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Mixed fortune in Kwara communities over the provision of solar-powered boreholes

Bilikisu Magaji, a middle-aged woman was fatigued after walking kilometres for three hours with a bucket of water on her head. Mrs Magaji, a resident of Gbagba community in Ilorin West Local Government of Kwara State begged this reporter to help her put down the large bucket she had been carrying as she laments about the water problem her community faces. 

“God! When will all these our ‘wahala’ on water stop like this,” She said with a dejected expression on her face.

 “If spent three hours getting a bucket of water, what time do I have to perform other house chores?” she asked. 

“I am tired. If this borehole is working, I would not be going through this kind of ‘wahala’, she said about the abandoned borehole in her community.

Gbagba is one of the communities in the Kwara Central facing acute water shortages despite the allocation of N100 million in 2017 for construction of solar-powered boreholes. The project was elected by a former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki as part of his constituency projects for the year. The project was placed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).

Solar powered borehole at Ile Gbagba

Solar powered borehole at Ile Gbagba

 

When UDEME visited the location of the solar-powered borehole in Gbagba, it was found that the borehole was installed but stopped working almost immediately it was commissioned in 2018.

Mr Abdulrasheed Adesokan, a resident of this community told UDEME, how the community has been suffering from the scarcity of water for years before the solar-powered borehole project was finally built for them in 2018. Unfortunately, his hope of a regular water supply was short-lived

“The project was built in 2018. We have been facing the problem of water scarcity either during the rainy or dry session. If you could check our wells now, you would see that they are dried. We used to trek for 20 minutes down to the community to the only borehole that is serving us to get water,” he said in a voice that revealed a mixture of sadness and pity.

He continued: “I am very happy when the project was brought to us which made people treated the contractors and his workers so kind that they cooked for them. But so sad after the project was done eventually, we couldn’t benefit it. We didn’t use it for more than a month.”

Explaining the steps taken by the community to save the project, he said, “We met with the Ministry of Water to complain and we called repairer who inspected the project and told us that the pipes used were not the original.

Solar powered borehole at Ile Magaji Gbagba

Solar powered borehole at Ile Magaji Gbagba

 

“Aside from that, a member of this community once bought an electronic machine to replace with the solar-power but it didn’t power the borehole”, Abdulrasheed added.

Other Water projects

Among the seven different communities that benefited from the water project elected by Sen. Bukola Saraki, are Fate-Tanke community in Ilorin South Local Government and Agbade Abayawo community in Ilorin West Local Government.

While the people of Gbagba were cheerless about the state of the borehole in their community, residents of Fate-Tanke in Ilorin South LGA and Agbada Abayawo in Ilorin West LGA were applauding the impact of the project in their communities respectively when this reporter visited them. 

Solar powered borehole at Fate-Tanke, Ilorin

Solar powered borehole at Fate-Tanke, Ilorin

 

Inspection of the projects in these two communities showed that the boreholes were installed and serving the people of the communities. Ibrahim Yusuf, the Imam of Agbede community, told UDEME, has helped solved the water scarcity they community experience years ago.

“This water project is very useful to the whole community. Even though it was not the one we were using before, it brought easiness and comfort to the people and it is not benefiting us only, neighbouring areas like Ago, Alate ward, Amalegbe, Ode Olowo, Elewure and others I could not mention.

“Secondly, since the time it was built in 2017, that is three years back, people have been using it without any problem until January this year that it is not pumping well,” he said.

He also revealed that the water project is the only that is feeding the communities most during the rainy season when there is always scarcity of water in his community.

His words: “The water is the only we use most during the dry season when we normally face scarcity”.

Similarly, Dare Afusat, a resident of Fate-Tanke community said the project has helped them solve the dearth of water. She said, “Before the project was built around March 2018, we used to look for where to find water and that was not easy.

Solar powered borehole at Fate-Tanke

Solar powered borehole at Fate-Tanke

 

“But since the time it was provided, fetching of water has been easy for us,” Mrs Afusat added.

Similarly, residents of Kuntu Adeta community in Ilorin West LGA and Dada Okelele community in Ilorin East LGA the provision of solar-powered boreholes in their communities helped to solve the water problem they experienced.

Lamidi Bello, a resident of Kuntu Adeta, said though thieves stole the solar equipment six weeks after it was installed the community donated funds that were used to replace the solar-powered pump to electric powered.

“We are more than 300,000 people in this community. We appealed to the government to give us this project because no water was close to us.

“The project has been serving us well. But just that the solar was stolen not more than six months we started using it and the community raised money to repair it so that it could be using light”, Mr Bello said.

Bilikisu Babatunde, a resident of Okelele Dada community, said the solar-powered borehole was installed in June 2018 and it has made living easy for the people by ameliorating the stress they normally went through before they could get water in the community.

“It was built around June 2018, and since then it has been very helpful to us because to get water now is not as difficult as before because it is the only water we have close to us apart from tap water”, she said.

 “It once spoilt and it was the community that repaired it. We have made it an electronic one because the solar is not that powerful,” she said.

“We have completed the project”- Contractor 

When contacted via phone call, a staff of Zanaqhs Global Link Limited which ‘Truecaller mobile app’ – an application used to detect the identity of callers by mobile users – identified as ‘Idowu Shuiab’, claimed the company has completed the project and has even received their detained fee on the project. 

“We have completed the project and it has been paid for. We have even received the detention on it”, he said in loud voice from the other side of the phone.   

But when confronted with the question on the poor job done on the solar-powered borehole at Gbagba Community, he didn’t give a clear answer but instead instructed this reported to reach out to the agency concern and could not allow further discussion with this reporter.

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