Estimated reading time: 25 minute(s)
Residents of Abule-Ojere, Oke-Ijofa and Ago-Ika communities of Abeokuta, Ogun State battle with cruel water scarcity and continue to endure long queues to get water.
Amidst this suffering, residents watch helplessly as solar-powered water projects by the government litter their communities.
QUADRI YAHYA visited these communities to report on the plights of residents and how multimillionaire projects are rotting away.
A nursing mother who is also a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Sulaimon Tawakaltu struggles between queueing for water and taking care of her baby everyday.
Tawakaltu wakes up as early as 4.30 am daily to join a queue of other students begging for water from private residences in Abule-Ojere community, a student dominated area in the state capital.
The young mother usually passes through a lot of stress to get water to bathe her baby and for domestic chores.
“Sometimes, I pile up clothes; I wash clothes everyday before. But now, I pile up clothes for more than a week, including my baby’s clothes, due to lack of water,” she said.
The other day, Tawakaltu was seen grumbling as she carried on her head a large bucket of water she fetched at a private residence. .
She narrated her ordeal, “Searching for water often makes me late to class. We have class scheduled at 10.00 am and by 8.00 am, we are still fetching water here. And if there is no water, most of the things to attend to may not be possible.
“At times, I search till 9.00 am; before I bathe my baby, I will be late for class. At times, I miss attendance and even classes. It’s my worst experience in Abule-Ojere”, the younger mother said.
Projects Rot In Bush
While citizens continue to endure scarcity of water in some communities in the state , the lackadaisical attitude and corruption amidst government officials have endangered projects constructed to ease the condition of citizens.
These projects are usually either abandoned or not even constructed at all. However, these projects are financed with taxes paid by citizens or through loan funds .
When PLATFORM TIMES’s reporter visited Abule-Ojere community in Obafemi-Owode local government area of the state on June 20th, 2022, a solar powered water project was overgrown by creepy grasses.
It was observed that the well-designed borehole was fixed with 15 taps in total but five of them are now broken. The barbed wire around it has been tampered with by the students who play football on the small area beside it.
This reporter also took another visit to Oke-Ijofa in Abeokuta-North revealed that the condition of the borehole in the area located behind a secondary school, was similar to the one sighted at Abule-Ojere. It had broken pipes .
Findings by our correspondent showed that when the borehole broke down, the community decided to repair it.
Some of the residents who spoke with this reporter said they said another engine was purchased and the government-owned project was being commercialised.
Borehole Projects Broke Down Months After Completion
Residents of Abule-Ojere, Oke-Ijofa and Ago-Ika communities told PLATFORM TIMES that when the boreholes were dug, their hope of having a steady water supply was revived.
According to the residents, the projects were constructed around late 2019, the borehole broke down not quite long.
A resident of Oke-Ijofa, Chief Isiaka Quadri stressed that the impact of the project was not felt before it broke down, adding that the borehole drilling was shallow.
“We didn’t benefit from the project at all. You will see that the tank was joined, it was after it was erected that they did that. After that, it worked for about two months and stopped.”
He added, “When the engineer came to inspect it, he said they didn’t dig it deep.”
Residents Buy Water
For over 20 years, an aged woman, Iya Agbodo has been suffering from lack of easy access to water.
The woman in her 70s said it is heartbreaking for her to be buying water while a water project across her house has been useless since it was constructed.
In a sad tone, she said it hurts her feelings taking out some money from the meagre profit she makes from hawking dried fish to buy water that could have been free.
“We didn’t fetch it for two weeks because it became nonfunctional within a week or so”, the woman said, hissing and shunned further the interview.
She explained that a keg of water cost N100.
A calculation done by this reporter, indicated that the old woman may spend nothing less than N3,000 to buy water for a month.
“Since we have no choice, we go to far places to fetch water; and if one cannot go to that extreme, you can call helpers and pay N100 per jerry can. That’s how we fetch it”, the woman said.
Iya Agbodo also resides in Abule-Ojere.
But the experience of Quadri Rashida, a food seller who lives in Oke-Ijofa community is quite similar.
“I use water for cooking the food that I am selling, of which part of the little profit is being used for buying water”, Rashida shared with the reporter after she was persuaded to speak.
The trio who told their stories, lamented that they depend on private residences to get water.
How Govt Project Gulped Our N200,000 Contribution – Community Leaders
PLATFORM TIMES’s reporter met with some community leaders at Oke-Ijofa in one of his visits.
The community leaders explained how their efforts to rehabilitate the failed project had proven abortive.
They disclosed that the government project has gulped the sum of N200,000 contribution collected as levies from residents.
Speaking with this reporter, Chief Ishola Liadi, Alagba Ilu Ofa said that at a time, the landlords association resolved to look into the cause of the problem of the solar-powered borehole which made it dormant .
Liadi stated that an engineer was invited to check the borehole, adding that the engineer advised that the solar-powered borehole should be exchanged for electric one .
“The engineer said the solar panel cannot power the borehole, that it should be connected to electricity. We did that and yet, it didn’t work for a long time.”
The chief explained that after connecting the borehole to electricity, it was discovered that the engine was of low capacity and had developed a fault.
“They said the engine was faulty and we said they should change it,” adding that , “the money the community has spent on the borehole project is more than N200,000. Again, we have been advised to buy a new engine which will cost N45,000. It’s what we are considering now. We have condemned the solar panels.”
Residents Seek Government’s Intervention
“It would have been a joy if it worked. What we want now is that they should help us repair it”, Rashida, the food seller said.
Also, Secretary to the landlord association in Abule-Ojere community, Ogunwole Salmon said if the government should intervene by rehabilitating the project, it will help the residents.
“It will help the residents greatly. It is a source of headache for me to see many of our children who are supposed to be on their way to school looking for water to take their baths. Also, students of the polytechnic, most of the time, will come down to this place to get water.”
Salmon stressed that the community yearned for an effective borehole, saying “the government can also help by providing more boreholes”.
However, the community leader in Oke-Ijofa, Liadi disclosed that effort to reach the lawmaker to intervene in the project has proven abortive since the lawmaker lost re-election.
“We called the lawmaker but he refused to show up. He said he has done what he was sent to do. He lost re-election.
He added, “If the government can help us dig the borehole deeper to serve the community. We want to implore them to help us. If Hon. Mikky Kazeem can help us too, we will appreciate it”, he said.
When contacted, the lawmaker who represented Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode federal constituency at the time the projects were constructed, Mikky Kazeem said the residents should reach out to the ministry if they have complaints about the project.
The ex-lawmaker, who lost his re-election bid, said he is not convinced that the projects broke down weeks after they were completed.
He said,”Nobody has reported [that] the borehole is not working. And I am yet to believe that it was after two weeks the borehole was sunk that it stopped working.
“If it was after two weeks [the projects broke down], there are signposts there that state the name of the contractors and the ministry that did the project. You’re free to contact the ministry, why come to me?
“I can only help. Moreover, I am not the Rep anymore. You could write to the ministry about the project that was carried out and you didn’t enjoy it,” the lawmaker said.
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