Kano: Constituents suffer illness, death after boreholes contracts were awarded to ghost companies (2)

In the first part of this two–part report, Lukman Abdulmalik, reported how political leaders in Kano state cornered water contracts in communities but failed to complete any projects. This part captures the impunity, where contracts were awarded to non-existent companies, and monies were shared for projects that were never delivered.
Read the first part here.


Kunchi Tales

On June 28, 2023,  it was  Eid day, which all Muslims were expected to commemorate with joy and fanfare. But the case was different in Kunchi Local Government Area of Kano state; while some were celebrating, others had been at the stream since 4 a.m. searching for water that would be used to perform ablution, cook, and do some other chores.
The search for water had caused many residents to miss the Eid prayers because they had to trek for about hours to fetch unhygienic water from the ponds or streams for their domestic and other uses.
In Kunchi LGA, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) project captured the provision of hand pump boreholes in Faskarawa, Gishare, Makera, Gishare, and Kunyawa.
RUWASA Constituency Project Information Source: https://kanoppb.org.ng/constituency-projects/
RUWASA Constituency Project Information Source: https://kanoppb.org.ng/constituency-projects/
During a visit to the Kunyawa community by the reporter, he met Kabiru Adamu, a 32-year-old resident of Kunyawa who survived an infection known as Escherichia Coli (E. coli), a bacterium that normally lives in the intestines of people.
Some kinds of E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhoea, while others cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, and others. One strain can lead to kidney failure if not treated. 
Eating contaminated food is believed to be the most common cause of the disease.
Adamu, who suffered from E. coli, contracted a urinary tract infection due to drinking unsafe water from a dam in his community. 
He recounted that “In 2019, RUWASA came to our community for the project of providing one hand pump borehole. They conducted their water survey, and after the first attempt, they said the meter that they could dig or tap to find the water source was far from the land surface.
Kabiru Adamu narrting his experience encountered with infection
Kabiru Adamu narrting his experience encountered with infection
“We moved to another location for the survey, which the surveyors promised to return;  we followed up on the project, but the surveyors told us that they hadn’t been paid to execute it.”
Adamu narrated that “Lack of execution of the hand pump borehole has put us in privation, as we only have a dirty dam, which we rely upon to get our water.
“The dam is about one hour and 30 minutes away from our home town; some use their donkeys or motorcycles, while others trek or push carts.”
Ibrahim Auwal riding a Donkey with jerrycans. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Ibrahim Auwal riding a Donkey with jerrycans. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
He lamented his suffering from the UTI disease and said that it took him two months to treat himself.
“In 2021, I visited over five hospitals to get rid of the infection, but the symptoms kept getting worse until I was referred  to Abubakar Imam Urology Hospital in Kano metropolis. After a series of tests, it was confirmed by the doctor that my sickness was the result of consuming unhygienic water.”
Adamu said that he had spent N35,200 to treat his infection.
Alhaji Munhammad Tukur, the 67-year-old village head of Kunyawa, lamented that the non-availability of potable water in his village led him to contribute and dig a well in the year 2000, which is serving over 2,000 people in the community. But for over six months now, the well has run dry.
Alhaji Munhammad Tukur lamenting on the non-execution of water project. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Alhaji Munhammad Tukur lamenting on the non-execution of water project. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
The residents of this community are facing tribulation  due to the non-execution of the construction of a borehole despite the disbursement of N1.4 million by the  RUWASA of Kano State in 2019 constituency projects to Adzpire Engineering Serv. Nig. Ltd. 
As in Kunyawa, in the Gishare community, in Kunchi LGA, the same contractor has failed to execute the project for the provision of one hand pump borehole after being awarded a N1.4 million contract.
The lack of access to clean, potable water forces residents of the Gishare community to consume dirty and unhygienic water, leading to the outbreak of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, and dysentery 
During a visit to the community by this reporter, he saw Usman Aliyu in an unhealthful condition as his relatives carried him up and down at Gishare Hospital, seeking health attention.
The reporter tried to speak with Aliyu, but he was too sick to speak.
Usman Aliyu, suffering from Typhiod as result of drinking unclean water. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Usman Aliyu, suffering from Typhiod as result of drinking unclean water. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Rabiu Aliyu, his 47-year-old elder brother, revealed that his younger brother had been suffering from acute typhoid for over one year.
Aliyu explained that “our lives are in danger; almost every year we usually lose five to six children or adults because of waterborne diseases. 
“Lack of water has caused us untold hardship. The government is yet to provide us with pipe-borne water despite our repeated calls for help in this regard,” he said.
Rabiu stated that he used to wake up as early as 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. and sometimes trek approximately 20 kilometers to the dirty pond in the community to fetch water, adding that without access to clean water, he and his family must rely on dirty pond water for drinking and other domestic uses.
“We drink from the same pond with our animals; sometimes they will be inside the pond while we are also fetching the water,” Aliyu narrated.
According to UNICEF, the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted by the government of Nigeria,  disclosed that at least 69 million Nigerians do not have access to safe drinking water, and this remains a challenge for the majority of Nigerians, especially those living in rural areas.
The survey indicates that about 40 per cent of households, or about 69 million people, do not have access to clean water sources, adding that in rural areas, 19 million people walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams, and rivers.
UNICEF revealed that children without access to safe water are more likely to die in infancy and throughout childhood from waterborne diseases. 
SDG 6, titled Clean Water and Sanitation, stated that about 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, while 4.2 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation services. This crisis disproportionately affects women and girls, who are often responsible for collecting water and are vulnerable to violence and health risks associated with poor sanitation.
Lack of clean water and sanitation leads to numerous health issues, such as diarrheal diseases, which claim the lives of approximately 297,000 children under five every year.
Furthermore, inadequate water and sanitation have significant economic implications, including decreased productivity, increased healthcare costs, and negative impacts on education and gender equality.

