July 27, 2020

Nigeria losses billions of Naira to non-payment for water use — Engr Bashir

Water Resources Bill

Warns one-day water resource’ll cease

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

The Executive Director, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, NIWRMC, Engr Magashi Umar Bashir, Monday, disclosed that Nigeria is losing billions of Naira to non-payment for water use by big companies.

Bashir made this known to Vanguard in an interview where he stated that well known corporate organizations that are into bottled water production, oil and gas, breweries, construction, irrigation, power, mining, and others are the major violators.

According to him, only a few are registered despite reaching out to them with letters, which they do not respond as expected because of some persons backing them, hence denying the country huge revenue that would be been used for the development of other sectors, especially now the international price of oil is fluctuating.

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He said: “Like I said there are still many more that are not coming to register themselves I will give examples like breweries, oil companies because they use water, mining industry, construction companies and most of these foreign companies but because they have giants behind them.

“This is not what government should allow being happening because we have a lot of foreign companies that are bottling water and you cannot go to their countries and say you want to establish water bottling company, rather you will be made to go through all the processes of that country but is obtainable here.

“We are losing billions of Naira for sure and they are taking the good that belongs to all, the groundwater belongs to every Nigerian.

He also disclosed that “We were invited by the Senate Committee on Non-Oil Revenue. I showed them some projections that we can really make money from water for the country.

“I am talking about companies making use of bulk water both groundwater and surface water. These are the big irrigation schemes, bottling companies, refineries, construction companies, mining companies, all these can bring in good money. Only a few are registered and we are trying to see we reach out to these companies.”

He further stated that the Commission had a target of almost N1 billion as money to be generated for the country but has been hampered by the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, COID-19, pandemic.

“We have a target and we were thinking of almost N1 billion for the country in 2020, once we are able to bring all these companies on board. The money does not come to our agency but goes to the Treasuring Single Account, TSA, and what comes to us is only processing fees, and probably when we collect this money there is a provision we can only use 25 per cent of that money and even that money is audited”, he said.

However, the water resources expert warned that due to the way and manner issue of water resources is handled in this country one day Nigerians will wake up and discover that water resources are gone, hence the need to have infrastructures to safeguard this precious commodity including floodwaters for other uses.

“We still don’t have a sense of understanding that one day that water is a finite good that will end and it is just like oil.

“We are talking of climate and all that we are having excess rain now and what have we done with that? Of course, it flows into the sea and part of it flourishes the ground. It is the whole garment of things. Sometimes when something is missing it leads to another thing.

“Now, quite some time and a long time we have not been talking about famine because we are experiencing excess rain due climatic conditions but we can wake up one day and find out that the rains are no there, and then what have we conserved, the rains are not going to be there for us all the time.

“What do we do when we have not put any structures together to get this water? In fact, some of our dams are drying up. We know about the Goronyo Dam, particularly those in the northern part of the country including Lake Chad is having a problem for quite some time, and it is drying up affecting about nine states, and that is why we have a meeting last year which the President, Minister, and Countries that belong to Lake Chad came together looking at the water transfer from Obangi.

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“Why is it happening we need to look at the watershed, the waters that flow, some of the main rivers that flow into Goronyo Dam, River Gusau, some of them the watershed extends as far back to Katsina, and if there are no rains nothing flows from Katsina up to Zamfara through Gusau to Goronyo Dam.

“So these are some of the things including activities of man interfere with the ecosystem that leads from one thing to the other, but when at the times of putting these dams they must have looked at the perfect conditions but we ought to have in those times modeling was been introduced we must have put in those perimeters that can tell you that in some particular years it will be dry what happens?

“Now if we have dry years no water comes in and we are using water for other activities. We are taking away water and water also goes to and there could be problems in terms of construction and others because when there major fracture or fault along the line of any dam water will be lost to those faults, so that water we are trapping in a place goes somewhere because we wanted to get it here and use it for irrigation and other areas, and that is the problem of construction. We really need to be careful and be more vigilant when we construct dams”, he stated.