12 July 2006

Nigeria: Govt Gives Reasons for Water Shortage

Port Harcourt — Rivers State government has blamed lack of proper collaboration in water provision policies for the numerous abandoned water projects in the state.

Speaking while declaring open Conference of the National Technical Committee on Water Resources in Port Harcourt, Commissioner of Information, Honourable Lolo Ibieneye, called on stakeholders to come together and address the issue.

He warned that unless the issue was properly put in perspective, Nigeria may find it difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

Ibieneye said a situation where the roles of Ministries of Environment and Water Resources were clashing did not augur well for the water sector, and expressed hope that the summit would address it to avoid duplication of roles.

He called for conclusion of the planned hydrological and hydro-geological mapping of the country as a way of having adequate data with which to proceed in solving water problems.

He decried a situation whereby the Niger Delta had both underground and surface water but without enough to drink, due to the high level of pollution which oil prospecting engenders on the environment.

Ibieneye blamed population and industrial explosionfor the water supply problems being experienced, adding that most of the water pipes have been dug out or buried so deep, that they are difficult to get at.

"Also of great concern is the uncontrollable explosion of population in Rivers State being the centre of oil and Gas business.

"This has caused difficulties in the provision and management of water supply and sanitation. Infrastructural development is expanding at such a fast rate that some of the distribution lines have been destroyed, cut-off or are left beneath roads and houses where they are difficult to reach," he said.

He urged the committee to consider the peculiarities of each state, adding that the state did not need big dams to generate bulk water for irrigation and water supply purposes.

He raised an alarm over the rapid spread of "Nypa Palm," which he saidwas destroying aquatic lives, adding that if nothing was done soon, the palm which started in Akwa Ibom area and spreading towards Lagos may grow out of hand.

In her welcome address, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Ebele Okeke, called on all technocrats and professionals to work together to ensure that the problems were permanently solved.

She also stressed the need for cooperation and hard work among operators in the sector, and expressed hope that the nation would soon get out of its water predicaments.

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