THE World Bank, under its concerns for our economy, public health, gender issues, and grabbed headlines again with the news that it was providing additional $120 million credit facility to Nigeria to boost water supply in some of her urban cities.
The scheme is romantically called National Urban Water Sector Reform Project. The project is not new. It was presented to the World Bank board in 2004 and approved for implementation the same year. Where is the reform it entails?
Phase one of the project, which ends in September targeted Kaduna, Ogun and Enugu States. It cost US$120 million. Additional financing of US$60 million was secured, taking the total financial outlay on the project in the first phase to US$200 million.
By granting additional US$120 million for the second phase of the project which closes in 2016, with Cross River and Lagos States as targets, the debt stock on this project would hit US$ 320 million, excluding interests.
If it cost US$320 million to improve water supply in selected urban centres in only five of 36 States when would this project be completed round the country? How much would it cost?
We exited the debt trap in 2005, which gave our national economy some breather on projects that are executed yet they contribute little to the people’s welfare. None of the States where the project was executed has any remarkable improvement in public water supply.
The Debt Management Office has warned the Federal Government that the national debt profile may hit US$ 25 billion by 2015. The water project and more that are underway would grow a new debt burden for Nigeria. It is sad the authorities have low consideration for posterity, not surprising if we ponder how they treat Nigerians.
Huge debts would be burdens on future generations. Nigerians have almost given up hope on ever having piped, potable water in their homes. A house owner digs his own borehole; he is a private water works. The failure of the water corporations to deliver, sustains the “pure water” industry, now responsible for employment of hundreds of thousands of people nationwide.
People have become used to producing their own water that they have forgotten governments once provided water through the public water works.
Cabals all over the country who do not want water works to provide services, as they would harm their businesses go to great lengths to sabotage water installations.
The present water schemes constitute unnecessary drain on the national treasury, especially as they have not improved water supply. How do we spend all that money and there is no water?
A government investigation of the water schemes could answer the question. Water is too important to be taken lightly.