Enugu State Government has urged residents to be patient, saying the delay in water project was due to the ongoing road projects in the state.
Dr Felix Nnamani, the State Commissioner for Water Resources, made the call during a One-Day Sensitisation and Policy Dialogue on Enugu State Water Sector Law 2021 and Water Supply in the state on Thursday.
The theme of the workshop was “Improved Water Supply in Enugu Through Effective Implementation of Water Law”.
The event was organised by Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Impact and Development (WASHFID), a Youth led organisation on clean water in collaboration with Network of Water Rights Initiative (NEWARI) and the Enugu State Government.
Nnamani explained that the delay was also due to the ongoing maintenance on the water reticulation lines and changing of old pipes, adding that the government had cleaned up and refurbished old reservoirs.
He said there was a partnership between the state’s ministries of Water Resource and Works, saying, “As they do the roads, we dig our holes and lay our pipes and that is causing the delay.
“It will be wrong after asphalting the road and then, you will start cutting it in order to lay pipes and we don’t want that to arise considering the economic situation we found ourselves globally”.
He said the state government had produced 70 million cubic litres of water at 9th Mile and additional 50 million litres of clean water on Oji Water Scheme waiting to be distributed.
“The government has also approved construction of new lines for water distribution from 9th Mile to Enugu metropolis and the contract had since been awarded.
He said the administration of Gov. Peter Mbah was making frantic efforts to ensure regular and steady water supply in the State.
While calling for attitudinal change among the citizens, the Commissioner regretted that in spite of the effort by the government to provide water, some residents still destroyed water facilities put in place by the government.
In his goodwill message, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia said that the government was working hard to ensure that residents of the state had access to quality and clean water.
Speaking, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Enugu, Juliet Chiluwe, noted there were certain provisions in Enugu water sector law that needed to be implemented for the betterment of the residents of the state.
She said the government needed to establish water regulatory agencies to address the challenges in the water sector as well as the implementation of Small-Town Water supply projects as provided by the law.
Chiluwe, represented by Mr Ebri Ibor, WASH Specialist, UNICEF, thanked the state government for the feats recorded in the water sector reform, saying “if you look at the access to water supply, sanitation, WASH institutions across the state, you will agree with me that we have huge gap.
“Lack of access to water supply leads to open defecation especially in the rural communities and we need to fill those gaps.
“We cannot deal with water without dealing with sanitation and the safety of water is directly controlled by the safety of an environment,” she said.
She advised that government should try its best towards implementing and improving water law as well as improve access to fund in the sector by regulating the services of those operating on it.
“What we need is political will to ensure that every part of the law is implemented and government should tackle the issue of sanitation and open defecation,” Chiluwe said.
In a welcome speech, the Founder, NEWARI, Mr Temple Oraeki, explained that the workshop was aimed at exploring ways of improving water supply and sanitation services through effective implementation of the provisions of the Water sector Law 2021 by the stakeholders.
He said the network would be considering two key areas that required cogent intervention and serve as pivotal steps to ensuring that Enugu people had access to safe, clean, and sustainable water supply and sanitation services.
According to him, the two are the regulation of water supply and sanitation services in the and inclusion of Small Towns in the sector’s developmental agenda.
“This workshop is the first step towards sensitising people on the law especially now there were effort by the government geared towards rectfying the State water distribution network” he said.
Oraeki, said their input would help determine ways to overcome the barriers hindering the progress of the water sector. Amb. Amaka Nweke, the Coordinator, NEWARI, while commending the state government said the law was for Enugu people adding that they need to know about it and the roles they supposed to play.
She stated that water was a right of citizens, hence, government had obligation to provide it for them while appealing to the citizens to stop damaging thd existing water facilities for good.
Our correspondent reports that Enugu Water Sector Law was enacted by the House of Assembly on July 27, 2021, signed into law by the former governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in Aug. 3, 2021 and launched by Gov. Peter Mbah in 2023.