The famous cosmopolitan city and the West African economic hub of Lagos, Nigeria, has been on the news in the last couple of days and for the wrong reasons again. It has been tales of woe and lamentation from hapless residents who are going through the pangs of an acute water scarcity.
Although Lagos, the former capital city of Nigeria, is an island surrounded by a huge mass of water extending to the Atlantic Ocean, water shortages have been a reoccurring phenomenon due to the growing population of the city, which is currently over 10 million.
From available statistics, Lagos presently produces about 210 million gallons of water per day from its various water plants, which is a far cry from what the people need, amounting to an estimated figure of 540 million gallons daily. The state-owned water company, which is the primary source of water supply, has left the taps dry for days running into weeks now. Residents have resorted to meeting their water needs by drinking water from boreholes, shallow wells and water vendors due to lack of treated public water supply in the city.
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The Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) has appealed to residents of the state over the water scarcity being experienced in some parts of the metropolis, adding that the scarcity was caused by a major technical fault at its Akute Intake. LSWC Managing Director Mr. Muminu Badmus is quoted in the statement, saying:
“The disruption in water supply to some parts of the metropolis in the last few days is due to a technical fault at our Akute Intake, which affected our major waterworks at Iju Intake and Adiyan. Our engineers are presently working round the clock to repair the faults. We appeal to our esteem customers to bear with the corporation as the problem is for a while.”
While water shortages also existed in the past, the ongoing water crisis seems more chronic and crippling because it is happening at a time when there is fuel scarcity in Nigeria and several communities in the city are affected.
Most of the residents have to buy petrol to pump their own water from their own private boreholes, but since petrol is equally scarce in Lagos and other parts of the country at the moment, both problems have invariably dovetailed into a crisis.
Consequently, many of the residents who do not have any other means of getting water now hunt for it all over the city and queue to fetch water just as people are queuing to buy petrol. The water vendors are selling water at an increased price to reflect the current harsh realities.
Mrs. Khadijat Mohammed, a trader in one of the communities within the city, Ketu, said:
A 20-litre keg of water, which was sold for N25 before the present shortage of water, power supply and petrol, has doubled in price. I now spend about N2,000 daily on water, that is even if I can find any water vendor to sell to me.
The situation has even degenerated to the extent that those selling water from their private wells at a hiked price due to scarcity of fuel are not even locking up the well to preserve what they have since they don’t know how long it will take the government to fix it.
Meanwhile, authorities of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) have ordered the immediate closure of the institution following students’ protests over epileptic power supply and poor water supply. The school said the closure was also due to the difficulties faced by the large number of students living off campus to attend classes as a result of the lingering fuel crisis.
A statement by the Students’ Union said: “Now is the time to act. We need water. We want judicious supply of power! Sodeinde Hall must be opened.”
In a related development, the Lagos State workers, under the auspices of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), has threatened to embark on a mass protest across the state if the government fails to resolve the situation this week.
“AUPCTRE, therefore, calls on the State Government to immediately restore water supply to nooks and crannies of Lagos State unconditionally. It will not hesitate to mobilize its members, other Civil Society Organizations and the International community to embark on a mass protest should the Lagos State Government fail to restore water supply immediately,” the group said in a statement.
In addition, fears have also been raised over a likely outbreak of an epidemic in Lagos as a result of the water scarcity.