June 16, 2020

Economic Sabotage: FG to go tough on erring operators in water sector

Says land degradation, deforestation others threaten water resources

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Federal Government, Tuesday, disclosed of going tough on erring operators in the water sector over economic sabotage over the years.

This was made known by the Executive Director, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, Engr Magashi Umar Bashir, in a statement made available to Vanguard, pointing out that the nation’s abundant water resources are threatened by land degradation, deforestation, rapid population growth, and other socio-economic development as well as climate change which have placed tremendous pressure on water resources of the country.

According to Bahir, the Commission has developed a Water Strategic Development Plan, WSDP, with the intention to provide for present and future water needs as well as support collaboration between the government and Ministries, Departments, and Agencies including States with responsibilities for water management.

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He said: “Today we are faced with a global health crisis, which requires Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Waste Water Management in the prevention and fights against the spread of the COVID-19. Hand washing and the use of alcohol-based sanitizers are key to preventing coronavirus.

“While Nigeria appears to have abundant water resources, the sustainability of the water resources is threatened by land degradation, deforestation, rapid population growth, and other socio-economic development as well as climate change which have placed tremendous pressure on water resources of the country.

“Most of you have been inquiring about our control measures for the borehole drillers in the country. It may interest to know that the Commission will push for a declaration of a state of an emergency in this water resources subsector.

“The groundwater subsector is very important to the socio-economic development of any nation. Over the years this subsector has been indiscriminately exploited by some of the operators to the detriment of public and the Commission is poised to bring sanity to bear in the subsector. Violators will be sanctioned and prosecuted for economic sabotage.

“The groundwater resources will also be protected from chemical contamination from our industries and allied plants. Operators in the industry are implored to obtain a permit from the Commission.

“Water is the newly discovered oil, the Commission has generated revenue through licensing which has contributed to the economic revenue base, poverty alleviation, and job opportunities for the teeming youth, and growth of the economy.

“Recently, the Commission presented the Waterwell Contractors License (Individual Hydrogeologists Category) to 10 qualified applicants.

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“The Commission is also monitoring the activities of all companies issued with Water Licenses to ensure they operate within the terms and conditions of the licenses given to them, pursuant to section 19, Water Resources Act, Cap W2, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and particularly the Water Use and License Regulations 2016.

“Refusal or failure to obtain the water use license is a clear violation of the Water Resources Act Cap W2 LFN 2004 and constitutes an offense, liable to prosecution in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

He also added that the Commission is encouraging research and development of more water sources from willing partners and focused on improving the water supply sources.

“The Commission is focused on improving the water supply sources and advocating for the sustainable management and regulation of water resources in its entirety. Currently, we are developing a Water Source Protection Plan which will protect both surface and groundwater sources against pollution and restoration of sound river health”, he said.

According to the Commission’s boss, so far 23 water licenses have been issued, while many more applications are being processed.

He also disclosed that “The Water Use License operation has contributed immensely to the National Economy through the facilitation of the development of hydroelectric power generation, commercial irrigated agriculture, Registration of Bulk Water Users (Water Bottling Companies) mining and other social-economic and industrial spheres.”