Francis Sardauna chronicles the efforts of Governor Aminu Bello Masari in revitalising the hitherto abandoned 47-year-old Ajiwa water works in order to curb perennial water scarcity in Katsina State
For all the rural and urban tranformation projects ongoing in Katsina State which can visibly acknowledged and verified by both staunch members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, nitpickers and rumour peddlers, the holistic modernisation and reconstruction of water supply system in the state evidently occupies a prime place in the restoration agenda of Governor Aminu Bello Masari-led administration.
The placement of water supply as the basic necessity of life and most secured channel of ensuring healthy living amongst urban and rural dwellers as well as basis for a sound economic and social development of any city, community or rural settlement is incontrovertible.
For this reason and perhaps more, Masari had become a discerning reference for where a workable, sustainable and pragmatic approach is being made to tackle perennial water scarcity and water-borne diseases from a realistic and multidemensional point of view as against what was obtainable in the past.
Masari, on assumption of office in 2015, inaugurated a restoration agenda committee on the water sector and considered it as a basic resource to both human, domestic and industrial activities despite its negligence by successful regimes and administrations in the state.
Beside, the capacity of water pumping machines designed in the early 80s and installed by the previous regimes and administrations to supply water to residents of the state were grossly inadequate and below the water supply needs of the growing population of over 8.7 million people in the state. The outdated and poorly managed machines could no longer be maintained and their servicing cost lines became unsustainable.
Sadly, numerous components of integral water supply system, vital and strategic facilities at different booster stations in the state were bedevilled with absolute dysfunction due to 47 years of neglect and lack of government resuscitation plans or initiatives. Even the pipelines, concrete reservoirs and steel that were sited at various locations within Katsina, the state capital, became rusted and clogged with huge heaps of refuse by residents.
Similarly, the Kofar Kaura booster station's facilities were also left in bad condition by the previous administration. The booster station was seen by many as a thick hideouts bushes, "squalid cesspool of contamination", rather than a compliment to water supply, safety and sanitation while pumping machines and the generator powering the booster station have all been completely broken and left at the mercy of God.
The level of dilapidation which pervaded the whole water supply system in the state that led to acute shortage of the precious susbtance across the nooks and crannies of the state before the coming of Masari, whom many described as the earthly messiah, was extensive that only a complete and radical overhaul of the system could restore capacities for adequate sustainable water supply for the citizenry.
Infact, the inability of the past governments to provide safe, adequate and regular water for diversified domestic and industrial use for the first-ever rising population of the state apparently led to the outbreak of water-borne diseases in some communities and villages, hike in cost of commercial water by vendors even in Katsina, the state capital.
Thus, in his elementary drive to boost water supply across the 34 local government areas and 361 political wards in the state, the "people's governor", in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), has constructed over 5,000 hand-pumping boreholes, 1,000 solar motorised and over 500 latrines in communities, primary schools, healthcare facilities and market places across cities and rural areas of the state.
The administration also purchased and installed three brand new KSB (Germany) Axially-Split High Lift Pump, nine Butterfly Valves and other accessories to replace the extent broken-down obsolete machines with current technology options, which has improved and adequate pumping capacity. These machines are equally capable and have the durability of supplying the required and substantial quantity of water on regular and stable basis in the state.
Additionally, three Modern ABB Soft Starter Control Panels and Local Control were successfully replaced at the Ajiwa Water Works Pumping Station. Also, a dual Turbo Turbines diesel powered generators with a combined power supply of 4.2mw that were purchased by the state government from Messrs Rolls-Royce Power of Germany have been powered, tested and integrated into the main control panel to boost water supply and avert its scarcity.
These brand new and highly-powered generators are meant to power the three Highlift Vertical Pumps at the pump house, dosing and auxiliary pumps, electrify the entire office complex, and staff housing estate with a view to curbing the decade lingering power shortages hidering stable water supply in the state.
The administration also procured and installed electro-mechanical equipment for the new pump house at the Ajiwa Water Works, which includes three High Lift Horizontal KSB pumps configured along with three 500Kw ABB, five Soft Starter Panels, three ABB 1000kva Transformers, Overheads and five Tonnes Crane with various sizes of Non-return and Butterfly Valves.
In a bid to enhance stable water supply in the state and inflow of the commodity from Zobe Dam, the Masari-led government also bought one 800KVA brand new basic Perkins Electric Generating, installed and commissioned at the Kofar Kaura Booster Station within Katsina metropolis. Six horizontal Highlift Pumps with various technical specifications have been manufactured, shipped, supplied and are now available for installation. While six control panels and valves of different sizes are currently being shipped and would be due "for installation and commissioning by August, 2021".
Interestingly, this Ajiwa water treatment plant, after the ongoing revitalisation and installation of equipment, will supply atleast 50 million litres of potable water daily to residents in the state as part of efforts to end perennial water scarcity facing most communities in the state, including Katsina, the state capital. Masari has also assured that his administration would not relent until the water shortage afflicting the state is stemmed.
Meanwhile, Governor Masari while inspecting the onging rehabilitation and expansion of Ajiwa water works and other notable water projects awarded by his administration, directed that after the complete replacement of the pumps at the Ajiwa water works, all the scribe materials should be sold off in order to generate more revenue to the state government.
He added that the rehabilitation of Ajiwa water treatment plant and the construction of distribution networks for Zobe Dam will supply no fewer than 100 million litres of water to the state capital and its environs daily. He noted that ongoing rehabilitation at Ajiwa Water Works is a holistic one that includes expansion of the trenches of the dam and comprehensive works on the water treatment plant and the power supply system of the facility.
According to him, an additional 20 million gallons or 450 million liters of water, is expected to be pumped from Ajiwa and Zobe dams for public consumption. He added that residents would heave a sigh of relief, as potable water would become constantly available.
He said: "First of all we started with the dam, we have completely rehabilitated it while all the pumps at the chemicals room have been changed, the filter media has been changed and what is now left is works on the pump house which we have done 90 per cent.
"International trade and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled the project for the past couple of months but the project is still on course. By the time all the pumps are installed and all the civil, mechanical and electrical aspects of the project are completed, the Ajiwa water works will be able to produce its initial design capacity of 50 million litres of water per day which will be taken to Katsina for distribution".
The contractor handling the project, Alhaji Salisu Mamman while briefing the governor at the premises of the facility explained that the dilapidation and disuse which pervaded the whole water supply system over the pre-Masari government was so thorough and extensive that only a complete and radical overhaul of the system could restore capacities for any appreciable and adequate water provision for the citizens of the state.
He said the technology and capacities of the old system designed for the early 70s and 80s were grossly inadequate and below the water supply needs of the rapidly growing population of the state, hence the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of the Ajiwa water works, assuring that the project would be completed before the end of this year.
Therefore, the unflinching efforts of the present administration in the water sector has drastically alleviated the spate of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentry, typhoid and polio which have hitherto bedeviled citizens due to negligence by successful administrations in the state.