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2 Ugwuoba Street, off Nza Street, Independence Layout, Enugu.

Full Text: Gov Mbah’s Speech at the Commissioning of the Ultra-modern 24/7 Water Scheme at 9th Mile Corner, Enugu


It is said that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step. Ndi Enugu, as we gather today to commission this ultra-modern water scheme, allow me to felicitate you all as we make yet another step on this journey to realizing our vision for the state, a vision, which will see Enugu become ‘one of the top 3 states in Nigeria in terms of Gross Domestic Product, and achieve a zero percent rate in the poverty headcount index’.

I cannot help but think back to our campaigns before the elections, where it all started. Given our vision and mission for the state, it became evident to us very quickly that the challenge of water supply is fundamental to the achievement of our objective to take our GDP in the state from the current position of $4.4 billion to $30 billion within the next 4-8 years. It was clear to us that the status of water supply at the time was deplorable. At that time, there had been no reliable water supply in most parts of Enugu State for almost 20 years. This led to the situation we are dealing with now, where families have to queue endlessly to fetch water from tanker trucks who supply water in a very unreliable and epileptic fashion. Businesses on the other hand were forced to invest in extensive water infrastructure from tankage to additional reticulation and for large scale users like hotels, hospitals, etc. many of them actually had to acquire tanker trucks of their own to afford themselves some reliability of supply.
One need not be a rocket scientist to discern that few investors will be attracted to the state under such dire circumstances, neither can existing businesses expand to generate additional jobs and economic growth. If anything, these conditions are suffocating businesses and households and leading to unnecessary suffering across the state.

Faced with this fundamental issue, and considering the suffering of Ndi Enugu, it was only natural that we identified the provision of water as one of our first targets in the drive to execute our mandate and social contract with citizens of Enugu. We also chose to give our selves a target of resolving this challenge in 180 days – not for the purpose of chest-thumping but rather because first, the issue is urgent. We did not want Ndi Enugu to suffer unduly for even one minute longer than avoidable, and, second, we saw this as an opportunity to galvanize Ndi Enugu for the tough tasks ahead and whip our administration into gear as quickly as possible. It was this same thinking that made President Kennedy of the USA say the following on the eve of the expedition to the Moon, ‘But why, some say, the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the Moon. We choose to go to the Moon… We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.’

When we communicated this promise, it triggered disbelief in most quarters and that is perhaps understandable. After all, Ndi Enugu have seen before now countless successive but unsuccessful attempts to address this problem.
Happily for us all, here we are 180 days from that promise, commissioning this new ultra-modern water scheme with a capacity to deliver to businesses and families in Enugu 70 million litres of potable water daily and this is but the first phase. In a few weeks, we will also be commissioning new pumps in Oji water scheme to enable us to deliver another 50 million litres of water everyday. This will give us a total daily delivery of 120 million litres in Enugu, about twice the daily demand of Enugu urban.

We are currently supplying water at appreciable pressures to Enugu municipality, and I can state here and now that pipe-borne water is here to stay. Now, the businesses in Enugu can just connect to public water, and pay monthly water rates like is the practice in other advanced environments. Those of them who have invested in water tankers can put them up for sale and free up capital for other uses. For example, we at the Government House are in the process of decommissioning our tankers to various people for alternative uses. On the part of the families in Enugu, we can now consign to unpleasant memory the sad experiences of coming back after a hard day of work to find that we have run out of water, or the instances of listening to the excuses of the water suppliers as to why they are yet to deliver your water up to 2 days after the date initially promised. Today, families on the grid will have access to water in their homes, while those still outside the grid for the time being, can go to the water galleries nearest to them to fetch clean water.

Of course, there are instances of burst pipes around the metropolis, but this was not unexpected given the age of a number of our lines. However, these days constitute but teething problems which we will surely surmount in a matter of weeks and constant water 365 days of the year will once again be a reality in Enugu.

