By Godwin Egbara
Water constitutes an essential part of human needs. Man survive without electricity supply, road and other social amenities but not with water. In their attempt to meet the needS of the citizenry, government at various levels have invested much in the provision of water not only for human consumption but also for animal and for other purposes.
The absence of water has resulted in outbreak of diseases and it related consequences. The present drought ravaging Somalia and the refugees crisis affecting Kenya points to the fact that water is indeed an essential commodity for the survival of man.
Because of its prominence, water has long played an important religious and philosophical role in human history. In the 6th century BC, Thales of Miletus, sometimes credited for initiating Greek philosophy, regarded water as the sole fundamental building block of matter.
Water in different forms constitutes the earth- atmosphere, sky, mountains, beasts, birds, grass and trees, animals down to worms, flies and ants. All these are different forms of water composition.
Realizing the importance of water, the Cross River government in Southern Nigeria, has invested much in the provision of potable water to her citizenry. In all the urban development centres, government has made adequate provision for the water supply.
From Ogoja to Obudu in the Northern Senatorial Zone to Ugep and Obubra in the Central Senatorial Zone and to Calabar and Bakassi in the Sourthern part, the Cross River state government has done much to see that water regularly flow from the pipe of residents in the state. Unlike other states surrounded by sea but yet no potable water to drink, Calabar case is different in that the capital, local government areas and other surrounding communities have access to potable water.
However, a recent publication in the State Government owned newspapers, Nigerian Chronicle, has suggested that water pumped by the State Water Board is not good for human consumption. According to the publication, boreholes owners in the state and some other groups, alleged that the water pumped to the public from the State Water Board is full of dirty particles, and has colouration.
Reacting to this publication, the Managing Director of the Cross River State Water Board Limited, Engr. Edem Etowa, sharply disagreed with this allegation. According to him, it is imagination of his competitors to discredit his board. Engr. Etowa explained that water served from his board meet World Health Organization standards.
Addressing newsmen at Etim Bassey Press Centre, Calabar, the Managing Director explained that when the Board heard of this allegation, he invited boreholes owners to a meeting, where they suggested for a day and venue of the meeting. He however noted that to his greatest surprise, they refused to show off at the meeting. He noted such allegations made against the board was a mere competitative gimmick which do not hold water.
According to him, because of the confidence he has on the quality of water served to the public, he does not drink bottled water in his house but rely entirely on the water supply by the board. According to him, before other state governments started treating their water, the Cross River Government had been importing Chlorine from Germany and South Africa.
Etowa assured water consumers in the state to disregard the misinformation peddled by enemies of the board. He assured them that the quality of the water served to the public meet the requirement of international standard noting that the board is committed in ensuring that the public is served with the best quality water.
He however solicited for the cooperation of the public in ensuring that they pay their water bills promptly. He noted that there is no way the Board would continue to render quality service without a corresponding patronage from the public. He advised water consumer to pay their water bill to the bank and to any individual.
The Managing Director assured that his Board would continue to provide adequate water to the public. According to him, the provision of potable water in the state would in the nearest future surpass the standard set by the Millennium Development Goal on water project.
Speaking on the challenges faced by his Board, Engr. Etowa observed that irregular payment of water bill, illegal connection and broken down pipes are part of the challenges facing his Board. He noted that many residents cut corners as they are not patience enough to wait for the board to connect them. He noted that those who engage in such act, would have themselves to be blame and the board would disconnect such people.
He observed that many residents and organizations who were connected illegally are responsible for their own predicament. According to him, the board would disconnect those who do not pay their water rate as well as those who were illegally connected. He however assured those who pay their bill of regular and constant supply of potable water.
Engr. Etowa however accused the management of the Cross River State University of Technology for engaging in sharp practices. According to him, when the management of the University approached them for water reticulation in their main campus, a bill was submitted to them. Rather than settling the bill, the University management decided to engage in illegal connection.
On the scarcity of prepaid meters, the Managing Director assured that the cost of the meter is responsible for the scarcity but assured that in future, the meter would be made available to many household. He noted that for now, the meter only serve some major customers but noted that his Board is doing every thing possible to ensure that the meter is available to water consumers in the state.
With the explanation offered by the Managing Director on the safety of the water pumped by the Board, residents of Calabar can now drink water freely from their pump. It is hoped that the Board would sustain her standard of ensuring that water pumped to the public is safe for human consumption. It is when this is done consistently that those who are cannot compete with the board will have to fold up as they will lose patronage.
Perhaps the board should regularly monitor the quality of water served to the public to ascertain the quality. Sample from various pumps gathered should be analyzed to ensure that the water pump to the public meet with the World Health Organization standard.
*Egbara wrote in from Calabar, capital of Cross River in Southern Nigeria