Residents of Abuja satellite towns groan under the weight of spending so much daily on patronising water vendors popularly known as ‘Mairuwa’, who have become the major source of water supply in these areas. KEHINDE AJOBIEWE writes.
For a taxi driver and father of five, Marshal Ade who lives in Mpape village, buying water daily is his worst nightmare in Abuja. “Getting water is our major problem here, there is no source of potable water here”, Ade told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY.
“I buy at least 10 jericans (200 litres) of water every day, and na manage I dey manage am with my wife and five children. Na from these 10 jericans we dey bath, cook, wash, and do other things wey we wan do. Na taxi driver I be, and na must make I provide for my family. In my neighbourhood we dey buy 20 litres jerican of water for N20 or N25 sometimes. We thank God say rainy season done come. When rain dey fall my wife go put buckets outside collect rain water. We don dey used to am”, said Ade .
He, however, appealed to government and Abuja water board to do something about it, by providing potable water to the suburbs, since it is not everyone that can afford to live in the city centre.
In the case of Ikechukwu Dominic,a petty trader who resides in Airport road, the story is not different”. In the neighbourhood where I reside, the cost of purchasing water from water vendors popularly known as ‘mairuwa’ is high, even the people that spend so much money to provide boreholes in their houses use it for business that is why the cost is so high for us. Government really needs to do something about it. A 20-litre jerican of water is sold for N40 in my area and I buy five jericans daily which means I have to spend N200 per day on water alone from my meagre income out of which I feed and cater for my family members”.
“It is not everyone that can afford to live inside town where there seems to be availability of potable water. All we ask for is that government should remember those of us living in the suburbs and give us pipe-borne water to ease our suffering. We are ready to pay the bills because it cannot be as expensive as what we spend on mairuwa.
A food vendor, name withheld said she buys close to 15 jericans of water daily to prepare food for her customers. According to her, “everybody knows what we are suffering in terms of potable water but no one seem to be concerned about proffering solution to the problem. This is the business I do to cater for my family, and so I have no choice than to spend at least N600 daily on water”
Even those living very close to the metropolis are not exempted. Onyeka Ejike, a civil servant and resident of Mabushi said he buys a truck of water per day for the use of his family.” When there is light we buy each jerican for N30 but whenever there is no light (public power source) which has become recurrent within this area, we buy a jerican at the rate of N40. This has not been easy for everyone. If you do not understand Hausa which is the immediate language most of the mairuwa’ speak, then you are on your own”, he said
Speaking on the way forward, he said “the only way that this problem can end is for government to carry out their responsibilities to the people it is serving in terms of provision of basic amenities such as light and water”. Government should ensure that water supply is not limited to the metropolis alone but extended to the suburbs which is where the majority of civil servants and menial workers reside.
“Apart from spending your money on purchasing water daily, sometimes we trek long distances to buy water during dry season. Although we experienced some relief during the past rainy season but now that the dry season has setting we can not help but wonder how we will cope”.
These stories are few out of the many by residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) satellite towns, who have to cope with the pain and fear of living in places where there are no provision of basic amenity such as water.
Places like Garki, Wuse, within the metropolis can boast of adequate water supply by Abuja water board. But the question is how many people can afford to live in places such as these, considering the high cost of renting houses in them. This is the basic reason why civil servants and low income earners prefer to stay in places such as Lugbe, Airport road, Mpape among others in order to survive the high cost of living in Abuja.
But this does not mean that authority involved should not make adequate provision for supply of potable water and other basic amenities to the residents of the suburbs whose services Abuja cannot do without.
It is worthy of note that even some places that are considered to be highbrow areas such as Maitama, Wuse II among others, also suffer from inadequate supply of potable water supply and therefore forced to use the services of water hawkers.
Christy Okpara, who runs a Gym in Maitama told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that she spends so much money daily on the purchase of water and electricity supply to run her business. “Everyday I have to buy water and fuel my generating set for my business, this is because the area my business is situated has been cut off from these basic amenities”, she said.
The failure of government to provide this basic facility in most parts of the city has made Water vending or Mairuwa business a common phenomenon. This has not been easy for those who patronise them, using part of their meagre income which is meant to cater for other needs. Since Abuja water board seems to be doing nothing to meet the water needs of the people, residents of the affected areas have no choice than to welcome the services of Mairuwa.
The huge amount of money that people spend daily on the purchase of water if put together will generate enough revenue for government as settlement of bills for potable water it provides to the people.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that the Abuja Water Board has made plans to take 30 per cent of its new water scheme to Abuja suburbs while 70 per cent goes to the metropolis, but how long it will take for this scheme to be fully implemented is what is yet to be known.
Although their business seem very strenuous as they use up much energy to push their truck loads of water daily, covering long distances and sometimes climbing steps to meet the water needs of their customers, it puts food on the table for them and their families.
A 27-year-old water vendor ‘mairuwa’, Ado Abu told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that he makes at least N1,500 daily on selling water. According to him, “we buy 12 jericans of water (one truck) at the rate of N100 from people that have boreholes in their houses, and I sell one jerican for N30.00 when there is electricity supply, and N40.00 when there is no light. So sometimes I make profit of N1,500 to N2,000 per day as the case may be, and I take care of my family from the proceeds”, he narrated through an interpreter.
Efforts to get the views of the FCT Water Board on the issue were not successful as the Head, Public Relations of the agency Mrs. Janet Peni, said she could not speak on the issue.