By Ike Uchechukwu
Calabar—RESIDENTS of Calabar South, Akpabuya, Odukpani, Calabar Municipality and Akamkpa Local Government Areas of Cross River State have decried the alleged conversion of the vast expanse of land housing the state water board, the source of water supply to the five council areas into a new residential layout.
The conversion of the area into residential layout, the residents alleged, is posing hazard of monumental dimension to the board’s water treatment plant.
Experts had earlier raised concerns about the raw water which comes from Qua River, stressing that the dumpsite at LEMNA axis was affecting the ground water in the area from which the treatment plant gets its water supply, describing it as a time bomb waiting to explode.
Scramble for land
Findings by NDV showed that a large portion of the land hosting the water treatment facility has been sold to private individuals and some government appointees including prominent monarchs in the metropolis.
A source at Cross River State Water Board Limited, CRSWBL, who spoke on condition of anonymity told NDV that the selling of land around the Water Board surroundings and its conversion to a new residential layout is not only disheartening but a huge threat to the health and well-being of residents.
The source said: “It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Lands sold the place to private individuals at N6 million a plot while they allotted same to their cronies at the detriment of the people’s health.
Structures built on water pipes
“People in Calabar South, Calabar Municipality, Akpabuyo, Odukpani, and Akamkpa are all at risk because the water we treat is circulated to these LGAs and when people now build on top of the raw water pipes, what happens when there is damage?
“As we speak, people have erected storey buildings on our 900mm raw water pipes that carry water directly from the intake with 450 cubic metre/hour (velocity).
“You can imagine what will happen if anything go wrong. Why would a right thinking person sell such a place and allow people to build on it?
“The large expanse of land in that place was not just for the fun of it, it was so because the planners knew that the city will expand as the years go by and they had intention of expanding the plant when the need arises. But as it stands, nothing of such can be done any longer because the land has been converted to a new residential layout.
Exposure to Pollution
“A foreign body can drop in that plant and the whole city will be gone. Activities of non-staff poses a big danger and the proximity of homes to the plant is a big risk. Despite our protest, the government has refused to listen to our advice,” he stated.
Speaking with NDV, Prof. Silas Dada, President of Nigerian Mining and Geo-sciences Society, NMGS, said on no account should any one build close to a water treatment plant because of the sensitive nature of the facility, adding that the place should be cordoned off from any foreign body or human activities.
He said: “It is very ridiculous for any right thinking person to allow people to build close to a water treatment plant. The state government must as a matter of urgency stop any form of work going on in that premises because it poses serious health risk to the people of Cross River State.
“It is not right to allow any foreign body talk more of allowing structures in the place because with time, a lot of things will go wrong.
“It is wrong, it is hazardous to the populace and a time bomb waiting to explode, and the option of stopping people from living close to the treatment plant is better than the peril the people will face in future,” he warned.
We are taking a big risk
A community leader in the area, Chief Alfred Henshaw told NDV that a lot of things have gone wrong with water management in Calabar, as according to him, apart from the epileptic water supply, people have been allowed to buy off the expanse of land meant for expansion of the plant as the metropolis grows.
He said: “It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this precarious situation where people are allowed to buy land in the premises of water board and not only that, they sold up to the water treatment plant.
“Even the diesel reservoir was dug out and the place sold. The staff quarters have also been sold and this is pathetic. It is wrong and unacceptable, we are taking a very big risk.”