By IKE UCHECHUKWU
CALABAR—THOUSANDS of inhabitants of Calabar Metropolis, Cross River State are at loggerheads with the Cross River State Water Board Limited, CRSWBL, over insufficiency and quality of water the government agency distributes to the people. Residents, especially those at Mount Zion, Yello Duke, Ekondo, Chamley, Barracks, section of State Housing areas complain that they could neither drink nor cook with the water from CRSWBL.
We rather cook with sachet water
Mr. Evaristus Obeten, who lives at Inyang Edem in Calabar South, said: “We are still managing the little that flows but my brother, I must be sincere with you, I buy water from the Aboki people who supply us water from private boreholes. Sometimes, we resort to sachet water to cook because with the colour and smell of the water distributed by the agency, you will not dare to use it for anything except washing.”
A resident of Yellow Duke lane, Mrs. Florence Iyadim, asserted that taps stopped flowing in the area nearly a month ago, adding: “To my amazement, they still sent us a bill which we have refused to pay. How can we pay for what we did not use, all these utility providers behave the same and it is so annoying and painful but we thank God for private borehole operators who we now depend on for our daily water supplies.”
The people became infuriated when the company introduced a new billing system with new meters sold at N25, 000, a disparity of N18, 000 from the initial N2, 000 registration fees paid during the Liyel Imoke-led administration.
Our water is not dangerous
Head, Corporate Services and Administration, Tech Vibes Nigeria Limited, the company that took over management of CRSWBL, August, last year, from Ortech Nigeria Limited, Mr. Benedict Tawo, said: “The water we distribute is 100 percent safe for consumption, so there is no need for the people in the metropolis to panic. “Sometimes, when we carry out maintenance work, it takes up to 24 hours for some of those chemicals to dry up and the line is turned back on, so these things take time and also cause delay in distribution.”
Tawo also stated: “We are building from scratch, we want standard. Before now infrastructure was not considered, we are working round the clock to make sure the city has regular water supply despite the overwhelming challenges which will soon be a thing of the past.”
Problem of illegal connection, vandalism
He said out of the 41,000 customers on their database, only 4,000 consumers pay water bills regularly, adding, “Over 90 per cent of our people who use our water are by illegal connections, which no one can even report or know about. “We have series of leakages sometimes caused by road users and vandalism, though illegal connections is also part of what is mitigating against our operations and efforts ,but we will push for laws to prosecute such offenders,” he said.
Mr Tawo explained: “This place used to be powered by three (3) 1000KVA generators but as you can see for yourself, only one is functioning which is a huge challenge for us. Although we are working to make sure we have more than one, we are also making efforts to connect to NIPP so that we can have constant electricity to be able to work effectively and efficiently, one hour interruption of electricity can lead to a one week shortage in water supply.
Explaining that no service giver would deliberately produce a bad product or supply its customers sub standard products, he said the company was planning turnaround maintenance, pleading with the people to pay for the services rendered to them. “On the Atimbo axis, we have lost about, 15,000 customers in that area alone due to damages done during the road construction in the area but we have already started re-connection work to ensure the people have water after two years,” he revealed.
Head of Operations, Tech Vibes, Mr. Okonji Paul explained: “Every two /three hours, there is quality control checks from the reservoir, cascading, flash mixer, clarifier, filters and finished water. We are quality control conscious, the transition period was well handled and the quality of our water remains of a high standard, some of the complaints may arise from burst pipes because there is no way to take back what has gone into such pipes so debris can also enter from such areas.