For our brothers and sisters who have been engaged in the business of operating water tankers for the water supply business, it will become necessary to remodel your businesses in this new era. First perhaps, but refocusing your supply runs to the areas still outside the pipeline network. Second, as our pipeline network expands in line with our plans to refocus on supply to construction sites and other consumers who are mobile in nature and cannot have permanent pipeline connections.

At this juncture, it is important to dimension what we have achieved. We have delivered enough water for Enugu metropolis, and that is indeed praiseworthy. However, it is certainly not yet time to shout ‘Uhuru’. That is because the existing water pipe network does not service a number of major residential areas which developed since the last major pipe-laying projects in Enugu. We will need to continue the effort to extend pipe-borne water to them. In addition, the towns outside Enugu also have varied degrees of water problems. Now that we can see the end of the water issues around Enugu urban, we must now refocus to address towns like Nsukka, Oji, Udi, etc. Finally, but certainly not least importantly, we still have our rural areas, where clean water availability is still not assured. We must now begin to examine and deploy creative location specific water supply solutions across all the local government areas. This will enable us to achieve the minimum levels of water sufficiency, sanitation and hygiene which will position us to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the appointed time.

I say this to let other Ndi Enugu in these affected locations know that we do not consider our job done until they too can access water in or proximate to their homes and businesses.
It is in view of this that we are not resting on our laurels. Accordingly, we have commenced the development of the following additional capacity:
* We are (like I mentioned earlier) close to commissioning additional pumps at Oji to enable us bring another 50 million litres to our water taps daily
* We are in the process of expanding the mainstream delivery channels to Enugu metropolis by installing a second pipeline to take water from Ninth Mile to the twin towers
* We have commenced the second phase of borehole construction here at Ninth mile that will deliver another 16 boreholes and additional water
* We are going to boost the power availability at the water scheme to at least 4.4MW.

This brings us to another issue that requires consideration, and this is the area of sustainability. The water supply we have today requires a steady provision of electric power. For example, the facility at Ninth Mile will ultimately require 4.4MW of power at full power. Furthermore, the entire system needs to be scrupulously maintained if our joy today is to be sustained. The men and women doing the sterling work of operating this system will need to be constantly trained and remunerated. This all translates to a substantial amount of funds. This will mean that Ndi Enugu have to take responsibility for the sustainability of this water system. Firstly, we must be willing to pay for this service. Reliable water supply is not cheap! I promise that this water will be far less expensive than what you are spending today on water tanker supply, but there is no way the water will be free. This will mean that we must be willing to pay for connection to the meters which will be installed by our homes and businesses, and pay a fair monthly rate for the water we consume. Secondly, the infrastructure that we have put in place, from this scheme here to the pipes going into our various residential areas, belong to Ndi Enugu and must be optimised. We cannot afford for them to be vandalized or stolen! Therefore, we must consider it our duty (one and all) to look after this infrastructure. We must not hesitate to accost and report anyone we see attempting to steal or vandalize these assets of ours. It goes without a saying that any person caught vandalizing or stealing any components of this system will face the wrath of the law. Finally, while the water is indeed plentiful right now, we must resist the urge to become wasteful in its use. Let us realize that we owe Ndi Enugu a duty to use it responsibly so the costs of operating the system can be manageable and result in lower monthly bills for everyone.

I would now like to close this address by putting on record the depth of gratitude we owe the hardworking and intrepid team of men and women at the Water Corporation who have made this moment of joy possible for Ndi Enugu. Let me quote Winston Churchill by saying that “Never have so many, owed so much, to so few.” Please, keep up the good work. I also wish to thank Ndi Enugu for their continued support to this administration as we have gone about meeting our promises to you.

I wish to assure you all that similar to this impressive achievement today, we shall keep every promise we have made to you either during the campaigns or since we assumed office on May 29th, 2023. We shall abide by the terms of the social contract we entered into with you.

Tomorrow is indeed here.

Thank you for listening and God bless you all.

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Comments (1)

This is commendable, Kudos to you Your Excellency. Congratulations Ndi Enugu.

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