By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Executive Director, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, NIWRMC, Engr Magashi Umar Bashir, Thursday, disclosed what has been put in place to control incessant drilling of boreholes across the country in order to safeguard the environment and lives of Nigerians.
Bashir, speaking with Vanguard said the Commission is seriously out to sanitise the water sector as a regulatory agency of the sector, hence has met with leaders of borehole drilling associations on how to curb the menace through various strategies.
According to him, a Memorandum of Understanding will soon be signed with the associations as soon as the COVID-19 protocols are eased in order to effectively monitor activities in the sector.
He said: “What we are doing actually when I came on board I found out that the Commission has a very big role play particularly in terms of licensing and regulation because we are supposed to regulate the whole sector itself. We are bringing drillers and there are two driller associations; Borehole Drillers Association of Nigeria, BODAN, and Association of Water-well Drillers Owners and Practitioners, AWDROP.
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“We are bringing them together and in fact, we supposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, last week, but because of the COVID-19 releases that there should not be more than four people in a place and we decided to leave it and until that is being eased.
“So we bring them together and work with them; to register their members to get permits to operate and we send letters to places. Particularly we send a letter to BPP that any person who is taking part in the biding in terms of boreholes should be registered with the Commission.
“Why are they registering? It is because we want them to register so we can monitor and follow their activities. Government is much more interested in the data than what they are generating from this borehole drilling.”
However, he pointed out that, “We are aware that borehole drilling has caused a lot of damages to the environment. It is still in our memory of what has happened in Mpape and we are talking about tremors and all that.
“These are some of the things we want to control so that drilling is not done anyhow.”
According to him, a lot of sensitization has been going on various communication platforms including radio stations, newsletters, and others.
He also disclosed that soon violators of the regulations will face stringent penalties for their actions.
“We have gone to radio stations, where I talk about this since I came, we did this advocacy, send them newsletters and we will continue to talk on this all the time.
“We have people in this country as we have been saying feel they are above the law and can do anything, which is actually not right, and people in power and position try to not listen and all that.
“We are moving towards that and gradually we are getting to where penalties will be established for all these things even though they are all written and in the paper”, he stated.