Cross Rivers water board distressed, offices shut over debt, water supply stopped

Public water supply in Cross River State has remained non-functional since over four to six months, even as the people of the State have not seen water flowing from their taps for several months.

After going round the State capital on Monday and observed that most houses survive in buying of water for drinking, cooing and washing. Investigations revealed that the Ministry of water resources and water board have no single chemicals to treat water.

Besides treating water, it was gathered that the board owes Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) several millions of naira. To worsen the situation, the corporate headquarters of the board was sealed on Monday for non payment of revenue.

Sadly, some residents of Calabar have expressed worry over the lack of pipe-borne water in the city in recent months, saying that they have resorted to boreholes as an alternative. The residents expressed their concern over the situation in separate interviews with our correspondent in the Cross River capital, saying that they were more worried about the health implications of drinking water from boreholes now dug indiscriminately in all the nooks and crannies of the city.

They called on the Cross River Water Board Limited to restore the supply of pipe-borne water in the city without delay. Mrs Atim Effiong Okon who runs a restaurant in the city, said the prolonged water scarcity in Calabar was worrisome, describing it as strange.

She said: “For over five years now, Calabar has not witnessed water scarcity for such a long period and it appears nothing is being done to about it. Now I had to employ someone to fetch water for me from boreholes to be able to run my business.” Archibong Udo, a retired civil servant residing in parliamentary area of the city, said that taps in the area had been dry for over two months now.

“It is well over two months that we had pipe-borne water last and it is a terrible situation. We have not experienced this kind of situation in Calabar for quite a long time now,” he said.

Mr. Udoh said most of the residents had now been compelled to fetch water from private boreholes but expressed fears over the safety of water from such a source.

According to Edem Ekpenyong, sinking of private boreholes has become the order of the day in Calabar. “Calabar has actually changed. Some people now sink boreholes anyhow in their premises. Everywhere you turn to now you see people carrying jerry cans in search of water. This is not the Calabar that we were used to,” he said.

When contacted, Mr Emmanuel Orok, the Director in charge of Public Relations in the state water board said that, “We are not allow to talk like that, until we get permission from the Managing Director, if you have issues to discuss, you can see him but not for now or today, it is not possible.”

“At the moment, we have issues to resolve with Inland Revenue Service, already our offices have been sealed up. You can come on Friday by 5pm, as it’s now, we are not settled, we are trying to negotiate with them because they have sealed our offices,,” he stated.

Consequently, at various health institutions, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), General Hospital and some health centres visited, an outbreak of water born diseases such as cholera, dysentery, vomiting and other water born related infections have been reported and are on the increase.

At the emergency department of the hospitals, our correspondent observed that all the available spaces and beds are occupied by victims of water-borne diseases. Medical Doctors, Nurses and health officials on duties were seen battling to bring back lives to some of the babies that almost gave off the ghosts.

The medical personnel put the problem on absence of portable water supply as public, “The people are now buying untreated water from boleholes operators as well as fetching water from stagnant water ponds for consumption and domestic usage.

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