Segun Oladipupo |
Water everywhere, but none to drink.
That is the case with the residents of Baruwa, a sleepy town in the fringe of Lagos at Alimosho Local government of the state.
For more than 20 years now, the residents of Baruwa in Ipaja, Jakande estate and Diamond Estates in Isheri area of Lagos have been deprived of drinkable water from their wells and borehole due to corrosion by petroleum from alleged leaking Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) pipelines.
The problem which affected about 95 houses at the last count in 1998 when it began, has now extended to the neighbouring houses in sectors 3 and some parts of sector 4 of Abesan Housing Estate.
The now affected sectors 3 and 4 of Jakande estate, Baruwa did not have the experience until about ten years ago when the leaking pipes began to corrode their waters too.
It became so bad that sector 3 residents had to abandon the central borehole made by the government due to the corrosion.
The fear of the community people is that the situation may get worse if nothing is done to nip the problem as soon as possible.
Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo of house 56, who is the immediate past chairman of sector 3 residents in Jakande Estate said that the pollution is spreading fast because those who were not affected by the pollution about ten years ago now face the same problem.
Adebayo took our correspondent to where he pays to get water for his family. He paid initial twenty five thousand naira to get connected and parts with N400 every month as maintenance fee.
He lamented that they have put much efforts to call government to their aid but with no attendant result as the people wallow in unwarranted sufferings.
According to him, they suspect that the NNPC pipeline has busted somewhere underground that caused the leakage and until the point is discovered and amended, the problem will persist.
Pastor Samuel Oluwadamilare, a Christ Apostle Church pastor who does carpentry work beside the road in sector 3 also corroborated the claims of Mr. Adebayo.
He even said he could not quantify the amount his family spends on water every month. He added that they live on sarchet water since the few boreholes in the community are not drinkable.
An hotel owner in Baruwa who does not want his name in print simply instructed his staff to fetch water for our correspondent from the hotel well.
He said this matter has been on for decades and nothing is being done.
"This situation is killing because we invest heavily on water both to cook and drink for our customers since we can't use the water here."
He lamented that the problem is not only limited to rusty pipelines alone but vandals who throng the Baruwa pipeline every now and then to burst pipelines and scoop fuel.
He said they carry out the dastardly act within intervals of two weeks unfettered.
The Baale of the Baruwa community, High Chief Khalid Baruwa also told our correspondent that the menace has been living with the people since 1998 and several steps have been taken by the people but nothing to show for it as the dwellers still have to be at the mercy of local water sellers.
"We started noticing that our water smells fuel sometime in 1998 and we cried to the government even we wrote to the presidency, the NNPC, the PPMC, LASEPA, FEPA and all of them have been here.
"We have been carrying this in the media.
"Very recently, the presidency has sent some contractors here to come and confirm and they discovered that Baruwa and Diamond Estates at Isheri and some professors have been here and working and they have got their communique and passed it to the government and the government.
"They held a seminar last year where they invited everybody including the stakeholders, state and federal government representatives.
"But up till now, we have not heard anything, they told us that our matter has been sent back to the Secretary to the Federal Government. That is the last we have heard.
"I am not an expert but what I know is that the NNPC petroleum pipelines have been ruptured because according to the seminar we held in 2005, some experts that were invited said the life span for Petroleum pipes have expiring date. According to them, the life span is between12 to 15 years.
"They have buried those pipes since 1978 and there was a time a former President, Olusegun Obasanjo said the pipes should be changed but was not done.
"Since then, we have been buying water from water sellers including those that sell with tanker. The health implication of our water purchase is that we don't know the source of the water they sell to us.
"My appeal to the government is that they should first of all give us pipe borne water either from Mini-water works or Adiyan. I met with the manager last year but up till now, nothing has been done," he noted.
Meanwhile, all efforts to get the side of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) proved abortive as calls made to the agency were neither picked nor acknowledged.
But it was learnt that the agency had promised to find a lasting solution to the problem even as it was said that it had met several times with the community dwellers.
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