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More people to have water in Enugu as gov’t continues with replacement, extension of pipelines

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The Enugu State Government has continued with the replacement and extension of pipelines in areas without water across the metropolis and its outskirts, raising hope of capturing more residents without access to clean and potable water.

The state governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, who was on inspection tour to some of the ongoing extension projects in some parts of the capital city on Monday, charged residents to take ownership of the water facilities and protect them against sabotage and vandalisation, warning those deliberately vandalizing state assets, leading to frequent leakage of water and a huge cost to the government, to desist from the illegal act or face severe consequences.

Speaking to newsmen in Enugu, the governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, said different security measures were being taken including kinetic and non-kinetic measures such as engagement with the beneficiaries of the water project to guard against activities of vandals, adding that law enforcement agents were on the lookout for those destroying the water facilities.

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“We anticipated that those that benefitted in the past through selling of water at a very high cost in Enugu will feel the need to continue to work against the vision of the governor, Dr. Peter Mbah. So, part of what they are doing is not something that we did not anticipate in our strategy. But the incident you have seen cannot be compared to the quantum of the incidents you would have heard if it hasn’t been for some intervention plans we put in place. So, people have gone around doing all sort of things, going around cutting and vandalizing water collection points. Stealing the heads, and in some instances, breaking the pipes completely. Two things we have thought about doing as a government; one is to provide adequate security in some of these locations, but more importantly, is for communities to take ownership of the infrastructure being brought to their communities.

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“These are people that have not had water for over a decade. So, we brought water to them, put those fetching points as first line intervention pending when reticulation gets to their homes. We expect to work with the local government chairmen, the councilors, the presidents-general and community leaders to be able to now say to them, government is doing what they have promised and to ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure, you have to be committed in that process. And that’s the conversation we had in that process. The conversation we had with them earlier, and there was commitment but you do know in these things, there are going to be instances where people are going to push an agenda that is contrary,” he said.

According to him, the administration gave a timeline of 180 days to make water available to the people and was able to meet the target within the timeframe, saying the extension work at Abakpa, some parts of Independence Layout, and other new areas in the metropolis was necessary to ensure that all homes in the state have access to safe-drinking water as promised in the governor’s manifesto.

He maintained that most of the pipes that were being replaced with modern and globally accepted ones were those laid by the former Premier of the Old Eastern Region, Dr Michael Okpara, which had not only outlived their lifespan but had become unsafe for the transportation of water for consumption.

“It is important to note that the 180-days timeline to bring water to Enugu was achieved, over 60,000 cubic meters of water coming into Enugu. What His Excellency is doing right now is ensuring that reticulation and also ensuring that these old pipes, like what you are seeing now which were all laid during the Michael Okpara era, are replaced. Some of them are outdated, some are asbestos, and we are replacing them across the whole city to ensure safety and the quality of water that Enugu people will be getting. So, when we released the quantity of water with that pressure, most of these things blew up, and most of you remember all over Enugu and on social media pipes were blowing up.

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“So, what we are doing now, His Excellency has asked me to come and inspect to see the level of work being done to replace and get water to the last mile which is to the people while we are doing expansion work around reticulation to areas that were not initially piped or connected. That is what you noticed we did in Abakpa. The same thing we did in Coal Camp, and now we are around Independence Layout to make sure that this connects to Independence Layout and also down towards Ogui around Obiagu area. We are in a hurry to make sure we achieve what we have set out to achieve. Most of the contractors will be back to site tomorrow and we have asked them to come to the office to look at their work plan and ensure that there are very stringent measures and monitoring to what we have agreed with them at the beginning of this project,” he further explained.

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