Prior to the first coming of Governor Kayode Fayemi, statistics about water situation in Ekiti 2010 was a disturbing one. Save for some few towns in Ekiti North Senatorial District, many parts of Ekiti did not have access to pipe-borne water but relied on streams and well water.
Even the part of Ekiti North that hosts Ero Dam and which could be said to have enjoyed some water supply did so irregularly; as power supply was typically epileptic from the national grid, while the power generating set which could have provided an alternative was dead. So, supply was predicated on occasional power supply from the grid which was never reliable, and even when supplied, could only run for a couple of hours which were not sufficient to pump water through tens of kilometres of water pipes. In other to solve this problem, the administration before his, resorted to borehole drilling which was not only environmentally unfriendly but also unsustainable.
So, when Kayode Fayemi assumed office in 2010, one of the major priorities of the government was to fix the dams and other water infrastructures in the state to beat back the unflattering notoriety of the state as one of the most prone to water-borne diseases and open defecation. The paradox of the water situation in Ekiti is the fact that Ekiti is one of the states with wide spread water infrastructures, some of which are over sixty years old. Some of the water infrastructures include: Efon Alaaye Water Work which was constructed in 1953; Okemesi water scheme which was built in 1960; Ureje Dam, Ado which was built in 1961; Itapaji Dam which was commissioned in 1975; Ikere Water Works which was built in 1984; Ero Dam was commissioned by the then General Mohammadu Buhari in 1985; Ido-Ile Water Treatment Plan was built in 1986; Egbe Dam came on board in 1989 while Igbara-Odo Water Plant was completed in 1999. In spite of these impressive presence of water infrastructure in Ekiti, it was sad almost all of them were comatose as at 2010. The common denominator to all these legacy infrastructures was that they were in a state of disrepair, ruination, disuse and abandonment.
To put an end to this regrettable state of things, the administration of Dr Fayemi embarked on aggressive rehabilitation and restoration of the water works. Fayemi procured new power generating sets for Ero Dam which is the biggest dam with installed capacity that could take care of nine of the sixteen local government areas in the state. He undertook the Mary-Hill Water Plant reconstruction, he rehabilitated the dead Ido-Ile Water Works, he did total overhaul of Efon Mini-Dam and Water Treatment Plant, carried out total overhaul of Oke-Imesi Water Treatment Plant and Igbara-Odo Water Treatment Plant. With these rehabilitation, water supply moved from about ten-percent coverage to about 46 percent coverage before the end of the tour of duty of JKF1.
Commendable as this was, the administration of Dr Fayemi then, remain unsatisfied with the below average water coverage in Ekiti as he was irrevocably committed to the realisation of a near hundred-percent coverage. This noble idea was however threatened by finance as the entire budget of Ekiti state for two years if entirely focused on water projects, could hardly fix the humongous fund needed to get water to all homes in Ekiti. As the governor would always say: “we have no excuse but to find a solution”, he therefore remained undaunted.
To confront this ambitious dream, Dr Kayode Fayemi leveraged on his wide network within the development finance community to practically highjack the World Bank proposed National Urban Water Sector Reform Project (NUWSRP) for Ondo state in 2012. He made a more robust, persuasive and practicable presentation which earned Ekiti state a slot as one of the three states selected for the third phase of the project in Nigeria. The other states are Bauchi and Rivers. Lagos was the first to benefit from the project with the successful completion of Ajiyan Water project during the tenure of Mr Babatunde Fashola; while Kano was the second to benefit from the project in the second phase.
Among other conditions to fulfil in order to win the project sponsorship was the promulgation of a water law aimed at ensuring that the failure of the past was not repeated after the facility must have been put in place. Indeed, the primary objectives of the programme are to increase access to improved water supply in the selected places, to endure financial viability and to increase the capacity of the water corporation in sustainable water resource management and operation. The other condition is that the state must pay a specific counterpart fund and manage the community relations aspect of project execution strategy.
For Ekiti to get this support funding, the administration of JKF1, through the House of Assembly passed the Ekiti Water Law of 2013 which followed the policy document called “Water Supply and Sanitation Implementation Guidelines” that had been approved a year before. In addition, an inter-agency body on water and sanitation was also set up while the commitment to counterpart matching grant was never defaulted. The project commenced effectively in 2014/2105 and was to end in 2020. Unfortunately, the succeeding regime frustrated the development partners as he was solely interested in having control on supplies and contract which World Bank refuse to concede to him. He stalemated the work and ensured nothing happened during the interregnum until the return of JKF2.
As soon as he was sworn-in, one of the first priority actions of the governor was to quickly re-engage the World Bank and to proceed from the progress already begun. The counterpart fund was fully paid and all community issues resolved. The government is paying all the persons who will have some discomfort in form of disruptions to daily routine in what is called: “disturbance allowance” while the contractors are under instruction to ensure all facilities touched during digging and pipe installation are indemnified.
The contract component includes total rehabilitation of Ureje and Ero Dam and changing of main and lift pump along the line, while extension pipe is laid from Ifaki to Ado-Ekiti where about 20 communities are to be connected to join the13 communities already enjoying water through Mary-Hill water treatment plant. The pipe artery covering about 251 kilometres of network lift and service pipes reticulation is nearing completion. For the urban segment of the project in Ado-Ekiti, the following communities are the beneficiaries: Peace Avenue, Olorunda, Olorunsogo, Doctors Quarters, Surulere I &II and Ilamoji along New Iyin Road. Others are: Irewumi at opposite Bawa Estate, Ikigbinsin, Shelter View Area, NASFAT Campgrounds along Afao Road, Balemo/Onala, Better-Life, Ifelere/Ifedore and State Housing areas. Of course, the lift pipe will drop down in communities along the network from Ifaki-Ekiti to Ado-Ekiti.
While Ureje and Ero Dam revolution is going on aggressively, Ekiti government, in conjunction with the European Union for the rehabilitation and total turn-around of Egbe Dam. The project has also reached an advanced state. It would be recalled that Egbe Dam was jointly owned by Ondo and Ekiti and this had negatively affected the management of the Dam. The latest arrangement is that Ondo has graciously conceded complete ownership to Ekiti with a commercial term agreement to buy water from the Dam on an agreed term of metering when the facility is fully ready, shortly. By the time the Dam is ready, most of the local government areas in Ekiti South District will have access to pipe-borne water supply. Similarly, even though the hydro dam in Ise-Ekiti is owned by the federal government and dedicated mainly to hydropower generation and irrigation farming, Ekti state government is already in talks with the Federal ministry of Water Resources on the possibility of piping the water for household use, especially since the hydro component is yet to commence. With this, Ekiti will experience unprecedented era of water saturation in homes as against the usual water scarcity.
A major feature of the reform is sustainability on commercial basis.
Presently, areas enjoying water supply in Ado-Ekiti pay a flat rate of N500 (five hundred naira a month), however, under the new arrangement, every house will be metered and an affordable tariff will be charged per cubic meter of water consumed. This is to ensure cost recovery and sustenance of the facilities. By the year 2020, the history of portable water supply in Ekiti will have entered a new era of water, water, water everywhere courtesy Dr Fayemi.
Dr. Sunday A. Aniyi is a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Ekiti State on Special Projects.