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Water scarcity hits Benue

21 November 2013, 16:37

Makurdi - The contractor handling the Katsina-Ala and Otubi water works in Benue State has stopped pumping water to different parts of the state, leading to water scarcity, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

Investigations by NAN showed that the people of Katsina-Ala and Otukpo were the worst hit.

The investigations revealed that the contractor handling the project stopped supplying of water on grounds of contractual breaches.

NAN recalls that the state government signed a two-year contract with CGC Nigeria Ltd for the maintenance, operation and training of some staff of the ministry in 2012.

A reliable source in the Ministry of Water Resources told NAN that the government  had yet to commence payment on the new contract, which sparked off the strike.

The source who pleaded anonymity, said:“the contractor had not been paid a single kobo.

"It is not possible for them to operate without funds as they need funds to acquire chemicals and other necessary materials needed for water treatment.

“Apart from buying chemicals, they have to pay their staff and run the company. They are also training our engineers.''

NAN recalls that the Chairman of Otukpo Local Government Council, Dr. Innocent Onuh, had earlier blamed the outbreak of cholera epidemic in the council on 'the lack of potable water.

Onuh who spoke in a telephone interview with the NAN said that 20 infected children in the local government had been hospitalised.

“For the past one month, Otukpo residents do not have potable water; the water works is no longer pumping water as the staff had refused to work to press for the payment of salaries.

“As a result of this, cholera epidemic has hit the local government; people are dying and over 20 children are currently on admission at the General Hospital, Otukpo.

“As for the number of deaths, I cannot specifically tell you now because most of the cases are being recorded in the hinterland. But we are also collaborating with the state government and the state ministry of health to stem the disease.

“I can assure you that we are on top of the situation; people are also receiving treatment at few private hospitals in the town.

“Apart from that, we have also intensified publicity around the town, informing the people on the need for them to boil their water before drinking.

Meanwhile, a cross-section of the residents have appealed to the state government to come their aid, to prevent deaths and possible outbreak of the disease in other areas.

Joy Audu, a resident, who spoke with NAN on telephone, lamented the continued spread of the epidemic among the villages in the council.

Audu attributed the outbreak of the epidemic in the local government to the lack of potable water, adding that many people would be affected, if the situation was not controlled through the provision of potable water.

“This epidemic started in Otukpo town few weeks ago when we could not access potable water; the ailment has continued to spread to other parts of the council and the fear is that it is becoming prevalent.

“The situation in the villages is alarming; people are dying, and nobody seems to be talking about it.’’

Also speaking James Igba, a resident of Katsina-Ala, decried the continued lack of potable water supply in the area.

Igba admitted that though the water supply from the plant does not cover the entire local government, appealed to the government to come to their aid, to prevent the outbreak of diseases in the area.

Efforts to obtain comments from the Commissioner for Water Resources, Conrad Wergba, were unsuccessfulfailed.

 The General Manager, Benue State Water Board, Michael Dzungu, declined comments saying: "I no longer talk to the press.''

-  NAN


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