… Moves for total overhaul of Ajali, Oji River water scheme
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration in furtherance of its efforts towards strenghtening the primary health programmes to render more medical services in the rural areas has integrated faith-based rural health facilities into the Free Maternal and Child Health programme.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting of State Executive Council (EXCO), the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fintan Ekochin stated that the Council approved the decision to give the people of Enugu State, especially rural dwellers “free access to medical treatments at the Faith-Based Organizations that have health centres, hospitals in the rural areas”.
Dr. Ekochin added that 10 out of the 17 local government areas of the state will benefit from the first phase of the programme, explaining that “what it simply means is that pregnant women and children under five, who hitherto visit government’s facilities, stand qualified to benefit, accordingly”.
He further explained that the Council’s decision was also part of the drive to reduce maternal and child mortality in the state, saying: “It is a great deed by the Government of Enugu State, which hopes that the people will benefit from the programme effectively”.
Also briefing newsmen, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Dr. Charles Egumgbe, disclosed that the state government has approved the release of its counterpart funding to enable it draw down the fifty million dollars facility from French Development Agency for the total overhaul of Ajali and Oji River Water Scheme as well as expansion of water supply within Enugu metropolis.
Dr. Egumgbe noted that the loan will also take care of the chemical plant in the Ajali Water Scheme, stressing that the whole exercise will entail that “all the homes are metred and supplied with potable water”.
The Water Resources Commissioner stated that the Council constituted a project management committee to run the facility, to be chaired by himself.
He added that Council equally approved the mapping of Enugu to identify the initial pipings to different homes with a view to changing the old pipes with new ones “and expanding them so that water can get to several homes of Enugu State as quickly as possible”.
He revealed that one hundred and twenty thousand US dollars was granted to the state by the Swedish International Water Institute, explaining that “this money will not come in form of cash but to help in training of the staff of the state’s Water Corporation” for efficient service delivery and revenue generation in order to repay the loan facility, among others.
On the issue of accommodation, the Commissioner for Housing, Barrister Peter Okonkwo announced that the Council approved the development of two “world-class” estates, namely “Lion’s Gate Estate” and “Son of David Estate” strategically located at Ugwogo Nike, Enugu East Local Government Area and Ogba-Agu, behind Ikenga Hotel, Nsukka, Nsukka L. G. A, respectively, by private developers.
Barrister Okonkwo explained that housing projects “will spark off an inflow of investments in the state and a multiplier effect of employment for the people of Enugu State”.
He further explained the government’s role includes to “interface with the vendor communities that are land owners”, saying: “We do not want to acquire land; we approach them (land onwers) to negotiate the true value for the land and we open up the offers to the real estate developers to develop”.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe, who emphasized the positive and “monumental” impact of the expansion and integration of the Free Maternal and Child Health programme, said: “What government has done is to empower these faith-based institutions to do the same thing primary healthcare system is doing”.
He finally disclosed that the EXCO also approved the upgrade of the Enugu State Friendship and Call Centre to be more efficient to continue to play its role in making sure that the people of the state access services during emergency.