Calabar Community Lacks Potable Water After Cross River Basin Development Authority Mismanaged Borehole Rehabilitation

In Breaking News, Health, Investigation

Cross River Basin Development Authority, CRBDA, agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2021 contracted Fuuz Nigeria Limited to rehabilitate a solar-powered borehole, and town hall at Ikot Effanga Mkpa in Calabar Municipality for N7.3 million. The contract, CrossRiverWatch Sylvia Akpan reveals, was awarded without budgetary provision which violates section 5, sub 4.2b of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The contractor, Fuuz Nigeria Limited, is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission to provide animal husbandry services. But its status is currently inactive, suggesting it has not been filing its tax returns.

When the reporter visited the community, it was noted that the town hall was painted, its floor tiled, and doors and fans were also fixed while the borehole was left untouched. Weeds and reptiles have taken over the borehole facility.

Speaking to CrossRiverWatch, the community members revealed that they had made several efforts, including writing to the Cross River Basin Development Authority for intervention, but only got promises that were never kept.

The community’s youth secretary, Ben Otu Ekong, said the borehole had been constructed in the community about three years ago but it never functioned. 

Confirming that no rehabilitation was carried out on the borehole in 2021 or at any recent time, Ekong said: “they gave us two water projects: one in Ikot Effanga Mkpa town hall and the other at Lemna axis. The one situated at Ikot Effanga Mkpa town hall is not flowing. We have written to them to remind them to complete the work for us.”

We Have Suffered A Lot From Lack Of Potable Water Supply –  Village Head

About 55 million Nigerians still do not have access to clean water supply services while  110 million Nigerians lack decent toilets and over 47 million practice open defecation, according to the 2018 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping report.

According to UNICEF, poor water supply and sanitation costs the Nigerian economy about 1.3 percent of GDP annually, which is about NGN1.9 trillion. These losses are reflected in lost productivity due to water and sanitation related diseases, time spent in accessing water and sanitation services, avoidable expenses by government and households to address the diseases, and the lost human capacity in malnutrition and mortality.

“We have suffered a lot from lack of potable water supply here at Ikot Effanga Mkpa,” Obonganwan Atim Ekpenyong Effanga Mkpa told CrossRiverWatch. “The project is in shambles,” she said, 

I am soliciting government intervention,” she continued. “The town hall has not been renovated. The only thing that was done was tiling and painting.”

Elder Umo John, the community youth association vice president said the project was abandoned.

“I may call it an abandoned project because we have been writing to Basin Authority so that they can come and rehabilitate it for us so that we can start enjoying the benefits of hosting them. Since they came into existence in Ikot Effanga Mkpa, I may say this is their first project,” John said.

“The water project has never functioned right from day one. In fact, not quite long we wrote to them. This year, we have repeatedly visited the Basin’s office more than two or three times, between January and March.”

Ben Otu Ekong, Secretary of the youth association said: “We have written to them to remind them to complete the work for us. As for the town hall, the only renovation done is the tiling, fixing of doors, fans, and painting. The community has written to them twice before the burial of the former village head.”

Ikot Effanga Mkpa Town Hall

Another resident Effiom Offiong said it had never functioned. “I’m not sure if anybody has benefited from fetching water from there because I have never witnessed that,” he said.  “People find water the way they have been finding it. In the past five, six to seven years, I have lived here, we have been surviving by our individual boreholes.”

Other residents Emmanuel Ededem Effanga and Idongesit Tom called on the Cross River Basin Development Authority to come to their rescue.

Emmanuel said, “they should try and help the community because we are lacking water here.” Tom continued, “ever since I moved in here, that water has never worked for years now. We don’t know why the water is not working.”

CSO Faults The Contract, Calls For Investigation

The Country Director of Citizens Solution Network, Comrade Richard Inoyo called for an investigation into the contract award process to ensure the job is done as contracted.

“The fact that a contract has been awarded and money released yet the contractor refused to do the part of the borehole, I think calls for investigation,” Inoyo said. “This calls for inquiry into the very nature of the agreement with the Cross River Basin Development Authority and the contractor.”

Inoyo pointed out the need for the public to know why the project was not implemented as specified. 

“The public needs to know what is going on,” Inoyo said. “If the money has not been given to them for the borehole, it should be released, and if money has been given to them and they refuse to execute the development of the borehole they should be asked to go back to the site and ensure that the borehole is completed.”

The Managing Director of the Cross River Basin Development Authority, Bassey Nkposong and the contractor did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.

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