Kayode Fayemi, the Governor of Ekiti State, on Thursday, declared an emergency in the water sector to ensure water supply to all nooks and crannies of the state.
He made the declaration in Ikun Ekiti, Moba Local Government Area of the state where he had gone to kick-start the turnaround water rehabilitation project at Ero Dam to supply water to many major towns in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor consequently promised to take legal and institutional steps to also make the state open defecation free before 2030.
He said it was in a bid to reduce the level of water borne diseases in Ekiti and make the commodity available to residents that he declared the emergency in water sector.
According to him, the people must be saved from preventable Illnesses through provision of potable water.
He clarified that the emergency was in line with the step taken by the president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Buhari had initiated similar policy under a programme called Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in partnership with the World Bank.
NAN reports that the project, which will gulp $55 million, was awarded to Sagittarius Henan Engineering and is to be completed within 18 months.
The governor said the WASH programme of the federal government and World Bank was initiated to reduce amount being paid by Nigerians on hospital bills after contacting all forms of diseases from unhygienic water sources.
Mr Fayemi said statistics had shown that water supply to urban cities and rural areas in the country had reduced by 15 and four per cent respectively, in spite of geometric increase in the population.
The governor added that the state had already paid N700 million counterpart fund to complete the project that was approved by the World Bank in 2014.
“It was because of the safety of the citizens that the Federal Government declared emergency in WASH. So, Ekiti has keyed into the programme with this project.
“Ekiti was ranked second in Nigeria as a state that practised open defecation. We shall put up institutional and legal frameworks to ensure Ekiti is open defecation free before 2030.
“Part of what accounted for this high practice was because of low water supply to our homes.
“We are making our traditional rulers as champions that would canvass for open defecation-free and if we are going to stop our palaces from digging boreholes here and there, we as government should provide water to our people.
“We have done our feasibility studies. 85 per cent of our water in Ekiti shall be provided by Ero and Egbe dams if they operate at optimal capacity,” he said.
The governor assured that affordable tariff would be charged by government and that such would be metred to prevent extortion.
The permanent secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities, Olumide Ajayi, said rehabilitation on Egbe dam located in Gbonyin Local Government was also being co-financed by European Union and Ekiti State.
Mr Ajayi said the two projects would supply water to over 66 towns across nine local government areas in the state.
He urged the beneficiaries to be ready to pay affordable tariffs and maintain the facilities when completed.
The general manager, Ekiti State Water Corporation, Olabisi Agbeyo, revealed that this was the first time major rehabilitation would be carried out on Ero dam in 33 years.
“As we speak, Ekiti is not owing a kobo as counterpart payment. We have paid up and this shows how committed the state was in water supply,” Mr Agbeyo said.