From Williams Orji
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Engr. George Ugwu, says the country’s water problem has continued to linger despite billions spent because government still considers water as a social commodity.
Engr. Ugwu stated this in a press statement he personally signed and sent to media houses, yesterday.
While examining the various challenges confronting Nigeria’s water sector and how the government can salvage the situation through the press statement, the PDP chieftain said with the paucity of funds and dwindling economy, made it impossible for government afford to keep shouldering the costs of running water agencies, adding that, such informed his call for the development of a new tariff plan that stipulates how consumers can pay for the water they use.
“In the water sector, the federal government has taken billions of dollars of loan to improve the sector, but after each intervention, they still find out that they still can’t provide water to the people. But because the government has always treated water as a social commodity; they have always promised people that water would be (provided for) free, but somewhere along the line, they would discover that they don’t have all it takes to be able to provide this water to the people,” Ugwu said.
According to him, both federal and state governments should consider adoption of a water metering and billing softwares for water agencies tasked with water generation and distribution, this, he added, will allow water users to recharge their meters from the comfort of their homes and work places for easy and uninterrupted water supply.
He contended that it is only when the water agencies are able to collect the water bills from the users that the sector can be sustainable rather than depending on the government for funding.
Engr. Ugwu who is the founder of Maston-George Limited and GreenStratos said it was about time the government mustered the political will to ask Nigerians to pay so that they will have access to good, clean water.
“The challenge is ignorance; when a state does not understand the quantum of problem they have in the sector because the consumers, who are the voting masses, have always been told that water is a social commodity. So, they are not willing to pay. Government must tell the people that it is no longer a social commodity, but it is socio-economic. There has to be a cost to have clean water,” he asserted.
While analysing how the water billing software works, Engr. Ugwu said: “What the billing software does now is to give water agencies a modern tool to be able to collect their money. What we are doing now is to develop software that will enable the (water) agencies (to) first of all, capture their consumers properly, input their appropriate tariff, depending on the category of the consumer, then, and be able to send out bills electronically to their consumers. The consumers will now have the choice of going to the office to pay or sit in the comfort of their bedrooms and recharge their water meters just like they do with electricity prepaid meters. By so doing, they would have removed a lot of human intervention and by extension, corruption. And if they are able to collect their bills, then, you can begin to talk about sustainability in the water sector,” he added.