One sunny afternoon in April, Monsurat Yunus, a lady in her twenties, is on the street with a drawer and some empty bowls in search of water. She had left her home in Gbagba, in Ilorin West Local Government some minutes ago; this she regularly does due to water scarcity.
“This water issue is so serious,” she said when this reporter interrupted her journey. “Do you know where we always fetch water? Leapson, and it’s very far. They just provided the water there. We don’t have any water here and we are already tired. See, I’m going to look for water now, only God knows where I’ll get. This one they did here is not useful for us.”
Like Miss Yunus, many residents of Gbagba leave their homes daily in search of water, unsure of where to fetch it.
Mariam Adisa, an old woman who heard the conversation with Miss Yunus, said she might not be back till evening. Mrs Adisa explained that many residents have to trek up to 25 minutes to fetch at a community close to the Ilorin International airport. She added that residents would be grateful if the borehole, meant to serve them, is repaired.
“It’s up to three years now, and we have not used it at all since they did it. It just (remained) how they left it,” she said.
Gbagba community is one of the communities in Kwara Central Senatorial District that benefited from the N100 million naira solar-powered borehole project sponsored by Senator Bukola Saraki. Mr Saraki, while representing Kwara Central in the Senate between 2015 and 2019 also served as president of the Senate within the period.
As is customary, Mr Saraki nominated the project as part of his Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) in 2017. However, the community still suffers water scarcity as the borehole stopped working almost immediately after it was commissioned in 2018.
When community dwellers noticed that the borehole had stopped working, they mobilised to repair it but this has not changed their condition.
“We changed the pumping machine the contractors brought, yet, we can’t fetch from it,” another resident, Abdulrasheed Adesokan, said, adding that several repair efforts have followed. “We’ve not been able to fetch this water since they did it.”
Why The Borehole Is Not Functioning
UDEME observed that the area where the borehole was sunk is overgrown with bushes and some of the water tanks have fallen. Some residents of the community now use the site as a charging point while some others hang their washed clothes on the net fencing the borehole.
Onipofi Abdullateef, who also resides in the community, said the borehole was not deeply sunk and could not reach the water point. He noted that the water shortage is usually worse during harmattan season when the few water supplies in the community dry up.
Residents say they contacted the contractor for the repair of the boreholes, but their efforts proved abortive as he did not oblige to their calls.
When UDEME contacted the Zanaqhs Global Link Limited, Abuja, he cut the call abruptly after saying “the retention on it was even paid successfully as far back as 2018, so that’s not possible.”
UDEME could not reach the supervising agency, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), as the number found on their website is non-existing. The ministry’s spokesperson, Theodore Ogaziechi, left the position in April and hasn’t been replaced.
Same Story In Gaa-Lamba
Gaa Lamba in Asa Local Government of Kwara State is another community in Kwara central with similar issues as Gbagba.
In 2020, the lawmaker representing Asa/Ilorin West local government in the House of Representatives, Abdulyekeen Alajagusi, nominated a N25 million project to ease the burden of water scarcity in the community.
The budgetary allocation was meant for the provision of motorised boreholes at Alapa/Onire Odegiwa ward. One of these boreholes was sunk at Gaa Lamba. A 2021 report by UDEME, however, showed that the borehole stopped working in January 2021, the same month it was installed.
UDEME visited the community again in March 2022 and observed that the borehole is still not working. The net guarding it has been torn apart and is now being used to hang washed clothes, just like they do in Gbagba.
A resident of the community, Bilikis Garba, complained that residents of the community have to queue at the hand pump in the village to fetch water.
“We fetch from the PamuPamu (hand pump), and that’s not enough for the whole community. We have to queue, sometimes since evening, and some might not even get water till or 2 a.m. Some people will not even get water at all,” she said.
Another resident, Dauda Mohammed, explained that the borehole has not been working because there’s very little water at the installation site. He urged the government to fix the borehole.
“They should help us check another place with water. This area where it was installed does not have water,” he said, adding that the residents have to make do with the few boreholes that are available in the community.
Although the boreholes were installed in these two communities, Gaa Lamba, Ilorin West LGA, and Gbagba, Asa LGA at different times, the claims of the residents show that they both have similar problems, depth and lack of water at the borehole site. These boreholes could not serve their purpose–reducing water shortage.
Secretary, National Association of Hydrogeologists, Ilorin Chapter, Dr Olusegun Omoniyi, urged borehole sinkers to properly assess project sites to determine the availability of water to reduce the possibility of a sinkhole.
“In geology or in hydrogeology, as a practice, there’s a way by which we also do an exploration of the place where the borehole is to be drilled. So we call it geophysical exploration. So there’s a need to do exploration, and when that is done, that reduces the rate of failure in borehole drilling.”
“If the geophysical survey was not carried out, there could be a failure because it means you are just buying what some people call black market, you don’t have a focus where you are drilling to.”
Dr Omoniyi noted that most boreholes fail due to contractors’ lack of technical expertise or negligence of some essential procedures during the drilling process.
The supervising agency. Lower Niger River Basin Development Agency (LNRBDA) could not be reached for comments. While calls to the number on their website are not going through, this reporter was not attended to during a visit to the Ilorin office in May.
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