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Rivers without water

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Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State had on  August 18, 2008 assured the people of the State that the water programme of his administration would not fail. “Unlike before” were the exact words he used to underline how ‘serious’ the promise was.

Speaking at the “Consultative Forum on Potable Water Supply”, held at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Port Harcourt, Amaechi oiled his words by lecturing that he noticed that past water programmes did not succeed in the state due to the quest to get instantaneous solution. He explained that he would not set his compass on a quick solution, adding that his administration was taking its time to tackle the situation.

He further said that his administration would soon come up with an effective and  enduring solution to the water problem in the state.

He, however, pleaded for  patience and understanding from  Rivers masses, adding that his government would continue to be transparent by “accounting for every kobo spent”. He said: “Government’s fund is not for personal use, but for purposes of overall development of the state”.   (Nobody should remember the  multi-million aircraft here, which the Governor wants to get “right”).

While people lived on the plea for patience, it is baffling that this administration is still slow in the provision of rural electrification, rural roads, and qualitative education that were contained in the promise index, according to the government, “with the seriousness they deserve”, three years and after.

The government is now giving excuses for  failing to meet its  promises on what it termed “capital intensive nature of government projects”. The government had promised the people of implementing its many projects in phases. But sadly neither  rural nor urban water supply has been accomplished.

Does the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources need commendation for always organising programmes without providing potable water for the people? Dr. Doris Fisher, the Commissioner for Water Resources in 2008, warned that water is the most pressing need of every human being. She identified “lack of attention, poor funding and improper coordination as some of the problems militating against efforts to provide adequate and qualitative water in the state”.

It is ironical that Rivers State which is endowed with a rich and vast diversity of natural resources, including water, cannot provide adequate potable water for  the people. Very sad!

This lack of safe drinking water is responsible for Rivers being listed among the states still struggling to find their bearing, thus mocking the Governor’s promise that the state capital would soon be competing with Lagos and Abuja in terms of development.

However, the disintegrated water management in the state is “vital” for poverty reduction among the people who are suffering from environmental disharmony and economic underdevelopment. What the state needs is a genuine water policy that will go a long way in developing and managing water resources in an integrated manner. So, why is Rivers State Water Policy disintegrated?

An opposition political party in the State recently condemned the government for its failure to take its promises serious, especially on the provision of water in the state in the last four years of  Chibuike Amaechi in government.

This brings to question  the state Water Resources Commissioner, Dr. Patricia Simon-Hart’s request for N250 billion for the rehabilitation of the water scheme in the Port Harcourt metropolis. Were there no already existing water structures by the past governments in the state?  Were there no time people enjoyed pipe- borne water in Port Harcourt?  Why the N250 billion?

No one should blame anybody or group forv raising eyebrows over Dr. Simon-Hart’s proposal and request.  No one should blame the party for saying that the amount demanded by Dr. Simon-Hart for the provision of potable water in the Port Harcourt metropolis shows her lack of awareness of the sensitive ministry she is heading.

The government is hereby  called to give account of all the money allegedly  expended by the state Water Resources Ministry  in the past three to four years. This will help to allay public suspicion triggered off by the opposition party which claimed that government has question to answer  “… especially given the fact that most residents of the city have provided their own water within the period under consideration and may have even forgotten that water pipes lie underground in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor communities of the state”.

Mr  Odimegwu Onwumere Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State, wrote from Port Harcourt

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