they can get water. People who get water from streams trek between 15 and 20 minutes, she explained.
Ikere Ekiti, the second largest community in Ekiti state bordering Ado-Ekiti, does not enjoy water from the state Waterworks. James Olusola told our reporter in the town that streets like Afao, Okeosun, Nitel, Idi Isin, Niniowo, Ikoyi, Anaye, among others in the community, have not seen water from the state Waterworks for a long time.
Meanwhile, there is water in Otun Ekiti, according to Gbenga Asaolu, who is from the town. The motorcyclist said there was enough water for people in his community. He explained that if people in Otun complained of anything, it would not be water scarcity.
Otun Ekiti is very close to Ero Dam, making it possible for the community to enjoy a good water supply from the government, as claimed by Asaolu.
How to process water from the Dam to households
Victor Oyebola is a senior laboratory technologist at the Ero Dam, where he has worked for six years. He told our reporter how the water is drawn from the Dam to treatment plants and onward transport to homes across the state.
He said bottled water, which private firms mainly produce for sale to the public, passes through the same treatment procedures as the government waterworks.
He, however, said the only difference is that companies can produce bottled water within a small environment and in a smaller volume than what obtains at Waterworks, which usually makes for a larger population.
Waterworks uses low lift machines to lift untreated water from the Dam. When the water leaves the low lift, it comes to the treatment plant. The point where the water arrives at the treatment plant is called an aerator.
The design of the treatment plant makes the use of a device known as a dosing pump possible.
The dosing pump discharges chemicals, i.e. aluminium sulphate (alum), lime (calcium hydroxide) and high-test hypochlorite (HTH), into the water at the aerator.
Oyebola said chlorine gas previously used had been phased out “because it is highly hazardous.” Another chemical that institutions producing water now use is known as HTH.
HTH is a combination of two elements which are bleaching agent and chlorine. It comes in a whitish granular form with a very choking smell. The HTH added at this point is a process called pre-chlorination.
After leaving the aerator, the water comes into the clarifier chamber.
The clarifier chamber is where the alum acts on the water. The alum captures the dirt in the water to form flocs; this is called flocculation or coagulation. The flocs settle at the basement of the clarifier. Some will even get attached to the clarifier wall, and clean water will remain at the top, Oyebola explained.
Though clean water comes out at that level, it is not yet safe for use. The water further goes through another stage known as filtration, where the operators use the filter bed. There are chances that dirt would have escaped with the clear water from the clarifier to the filter bed. So, filter media are used at the filter bed to filter the sand that ran with the water from the clarifier, thereby allowing clean water to percolate, allowing the water to return underground (go down to a conserved area) for further processing.
When the water percolates into the ground, the filter media traps the dirt. Some underground pipes will take the water from percolation to the final destination; that is, the clear well tank or the main reservoir – where the water is stored underground for onward passage to the general public.
Except someone tells you that such a massive underground tank is at any such dams or Waterworks, you can never know because the reservoir is constructed like a vast parking space, having its surface filled with crushed stones; the type that construction firms use to build roads.
Before the final water gets to the clear well tank, another process called post-chlorination occurs to maintain a certain level of chlorine in the water.
Also, there are chances that the underground pipes through which the water passes may get clogged with time. “It’s like a straw you use to draw liquid. With time, it could get blocked, and you will then need to clean the straw to allow water to pass again.
“That is the same thing that we do here. Whenever we want to wash this place, we call that process backwashing. That is, you allow water to percolate again. We do backwashing with the aid of some panels inside the treatment plant,” said Oyebola.
After conversing the water at the main reservoir, the water is now ready for onward passage to communities. At this level, the high lift pumps take the water to the general public.
There are different big and small machines and electrical appliances used during the process of water treatment. It takes billions of naira to set up a public water treatment plant, as seen by The ICIR at Ero Dam.
State of potable water in Nigeria
In its 2020 appraisal of potable water in Nigeria, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said access to clean water and improved sanitation facilities is a daily challenge for many Nigerians.
It noted that the problem is particularly acute in the northern part of the country, where only 30 per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
The organization explained that the challenge contributes to the high prevalence of waterborne diseases, threatens the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and contributes to low school enrollment levels, especially among girls in the country.
The ICIR had on March 23 reported how amidst climate change threat, 80 per cent of people in Nigeria do not have access to handwashing facilities, which are made possible by the availability of potable water.
Of the N13.6 trillion signed into law as 2021 budget by the federal government, only N10.073 billion and N159.74 billion are for recurrent and capital expenditures on water, respectively.
Similarly, the estimated revenues of Ekiti state Water Corporation in its 2019 and 2020 budgets seen by The ICIR was 11 million naira for each of the two years, while it paid estimated salaries of 352 million and 300 million naira respectively to workers of the Water Corporation.
The state has a population of 2.2 million people, according to the 2006 national population census, which was the last census conducted in the country. The World Bank predicts an annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent for the country, which should make the state population be 3.2 million currently.
World Bank, Federal Ministry of Water Resources fail to respond to enquiries
However, the Nigerian office of the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources failed to respond to The ICIR on the projects, despite acknowledging The ICIR’s requests.
A letter was submitted at the Bank’s Asokoro office in Abuja on Friday, April 9 2021. Another letter seeking an interview with the Minister of Water Resources on the projects was submitted to the ministry on Tuesday, April 13.