Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
The dualisation of Gombe-Bauchi Road was meant to be make life a lot easier for the road users. Unfortuantely, it has become a source of misery and difficulty for the people of Shongo Hamma Community of Akko Local Government Area of Gombe State.
The Water Reticulation Project of the administration, which has been the only source of potable has been undermined by the new road project. The construction has disrupted supply of potable water, leaving the community with no option but to revert to the traditional way of sourcing for water, shallow wells dug on the bed of seasonal streams.
The community, located some eight kilo- meters away from the Gombe metropolis has suffered water shortage.
Like Shongo Hamma, other neighbouring communities like Tumfure Quarters are not spared. The disruption of their source of water is threatening to undermine the immense benefits the road has, when completed.
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To get water to serve their various needs, members of these communities either fetch from the well or resort to buying from the water vendors- who hardly come round because of dilapidated state of the road.
Apart from the fact that their water costs so much, its quality is suspect and has been linked to many health issues in the community.
The village head of Shongo Hamma community, Malam Maikudi Bappah said: “We enjoyed the water for two years but the supply has been cut off now.”
When asked what was responsible for the disruption of water supply, he said: “We were told it is because of the ongoing road construction. It is responsible for the unearthing of the water pipes that supply water to our community”.
The development has become so worrisome, to the extent that politicians have made it a campaign issue ahead 2019 general election.
“They are taking advantage of the plights of the people to hit hard at Governor Dankwambo and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”, said Umaru Ibrahim, a political analyst in the town.
Only recently, Gombe State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) pledged to address the neglect and pains of the affected communities once they assumed power in the state. On several occasions, they have assured the people that they would end the problem of water scarcity, not just in Shongo Hamma community and Tumfure Quarters, but in the whole of Gombe State.
General Manager, Gombe State Water Board, Isah Muhammed, however, found their antics and claims as laughable. He said the state government has done well in the provision of water supply in the state, adding that those highlighting the purported water issue in Shongo Hamma and Tumfure communities were only making promises they cannot fulfill.
“Anybody shouting or promising to do better than Governor Dankwambo in provision of potable water in Gombe State is just talking as a layman,” he stated.
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He said about N1 billion is spent annually by the administration towards the provision of water supply, but what is being realized is not up to one percent of the money spent.
“The return has made it difficult to expand the treatment plant which was built in 2006 with capacity of provide water to two hundred and sixty thousand households.
“It has also affected the plan of expansion to cater for three hundred thousand more people.
“Then nobody anticipated the Boko Haram insurgence, which has significantly increased the projected population of people in the state,” he added. Expansion of the water treatment plant has become more than necessary but the N30 billion needed for the project is not on the table.
This has forced the state government into adopting other options to tackling the problem.
Commenting on the appeal of Shongo Hamma and Tumfue communities, the water board boss said the agency was aware of their plight following the construction and dualisation of the federal highway around the area.
He recalled that the the attention of the construction company had been drawn to their plight.
“We were given assurance that the road construction is at the last stage,” Muhammad said.
He added that as soon as they were done with the construction works, the affected water pipes will be laid back, regretting that in the recent time, they tried to lay back the pipes but the company dug them out again.