Saturday, 3 February 2018

Cross River State Water Board to be sold out?

3 February 2018 

Following the incessant lack of water supply within the Calabar metropolis, one could really tell that Cross River State Government is about to sell out its prestigious company, the Cross River State Water Board Limited (CRSWBL). 

Sources has it that, lack of management could lead to the Government selling out the state's legacy to a private firm in the nearest future. 

The CRSWBL was rated one of the best in Nigeria and West Africa by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the standard and the quality of water produced over time. But today, even streets sachet water is mostly preferable. 

According to CalabarReporters, Few days ago at the Cross River State House of Assembly, Member representing Yakurr II State Constituency and the Chairman Committee on Finance and Appropriation, Honourable Eteng William Jones slammed the Managing Director of CRSWBL, Dr. Godwin Igile over the poor water supply within the state. 

This came in during the Budgetary defence by Ministries, Developments and Agencies (MDAs). Hon. Eteng and other House Members expressed their displeasure at the MD for their poor services to the people in the State, which the Committee described as shameful.

During the presentation of the 2017 Budget performance, Dr. Igile, told the Committee that for the past six (6) months water supply has been constant across the streets and major towns in the State.

The presentation did not only generated tensions but a lot of reactions from the members of the Committee, despite the Ministry of Water Resources presenting a budget proposal of 80 billion Naira for the 2018 fiscal year by the Commissioner, Ntufam Gabriel Odu Oji.

Controversies have been trailing the company for over time now, following lack of payment and maltreatment of staff; a cameo where the staff had to protest before the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade. 

If you recalled, on the 12th of October, 2017, a stakeholders meeting was held at the Transcorp Hotels, Calabar in an agreement of the upward review of water bill in the state. The result of the meeting was to increase the rate from N150 to N250 per cubic metre (1,000Litres) of water at the consumer's rate. 

Upon that, the water supply rate has reduced drastically following poor quality water supply within the Calabar metropolis. Consumers had to forget about the Water Board, naming the company, "dead and rotten". 

Meanwhile, findings reveals that, CRSWBL receives money from the World Bank on a regular basis in millions of dollars to run the company. Remember that, the CRSWBL is a World Bank assisted programme. 

Issues keep meddling the bowl as whether the Cross River State Government has entered into an allegiance to sell the company. This mix reactions came up when the MD, Dr. Igile asked the general public for metre and pipelines ownership during his presentation of "Strategy for Improved Urban Water Supply and Sanitation in Calabar" at the same stakeholders meeting.

Igile said, "There is need for public ownership and protection of water facilities such as meters, pipelines, so to discourage the current practice of damage to water pipelines and meter by-pass, illegal water connection and vandalism". He further emphasised on the role of partnership with various stakeholders groups and what they will bring, while appealing to customers to pay their water bills promptly and regularly.

Water Board had also partnered with the Mediatrix Development Foundation, MDF, an initiative of the wife of the Governor, Dr. Linda Ayade to provide constant and regular water supplies to schools within the Calabar metropolis. But, since last year, 2017 till date, no single water supply to a school in the city. 

Questions begging for answers has filled the shelves already and more and more are still coming on the downfall of Water Board. 

All efforts to reach the Managing Director of the Cross River State Water Board Limited, Dr. Godwin Igile, concerning the matter proves abortive as many are still sensing the company being giving out in no time.

*This editorial first appeared in ©CalabarReporters

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