What was the previous situation of water supply in Katsina State before emergence of this administration?
This is a direct question as far as I‘m concerned, because history is always there to prove to us that one of the cardinal policies of this administration is the restoration agenda. Given that, nobody would deny the fact that His Excellency as the Governor of Katsina State is surely a professor in the University of Experience in terms of water supply which has been part of his cardinal principle since he came into office.
However, the history of water in Katsina State can be traced back from 1974 to date. Though many administrations came on board, they only dealt with the immediate problems and not the actual issue like this administration is doing.
For something that is dated back to 1974, that is over 40 years ago, the installed machines have been on the ground. But when this administration came on board, the Ajiwa was only producing just 11million cubits of water per day instead of its original capacity of producing 50 million cubic of water due to some challenges.
The Malumfashi site was down because it was empty, nothing there on the ground. The capacity of the Malumfashi Dam was supposed to be around 10,000 cubits of water per day. When you go to Funtua, two dams consisting of Maigwaye and Mairuwa which is used for urban water supply both have challenges. The distribution network, the original pumping station, the electron components and a lot of other things including the expansion programmes were the problems in Funtua.
In Dutsin-ma, there was no water there when this administration came on board. It was only the structure that was there. It was the same situation we met at Daura. Although in Daura there was water there were also a lot of challenges in the place.
Jibia was almost totally shut down because there was nothing there, due to challenges on the electron machines and the component of the engines among others things to mention.
What specific measures has the current administration put in place to change the narrative?
When this administration came on board, the first thing we did in the water sector was award the Ajiwa contract. I‘m talking about a dam that has the original capacity to produce 50 million cubic of water, but it can only produce 11 million cubic due to the challenge.
Mind you, before the creation of the state, the Ajiwa plant was serving Rimi, Mashi, Mani by gravity, and at the same time serving Katsina town that has a population of over 300,000 people at that time. But now, Katsina has Ajiwa as a major supplier for the water that doubles its capacity.
As far as I‘m concerned, the issue of water is a well-known fact that out of the average performance of a hundred productions, you can‘t find 25 per cent on the ground in the whole dams in Katsina State, including the distribution network systems.
So, when this administration came on board, seeing is believing. We awarded the Ajiwa contract for upgrading and rehabilitation of the plant. The idea was to bring its original capacity back, and that has been the cardinal principle and policy of this administration.
For instance, like a car‘s mechanism, if you are expecting maybe the plug has a problem, when you open it, you would further discover lots of other damages to the car. So also, the initial contract of Ajiwa gave birth to about seven other projects which were also awarded and mostly completed. Though, few are still left at 75 per cent completion.
The recent project signed is on the spillway, clarifiers, mortgage and some other things. And as I‘m talking to you right now, Ajiwa is already a new waterworks with its original capacity to produce more than 50 million cubic water on the ground.
The reason why I previously made that illustration was to simply let you also look at the high-cost implication of all the contracts, as well as the extent of work in the water sector, so that you will understand that the project is not something you can compare to window shopping, but also require connection with the company who designs the plan and same time to produce the facilities mainly for the purpose. I hope you are aware of the KSB company, a German company that has been a great competitor in the water sector, especially in the plants‘ industry. It is the one handling the Ajiwa waterworks and is doing it very well.
Awarding the contract has brought a total change of the electron components of the water, because the facilities that were installed 40years ago were down and the engine components were also rusted and damaged. That was why the government sees the need of expanding another treatment plant to avert future challenges in the sector, with a view of extending the length of the dam, spillway, electron components and to change the original capacity of the water sector generally.
Can you tell us more about the upgrade of the Ajiwa waterworks?
As I said, the Ajiwa contract gave birth to seven contracts due to the situation we met on the ground. The nature of the projects were the electron components, generators and pumping machines, and all were replaced with new ones. It was the same thing when you go to the booster station. Currently, there are two contracts in the Ajiwa waterworks, which are mainly for the expansion of the spillway and the expansion of the dam as well as the whole treatment plants. This is a contract that cost about N942 million. It was just approved by the state executive council. The expansion of the dam is also approved at about N347 million. So Ajiwa is now new waterworks to be used for today and tomorrow.
Remember, that the Ajiwa water usually comes directly to affect the booster at the Kofar Kaura and then supply water to the state. Because of that also, we have these new brand booster machines which were brought mainly to link the Zobe water project contributed by both the federal and state government in resolving the water supply, which has a capacity of supplying 125 million cubits of water to Dutsin-ma, Charanchi, Kafinsoli and down to Katsina town and other places.
Part of the agreement signed was for the federal government to complete phase one of bringing the water from Dustin-ma directly to Katsina, and the state government should also give out a contract for phase one B, at the same time to connect the water to Katsina environs and the people of Dutsin-ma to also benefit.
As far as I‘m concerned, today, the first agreement is a reality to what is on the ground, if you go there the booster is there and all the elevated tanks are also available in the place. We now have a new befitting booster and an inter-connector from Zobe that can even go up to the army barrack.
Multiple contracts were also given purposely to change the entire booster system. We now have six engines in the booster station. And out of these six engines, only two are working. The booster station is serving as a distribution network that boosts water to all parts of the state. And a lot of the pipes were rusted before now, but we took our time to fix all these.