Other communities’ vile tales in Kunchi LGA

Faskarawa and Makera are other hinterland communities in Kunchi LGA and are among the beneficiaries of the RUWASA 2019 constituency projects. These communities have a population of over 3,000 people who have zero access to potable water.
The lack of water in these communities has not only affected their health but also caused a massive dropout rate of children from school, as both parents and children are forced to walk long distances in search of water.
Amina Haruna, an eight-year-old girl and a student at Faskarawa Primary School in Kunchi, was seen pushing a water cart with six jerrycans of water when this reporter met her. 
Amira narrated that she had fetched the water from a running stream, almost 20 kilometers away from her home Every morning, the eight-year-old girl is expected to join other children from the community to fetch water from the stream before heading to school.
Amina Haruna, an eight-year-old girl, returning from stream. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Amina Haruna, an eight-year-old girl, returning from stream. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Unfortunately, Amira’s education has stopped for over three years, as she only fetches water from morning to evening.
The small girl, who appeared exhausted after pushing the cart for about two hours, revealed that she had now missed classes because she had to walk the long distance to get water for domestic chores, and by the time she returned, it was already closing time.
On a visit to Faskarawa Primary School on Friday, June 19, the school’s student population was below the average of the pupils enrolled in the school. The school has a total of 600 enrolled pupils, but hardly 150 could be counted as most of the pupils are down the stream with their parents to fetch water.
This reporter discovered that pupils have been irregular in attending classes, with a high increase in dropouts.
Khalid Sanusi, a parent, lamented the situation that “most of the children in this community are no longer coming to school. That’s why you can see some classes are empty. Because our children are assisting us in finding water. It’s very disheartening. This moment, we see our pupils in the school, and the next moment, they are no longer attending classes, all because of water.”
However, despite releasing the sum of N2 million to Adzpire Engineering Serv. Nig. Ltd. to construct hand pump boreholes in 2019, residents of Faskarawa and Makera have yet to see their project come to life.
Despite the country’s law granting free and compulsory primary education, about 10.5 million children aged 5–14, like those in Faskarawa and Makera, are school dropouts. 
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its 2020 report on women and men, shows that a quarter of Nigeria’s 40.8 million school-age children were not attending primary education. The 10 states at the top of the chart had about 5.2 million of the country’s 10.2 million out-of-school children. Kano State had the most with 989,234. 

Ghost contractor of Kunchi project

In total, the Kano State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency paid the sum of N5.6m to   Adzpire Engineering Serv. Nig. Ltd. to construct one hand pump borehole each in five communities in Kunchi LGA.
However, a full CAC search on the company’s status showed that it is not a legally registered entity, as the commission had no record of it. Under Nigerian law, companies have to be registered with the CAC in order to be awarded contracts.
The award of the contract by RUWASA also violated Kano State Public Procurement Law (KSPPL) under Section 31 (2b), which states that “All bidders shall fulfill all their obligations to pay taxes, pensions, and social security contributions.” 
Also, the agency contravenes Section 31 (4d), which stipulates that “the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pensions, or social insurance contributions, unless such bidder has obtained a lawful permit with respect to the allowance or difference of such outstanding payments in installments.”

