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Gov. Ishaku has drilled over 800 boreholes across Taraba- Buba Musa Siam,

Managing Director of the Taraba Water and Sewage Cooperation (TAWASCO) Buba Musa Siam in this interview said the Governor Ishaku Administration has extended water distribution to more houses in the Urban centers, noting that more than 800 boreholes across Taraba has been drilled across various rural communities

 Provision of drinkable water has been a major cardinal agenda of Governor Ishaku, how has your agency been able to deliver on this mandate?

First of all, we give thanks to the Almighty God for keeping us alive and giving us the ability to do what we are doing and secondly, we want to thank his excellency, the Executive Governor of Taraba State for his continuous support to the provision of water to the people. I remember clearly when he took over power in 2015, he clearly makes water supply one of his government cardinal objective and he keeps emphasizing that he wants to leave the water sector more improved and better than he met it. He keeps reiterating his sordid experience when he went to a community and he saw animals and human beings struggling for water from the same source and he said the narrative must be changed and that is why up to this moment, he keeps giving us support towards improving water supply services in the state.

Our service has always been on the increase and we have improved the production capacity from below 30% in those days up to about 70% right now and we have also extended our pipelines distribution network from about 98 before to about 268 now and there has been continuous monthly support from operational maintenances so that we use funds for the purchase of diesel, chemicals and other operational goods and these are what he has been doing consistently over the period he has been in government.

What has been the achievements of your agency in the last one year and under Governor Ishaku administration?

We have achieved so many things that I will like list them out, if you go round and even as you come into our premises here, you will see there is a new outlook, we have done the landscaping of the headquarters and he also within the last one year ensure that the bill for the water sector has been passing through us so we have a revised and updated wash law now in place. He also signed into law the wash policy which is a guiding document for the wash sector in May 2019. We have also been able to train and build capacity of our staff so that they can professionalize and all these we are doing in partnership with the WASH.

We are also improving on our production capacity. Meanwhile, one thing we want to project is that with the challenges we are doing all these. You know you can have a breakdown today or any day at that, so he keeps ensuring anytime there is a breakdown, we are up to repair them. If you go down behind here, you will see a laboratory that has been expanded to receive equipment support from USAID and WASH, and all those things are made possible under his regime. And there had also been consistent trainings of people and conferences, whenever we have one, gives us the opportunity to attend them so that we can build capacity.

There is Jalingo Primary Water Source Project which is ongoing and part of the effort of the his excellency to ensure we improve the water services supply to the people of Taraba and so many boreholes have also been drilled and as at the last count, we have 829 boreholes that have been drilled since we came on board through the rural water and supply agency and CSDP.

The Water ATM seems to be one of the trends in the water sector and Taraba is keying into it, can you tell us more about this?

The ATM Machine as the name implies is an automated machine and this time around, instead of dispensing cash as we used to know it for the banks, our ATM machines dispenses water but the operation and everything it entails is similar to the operation of banks ATM. Because, for you access the ATM machines, you need an ATM card which will be recharged and as you go to the ATM machine, you can place your cards at the appropriate slot and then key in the quantity of water you want and the machine will discharge that exact quantity of water you want and deduct the cost from your card. So, it is a wonderful experience which is targeted at delivering excellent services to the people.

What is your agency doing to ensure that everybody in the state has access to drinkable water, for instance some villages in Karim Gembu, Gashaka still lack access to water?

We are doing our best to ensure that people in the urban centers of Taraba get adequate water. I told you that we have improved our production from 30% close to 70% now and we have opportunities to improve it further until we are able to achieve close to 100%. And let me give a clear explanation on the structure of the water sector. TAWASCO which is the one I'm heading is responsible for water services and distribution to urban centers and we have eight of such urban centers marked out in Taraba state and they are Jalingo, Wukari, Gembu, Takum, Ibi, Bali, Gashaka and Zing. These are town that have been shortlisted to enjoy urban water services provision. We also have semi urban centers which are under the services of STOWASA and they are responsible for water supply and sanitation services to Semi-urban centers in Taraba and here we are talking of any other local government headquarters that I did not mentioned in the eight that I earlier listed and also other towns which population are between 5000 to 19,999, but for towns with population of 20,000 and above will go under urban water supply.

We also have another water agency that is responsible for water supply to rural areas and that is the rural water supply agency which is responsible for carrying out services to rural areas and those are areas where the population are between zero to 5000. So, now to answer your question, we are doing our best to ensure that water supply gets to urban centers, eight of them in Taraba, and the small towns water agency is also doing their best to ensure water gets to the remaining local government headquarters, towns that I did not mentioned and the rural water supply agency is also doing its best to ensure that water get to the rural communities and that is the way the water sector is structured.

So far, what are the challenges you are facing in your bid to improve water supply in the state?

Let me quickly add here that providing water supply to the people is very expensive and we must appreciate government efforts in subsidizing and carrying out this exercise of providing water to the people otherwise we will not be able to pay for water if we are to be charged for what it takes to produce clean and portable water for drinking purposes if government do not subsidize it. We can see how much a bottle water cost but government is giving that water at N150/cupid meter and a cupid meter water is about five drums of water and so government gives that at that amount for the benefit of the people. So, the challenges we have is funding because even government is struggling with funds to meet other service like hospital, education, healthcare, agriculture, road projects, rural electrification amongst others.

Government is doing its best to ensure they provide funding for water services even though we know funding is a challenge and here we are dealing with a population that is ever increasing so the population explosion is also a challenge because our system is not able to cope with the ever-expanding population. Another challenge is the materials that we need to also expand like pipes, pumps and other equipment and they are also very expensive. The other one is the challenge from our customers, people we have provide this essential services to, some of them don't want to pay and it is incumbent that when people do not pay for services, such don't last long but when they pay for services, it gives us the opportunity to plough back the money to provide better services and expand our services to areas that we are yet to cover. Another challenge is that of vandalism and water theft because people break pipes to connect water and those things are challenges that we are facing.

 How do you generate revenue from the state?

I made mention of the fact that our cupid meter water cost N150 and what we do is that a customer that wants our service will first apply through filling the registration form and when he does that we now go take a survey of his premises, tell him what he needs to acquire so that we can connect the fellow after paying registration, connection, meter fees. Once the customer is connected, we give him bill at the end of every month and we expect such person to pay but the challenge we have is that some people will use water for four months straight without paying and that is not really encouraging.

I will call on our people to appreciate the effort of government in trying to provide this very important services for human while the people must take ownership of government efforts because government is about the people. So, when government is providing an essential service like water, the people should endeavor to own it and protect it like avoiding vandals and their activities. People should not indulge in water theft but come to us officially and go through the proper channel in getting water. The service is cheap and affordable, people should always protect our equipment and support government by paying their bills to improve our services and even expand it.



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