So, there is an interconnection in the entire contracts awarded, because the six components of the pumping engines are all new and the civil work in the site was also changed and can now compete with any other plant in the world. We now have some modern engines, new generator sets, pumping machines and electronic components.
The challenges we discovered in Katsina were almost similar in Daura. If you go to Daura, all the pumps were also changed and returned to their normal capacity of pumping water. There is also a connection between the Daura plant and that of the Zobe waterworks. And now, Daura people are currently enjoying two supports. What remains there is the interconnection, which we have started doing in some parts of the area.
Also, If you go to Mallumfashi, we are talking about a dam that is dried but today you will see the expansion of the dam for irrigation purposes and other things like supplying Mallumfashi and its environs water in 100 per cent capacity. From 5 million cubits now raised to 10 million cubits. A new treatment plant has just been taken there, with overhead tanks installed which can serve as a regional water supply.
Same thing at the Ajiwa water work where there is an interconnection created to also serve as regional water supplying Remi and some neighbouring villages along the axis. As far as I‘m concerned, when you go to Daura, Dutsin-ma, Jibia, Funtua and others, you would see that there are works on expansion ongoing there. Likewise, there are new engines, pumping machines and generator sets in all these areas.
Based on the agreement signed with the federal government to hand over the project after the completion, and to provide chemicals to the treatment plants in Mashi and Dutsi which the state government now take the responsibility of handling. It was the same thing after commissioning the Zobe plant, we‘ve already taken over the place. Now the water coming from Zobe to Katsina is over 45 cubits per day. The solution to the problems have been identified and now the challenge is the distribution network, which has been captured in the budget.
There is this new treatment plant project in Danja. This gigantic project was worth over 9 billion naira, but the state government paid 40 per cent of the amount. Now the work is over 58 per cent completed. Now, the challenge is also how to access the site because of the heavy rock in the area. Thank Allah, the place is a water area though difficult sometimes to access.
At the moment, we are buying land and compensating people while we continue doing our work in the place. And again, let me make this clear that in all the contracts I mentioned earlier, no one is owing the government a single kobo. Our only challenge right now is the distribution and we are on course.
Do you think the government is committing the required resources to ensure potable water in the state?
You can‘t do all that without money, you have to appropriate what you would spend. As I‘m talking to you, from all the seven contracts in the Ajiwa waterworks, no single contractor is owned by the government. We have given them the mobilisation fund and we are also paying them based on the level of work done.
The same scenario in the big project we have at Danja, where we‘ve paid 40 per cent of the contract, also issuing contract finance on a monthly basis to the contractor. It was the same thing to all the state government contracts. In fact, in some areas, 100 per cent payment has been made.
Billions of naira were allocated directly for that purpose. Though most of the contracts are spilled over, due to the nature and turbulence in the state. But the reality is that the government has spent over N27 billion in the water sector. That is, from 2015 to date, the government has made a budget of over N30 billion and has committed over N27 billion. As it is, there are no on-going contracts that are less than 60 per cent completed. All our types of equipment were bought from Germany and have already arrived. We are now left with fixing, which is part of the contract.
Are there plans to construct new dams to aid dry season farming?
Well, we own the water body, but the ministry of Agriculture is in charge of irrigation. Though we‘ve bought land and compensated people for agriculture, because there is a lot of water supply for irrigation farming which our people are benefiting from. We have done that in Mallumfashi, Ajiwa, Jibia, Dutsin-ma among others things.
What sort of support are you getting, if any, from development partners in the area of water?
Currently, we are dealing with the World Bank programme, WASH which we have qualified among the seven states, to boost water supply. Our target is to make all our regional water supply functional and to take care of the electron components, at the same time to extend the network of water generally, because cities are expanding and there is a need for you to lay new pipelines which have been captured in the budget.
We are indeed in talks with the European investment partners of the World Bank programme for a series of interventions. And our doors are always open to receive more partners that are ready to partner with us to further enhance the water supply in the state.
You have been in government for a long time, how would you compare this government with past administrations in terms of performance?
I think, since the coming of democracy in 1999 to date, no government has performed credibly well like the present administration. Each of the past governments has done its parts in the semi-urban and rural water development. But no government ever committed to the intervention of water supply in Katsina like Governor Masari. We have the highest budget with the implementation of over 78 per cent.
I‘m not surprised when the governor, during his campaign, said that his restoration agenda was to transform the water sector. He is indeed a professor at the University of Water because he has lived there throughout his lifetime. He worked there and has been given free consultancy services. We challenge anybody to come and dispute any of these facilities we claimed, if they are not there or operational. So, I rate this administration very high and commend him for doing a good job.
What is your message to residents of the state?
Well, what the present administration is doing is a justification of the public fund in utilising its purpose to make life better for our people. Seeing is believing. We need to join hands together to build our state, because nobody would do that for us. Let‘s come as partners in progress to make Katsina great.
People should cooperate with what the government is doing and be seriously involved in government activities and pay water bills as when due. We cannot do it alone, but we need to partner with the people. Our doors are always open to embrace all, including the opposition party.