THE PERENNIAL ENUGU WATER PROBLEM
Water is life. Thales, a philosopher of antiquity, had posited that “water” is the source of all things. Out of water, he said, came everything in the world. Thales maintained that the earth itself rests on water and that everything in the world has moisture.
Aristotle suggested that Thales might have derived his conclusion from his observation, “perhaps from seeing that the nutrient of all things is moist, and that heat is generated from the moist and kept alive by it” as well as from the fact that “the seeds of all things have a moist nature, and water is the origin of the nature of moist things”.
Whether Thales’ hypothesis of water being the source of all things is true or not, the important thing was that he had stimulated scientific enquiry; he set the mind at work, thinking, rather than the mytho-religious rationalization of reality prevalent in those days.
Jesus Christ spoke about the “living water”, “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” He knew and recognized the importance of water. He thirsted for water and asked the Samaritan woman He met at Jacob’s well, to give Him water to drink. “Whoever drinks of this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”.
People look for water everywhere to quench their thirst, for their domestic chores, and for their various other uses. Very often, there will find no water. People will be disappointed, frustrated. They will improvise, look for anything to quench their thirst, whether pure or impure, good or bad, that is, where the government has failed in its duty, because it is part of the responsibilities of government to provide water. Water is one of the prime necessities of life. Nobody can do without water.
For long, particularly since after the Nigeria-Biafra war, Enugu, the Coal City, Capital of East Central State, Capital of Anambra State, Capital of Enugu State, has been grappling with the problem of lack of portable water: water to drink, and water for their other essential needs.
Not only that most of the infrastructures put in place for the provision of water to Enugu before the war were destroyed during the war, or have become dilapidated, Enugu itself is growing by leaps and bound, geometrically expanding, but without the relevant authorities keeping track of that development and providing the necessary infrastructures to meet with the challenges, or they pay mere lip service.
Since the Second Republic in 1979, we have been hearing about the “Greater Enugu Water Scheme” that was meant to provide water to inhabitants of Enugu Metropolis. We have been hearing about the Ajali Water Scheme; we have been hearing about the Iva Valley Water Project; we have been hearing about the Oji Water Production Plant; all geared at supplying water to Enugu Town. But they seem to have all come to naught.
We have listened to several annual budget speeches by successive governors of the area and the amount of money budgeted each year for the provision of water to Enugu. We have seen excavations and the laying of water pipes across some parts of Enugu Town. But they have translated to nothing tangible. There are still no water taps in many parts of Enugu City, or those that are there have become dry.
We have heard about the Enugu Water Reform Programme, the magnificent plans to give water to Enugu, as well as the various assistance by several international organizations like the World Bank, the WaterAid, DFID, etc., towards the provision of water to Enugu. But we have not seen them bear fruitful results.
We know that there is a full fledged government ministry charged with the responsibility of formulating the water policy of Enugu State, and that there is a government agency responsible for providing water to inhabitants of Enugu State, and Enugu City in particular. But we are yet to see their efforts come to fruition in terms of water running in many parts of Enugu.
In other words, in spite of all these government efforts, all these budgetary provisions, all these international assistance, Enugu still remains without water, with many residents of the town groaning, due to acute water problem.
From Trans Ekulu to Iva Valley, to Coal Camp, Idaw River, Awkunanaw, Top Land, Achara Layout, Uwani, Mary Land, Independence Layout, Ogui New Layout, Obiagu, Emene, Abakpa Nike, GRA, the newly created several housing estates, schools, churches and hospitals, the government secretariat, and even the Government House itself, etc., there is no water to drink, and for several other needs. Many people who live, or who do business in these areas, had never seen, or visualised any running tap water. They do not know how water runs out from taps.
What they are all familiar with are water tanker vendors that supply them with water, using their rickety and dirty water tankers, the sources of such water, they do not know.
Practically, every public or private houses in Enugu have hand dung wells from where the people draw water for their various domestic chores. But with the long drawing dry season currently being experienced, most of these hand dung wells have dried up, and many Enugu residents have now become helpless.
With many several diseases now in the air – Coronavirus, Lassa Fever, Cholera, etc., residents of Enugu City now live in danger. Explosion of any of diseases in Enugu would be of dangerous consequences, because there would be no water to contain them. As a matter of fact, it is only by the grace of God that Enugu has not yet experienced any epidemic of catastrophic proportion, due to lack of portable water to drink and to keep the environment clean.
We therefore earnestly urge the authorities to urgently rise to the challenge by sincerely addressing the seemingly impracticable water problem in Enugu so as to avert this looming danger to the lives of the residents of Enugu, the Coal City.
Dr. Dons Eze.