Tales from Ungogo LGA

As part of the  2019 RUWASA constituency project, the sum of N7 million was awarded to Yakfaba Global Resources Nig. Ltd. to construct hand pump boreholes in Agalawa, Panisau Kofar Kudu, Panisau Kanwa, and Kofar Buzaye of Ungogo LGA, Kano State. The company was found to be unregistered as it had no records at the CAC. 
RUWASA Constituency Project Information Source: https://kanoppb.org.ng/constituency-projects/
RUWASA Constituency Project Information Source: https://kanoppb.org.ng/constituency-projects/
However, a visit by this reporter to the communities revealed that the hand pump boreholes were not constructed. This is true about the Panisau Kanwa community, for example, where no borehole was found.
Mahmuda Abdullahi, a 63-year-old civil servant, complained that the lack of boreholes is causing the people hardship.
He lamented that “the lack of easy access to water has made me miss my work sometimes, as I have to fetch nothing less than 10 jerrycans that will be enough for two days in my house.
Mahmuda Abdullahi, a 63-year-old civil servant complaining lack of borehole provision. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Mahmuda Abdullahi, a 63-year-old civil servant complaining lack of borehole provision. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
“The distance we have to travel to get water is unbearable; we have to walk for at least 15 minutes before we can get water that is not even sanitary.”
Also, in Agalawa, a sum of N2.8 million was awarded for the construction of two hand pump boreholes, which were equally not executed.
Alarama Kamilu Agalawa, a laundry cleaner resident in the community, lamented spending a lot of money to buy water from cart pushers.
He stressed that “we don’t have any working boreholes in our community; the last borehole constructed was in 2014, which is also not providing water.
“I usually spend N1,000 to N1,200 to buy water for my business to keep running smoothly, so making profit is hard most times.
“But currently we are on the verge of contributing money to construct a borehole for our community.”
Just like Kamilu in the Agalawa community suffered business losses, Sulaiman Ilyasu, a trader in Panisau Kofar Kudu, suffered the same fate. Ilyasu said desperate residents were forced to dig a well from which they had to fetch water round the clock.
Iliyasu recounted that “because the well water is not sufficient to feed the whole community,  I have to be using about 15 sachets of pure water for drinking, ablution, and others every day.
Sulaiman Ilyasu, a trader in Panisau Kofar Kudu. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
Sulaiman Ilyasu, a trader in Panisau Kofar Kudu. PC: Lukman Abdulmalik
“So, every day I have to lose N150, making it N4,500 in every blessed month.” 
He, however, said their wells are often treated with chlorine, alum, corrosion inhibition, antifoaming, and alkalinity control by the Kano State Ministry of Environment and Sanitation.
Also, Iliyasu linked the scarcity of water in the area to increased health challenges and low economic output. 

RUWASA reacts on award of contracts to unregistered companies

Yusif Abdullahi, Director of Physical Planning at RUWASA, disclosed that the award of contracts to non-existent companies is determined by the Kano State Constituency Project Office. 
“We don’t examine contractors, we only award contracts to whoever the constituency office approves,” he asserted shockingly. 
“However, the lawmakers are the ones undermining the process, and our agency has no chance to reject their decision,” he said.
Horrific Coliform Test Results
On July 11, 2023, this reporter submitted some stream water consumed by residents of Kunchi, Ungogo, Tsanyawa, and Kabo LGAs to a laboratory test conducted by MAMS Consultancy Services, Kano. 
After three days, the results of the test showed that the water consumed by the communities was unsafe and contaminated with harmful microorganisms.
Microbiological Analysis of the Coliform test
Microbiological Analysis of the Coliform test
According to the test result, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the most dangerous bacteria known to cause inward fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain, was present in high proportion.
The water also contains a high concentration of a group of microorganisms, indicating, among other things, fecal contamination and the presence of harmful, disease-causing organisms. These organisms are known as coliforms.
A 2019 report by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the United Nations Children and Education Fund, UNICEF, showed that one-third of Nigeria’s population drinks contaminated water, while 130,000 Nigerian children die annually as a result of water-related infections.
Coliform bacteria include Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigellosis, Amoebiasis, Hepatitis A, Campylobacteriosis, Scabies, and Worm infections. 
When these species are present in high proportion in any drinking water, they often cause life-threatening diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, and hepatitis, amongst others, as explained by Abdu Nasir, the examiner.
This report is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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