Date Published: 11/24/09
New Initiative for water provision begins in Ekiti By Lere Olayinka
For Governor Segun Oni of Ekiti State, the old order in water production and distribution in the State must change. Not minding the fact that the State now has total installed capacity of 185,100 litres over 100 litres above its total average water demand of 75 litres per day, Governor Oni is still of the opinion that access to water by Ekiti people must be made to improve through Public-Private-Participation (PPP).
And in his usual characteristic of carrying the people along in his government programmes, the governor spent the better part of last week explaining the merits of the new public-private-partnership initiative in water production, under which the government intends to concession out some water production facilities in the State to private companies.
Interactive sessions on the concession initiative started with traditional rulers in the State on Wednesday while Governor Oni took time to explain the initiative to other stakeholders in the Ekiti project the following day.
Making use of audio visual slides to explain efforts of his administration to ensure that water gets to all nooks and crannies of the State, Governor Oni stressed the need for the State government to maximally utilize the large volume of surface water available in the State for local consumption and sale to neighbouring States of the federation.
He explained that under the initiative, private organisations would be given rights to produce water, which the government will then buy and distribute to the people. Three major dams in the State are to be concession to private investors. They are Ureje, Itapaji and Ero dams.
The private investors will be basically responsible for production of water at water production facilities and dams across the State while the State Water Corporation would be saddled with the responsibility of quality control, collection of revenue and proper distribution of water to the people.
This is aimed at optimising water production from existing plants, attract investments necessary to refurbish and expand water treatment plants, produce enough water to meet the demands of the State and possibly sell to other States and attract non water investments like power, tourism and aquaculture thereby optimising the uses of the water dams.
Governor Oni explained that with the new development in the water sector, the State would be able to attain its full potentials of producing 205 million litres of water per day, which is two and half times more the present approximated demand of the 75 million litres per day.
The governor, who opined that private sector involvement in public enterprises reduces bureaucracy, brings efficient gains and management skills improvement, increases customer satisfaction and minimises corruption, cited the example of the telecommunication industry, which is private sector driven.
Already, three companies, Kemeng Services Limited, Batiments Technical Limited and Ero Power Company Limited have submitted proposals for the project. Apart from its interest in water production at Ureje Dam, Ado-Ekiti, Kemeng is proposing a N50 million investment in aquaculture while Ero Power Company, which is interested in Ero Dam is proposing a N400 million investment in hydro-power generation and another N500 million in tourism. Batiments in its own proposal is seeking to restore production capacity and capability of Itapaji dams to 5.2 million litres per day and increment to 30 million litres per day in future through the injection of N600 million.
Water produced at the dam by private investors would be bought by the State government and sold to the people at normal rate while Local Government Councils would pay in bulk for water fetched by members of the public at Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fetching points and other public taps.
Collection of water rates is also to be improved upon with the involvement of youths and consultants in various local councils. The youths and the consultants would be remunerated based on the percentage of rates collected.
Presently, between 2,000 and 9,000 litres of water is being sold to tankers at 22 kobo per litre while 20 litre keg cost N5. A flat rate of N50 per room and N500 per flat is also being charged. When the concession begins, one litre of water will be sold to consumers at 15 kobo per litre while it will while the government will buy from the concessionaires at 7.5 kobo per litre.
While pointing out that leasing out of the dams to private investors will not lead to an increase in the price of water but rather ensure a massive increase in production of water at a much lower cost, Governor Oni noted that the initiative was not removal of subsidy or deregulation, but a process of ensuring optimal production at a lower cost. He added that members of staff of the State Water Corporation would not be retrenched but would be involved in quality control, distribution of water and the reading of Water Meters.
The State Commissioner for Public Utilities, Mr. Dapo Agbede and the Director General, Bureau of Public Private Partnership, Mrs. Lanke Omojola expressed hope that the concession of the dams will produce effective results.
Reacting to the development, the Obas, who took turns to commend the initiative raised some observations and suggestions on how to make the policy effective.
The Obas included Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe, Onitaji of Itaji, Oba Adamo Babalola, Olosi of Osi-Ekiti, Oba Oladiran Agunbiade, Oore of Otun, Oba Adedapo Popoola and Elemure of Emure, Oba Emmanuel Adebayo among others.
They advised the government to ensure that private investors, who want to handle the dams, have capacity to maintain them.
Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Arinjale of Ise, Oba Adetunji Ajayi assured the governor of the support of the traditional rulers.
Also speaking during the last Thursday Stakeholders Forum, State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Chief Joseph Arogundade commended the initiative of the Governor and promised that the Labour will support the idea.
Governor Oni also used the occasion to reel out the achievements of his government in the area of water provision, saying; “In the last two years, Ekiti State Government has embarked on the most comprehensive ‘Water for All Programme’ in Africa to date.”
He said the basic idea of the programme was to increase water supply to the people of the State from mostly surface water by increasing water production capability and capacity while also increasing water distribution density.
Governor Oni noted that 81 contracts ranging from construction/rehabilitation, construction of water fetching points, supply and laying of pipes, construction of reservoir to supply and installation of generators of booster stations were awarded and are already completed.
Some of the booster stations and reservoir construction or rehabilitated included those at Isinbode, Aramoko, Ijan, Oke-Ako, Ifaki, Ise, Itawure, Ikogosi Ado, Ogotun and Ilasa. 10 water fetching points were also constructed in each of the 177 wards in the State with a total of 14,160 taps. A total of 229.9 kilometres of water pipelines were laid while 21 kilometres were rehabilitated. Another 31.1 kilometres are now being laid under the new pipeline extension.
Also in its bid to increase water production in the State, new water treatment plant has been constructed at Ado-Ekiti while those Ido-Ile, Okemesi, Efon, Ipole-Iloro and Erijiyan are under construction. Work has also started at the N5 billion Ogbese Dam project. The dam, which will have capacity to produce 10 million litres of water per day will also be used for hydro electricity generation and irrigation.
And as Ekiti people begin to look forward to the coming year, 2010, one thing appears certain; water and power problems will be the least of the problems they would need to worry themselves about. This is because in the words of Governor Oni; “the much awaited 132/33 KV, which started in the early 70s would have been completed and water production put in private hands, thus bringing effectiveness and efficiency.
Olayinka is a Special Assistant on Media to Ekiti State Governor