Warri/Effurun Water Scheme: The biggest wastage in the history of Delta state
By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
This is the Delta State Government owned Warri/Effurun Water Scheme, a multi-billion Naira water project and the biggest in the South South geo political zone, but has not produced a drop of water in the last 7 years after the State Water Resources Ministry received well over N10, 671,125,661 as budgetary allocation in four (4) years.
The above quoted budgetary allocation excludes all the billions that were similarly allocated to the ministry during Governor Okowa’s first term in the office (2015-2019).
To add context to the discourse, in 2019, N1, 668,278,222 was budgeted for the ministry, while in 2020, it was N2,340,606,626. The budget increased to N2,809,020,407.00 in 2021 while it was pegged atN3,853,220,406.00 in 2022.
More specifically, in 2017, The Delta State House of Assembly approved Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s request for a N4.5billion performance bond. The bond from Fidelity Bank was for the completion of the Warri-Effurun Water Scheme. The Speaker, Sheriff Oborevwori, read the governor’s letter for the concession. According to the letter, the state government had secured the offer and approval of Fidelity Bank for the issuance of the performance guarantee bond with some terms and conditions. He said the benefits of the bond made the state enter into the agreement, under the new funding plan, particularly in the face of the paucity of funds.
Also making the commentary a reality to worry about is the fact that Governor Okowa had in 2016, during media briefing stated that the people of Warri and its environs will enjoy uninterrupted water supply under his watch via concessioning of the 27 years old Warri-Effurun Water Supply Project inherited from previous administration.
But instead of concessioning the project, which commenced in 1993 with a $70 million ADP loan, and occupies a land area of about 15 hectares, Okowa’s administration against all known logic ‘pumped in ’ more budgetary allocation to the ill fated project.
Alas! A recent visit to the Warri Effurun Water Board facility along Airport road in Warri South and Uvwie Local Government Areas, by GbaramatuVoice, shows how wrong the state government was in that ‘investment’. From the visits, it became obvious that the Ministry of Water Resources, which is responsible for rural and urban water supply and technical services is lacking in all these needed capacities. The look at the premises shows a direct opposite of a project that will deliver soonest.
It exposed the falsehood in the state government’s claim.
For instance, the newspaper gathered that the water project is the biggest in the whole of South South geo political zone and has the production capacity for meeting the water needs of Deltans in Warri, Effurun, Udu , Agbaro, Ughelli, Sapele, among others.
The environment aside from looking desolate, abandoned and stripped of human activities, one of the personnel met at the security post told GbaramatuVoice staff who pretended to be a student researching on water resources, that the place is not only moribund but that he cannot place hand on record as to when the water facility last produced a drop of water.
Asked for permission to speak with one of the managers, he advised GbaramatuVoice staff to come back the following day as none was in the office. He quickly urged the GbaramatuVoice staff not to come earlier than 12noon as staff of the board usually strolls in from around 12noon and closes on or before 2pm.
Without doubt, Deltans under Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led state government has suffered ‘Island Poverty” that is, poverty in the means of plenty. It remains a contradiction of the sort that the state is blessed with a lot of water, yet, there is none to drink as a result of the Governor’s inept leadership.
In GbaramtuVoice previous editorial comment, the newspaper was emphatic on how the Governor did not provide water to indigenes of the state. Yet, those that provided for themselves via private boreholes, the Governor sent officials of the Ministry of water resources to go and tax them. From Asaba to Ughelli, Agbor to Issele Uku, the story is the same. GbaramatuVoice considers this development as not only deplorable but postures Okowa’s administration as a disaster.
GbaramatuVoice recalls that the Delta State Government in 2018, approved over N233.78 million and N144.29 million contracts for the upgrading of the Asaba and Ughelli water schemes respectively.
The state Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Fidelis Tilije, (as he then was), said that when completed, the project would improve the volume of public water supply in the two cities.
The commissioner told the peace loving Deltans that the government was determined to provide potable water to Delta residents particularly those in the urban centers. He said that the contract included installation of water prepayment metres which would enable direct connection of public water to 2,000 and 1,000 individual households in Asaba and Ughelli respectively.
Today in both Asaba and Ughelli, there is nothing to show for all the promises. The Governor and his men appear to have forgotten that in line with Millennium Development Goal no 7, a government is to ensure environmental sustainability, which includes the provision of safe water for the people including those in the rural areas. Also, a state government has the primary mandate to provide accessible and sustainable water supply to the people.
Meanwhile, GbaramatuVoice holds the opinion that the Governor must account for what he did with billions of Naira allocated to the state ministry of water resources.
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