The challenge of water supply in Gombe


Drilling of borehole and sale of water in carts and tankers are commonplace and arguably even among the most attractive or open businesses in Gombe. Many have moved into it over the years—the reason for which is not too difficult to discern.

Gombe state, even before its creation as a state in 1996 has been facing insufficient water supply. This is worsened whenever there's no enough electricity to power the few boreholes available or pump from few plants in the state.

Households belonging to the rich have already learned the hard way to drill their boreholes to supply their families with water to drink, bath and cook.

Others who are yet to mull over the decision of drilling one constantly purchase water tanks at N4,000 to N5,000 every day for daily consumption.

For middle-income earners, the option is cart pushers, commonly called 'yan kus-kus' who are mostly migrants from neighboring West African countries. At the very least, Hassan Muhammad, a cart pusher told this reporter at Liti Village, Yemaltu Deba Local Government Area that he alone ‘sells at least 20 – 25 trips of fourteen 20ltr gallons of cart a day. If you calculate each 20ltr gallon at N20, multiply by 14, 20 to 25 times a day, it is not a small money’.

They cart-pushers come seasonally to run the business. Once it is raining season in their various localities, they return to farm. Mallam Adamu, also a cart-pusher from Bagadaza, told this correspondent that he earns handsomely each season in this job, noting that 'it's from it that I buy fertilizer and other farming tools, including sustaining me and my family'.

However, for those who cannot afford to drill a borehole or purchase the tanks and carts, they have to rely on few generous people who allow them to fetch in their houses. To this end, young children and women moving around with buckets in search for water is almost a constant sight in the state.

The situation in Gombe seems to be more than it is commonly ever understood. There are certain areas where even those who can afford to drill a borehole cannot because the depth of recommended aquifer is hard to attain.

Regarding the unavailability of ground water in some parts of the state, geologist, Abubakar Puma said ‘it should be understood that such places where no water is found when boreholes are dug are actually on very high altitude hence their water table appear to be unreachable’.

He however added ‘the geological arrangement of the earth crust is naturally made in such a way that every portion of the land has underground water. Even those places as Tunfure and the like which some people ignorantly assume to have no such natural endowment actually do have, explaining further that ‘the availability or unavailability of a reachable underground water in an area is a natural phenomenon’

This has therefore made these communities, even for the haves, dependent on water tankers or cart-pushers who supply it from Kwadom and Bypass for their daily need. Still, the poor trek miles to fetch.

A teen, rejoicing in merriment having secured a 10-litre bucket, said to this reporter at Pantami that 'I was here yesterday and even today I have been here since early morning, but I am just getting it. I am used to it'.

When asked of the feelings, he said to YERWA EXPRESS NEWS (YEN) that 'it is frustrating, at first the queue seem unending, sometimes many people would be on the queue even when there's no light, but you are always joyous once you get to fetch it'.

Though few generous people have drilled community boreholes to ease the situation, electricity supply and effective maintenance constitute another challenge to deal with.

These notwithstanding, the boreholes, water tankers and cart-pushers have helped to reduce the effect greatly.

Mal. Murtala Muhammad (Falke) of Pantami community who drilled a borehole at Abuja Quarters for 2 years now for the use of the public, said 'it has helped to reduce a situation where people trek miles to look for water; today, those who have the means even connect pipes to the borehole to link directly to their houses and pay token every month'.

'The only major challenge if at all there is, is when there's no power, one has to use petrol to run a generator', he added.

A news report by News Agency of Nigeria on November 16, 2016 quoted the Commissioner of Water Resources, Mohammed Danazumi as saying the government annually spends N1.8bn for supply of water in the state’.

On April 3, 2017, Abu-Ubaidah Ibrahim Kuna, Personal Assistant (Social Media) to Ibrahim Dankwambo said in a report published in some media that his boss’s administration ‘has awarded contract for the rehabilitation and reticulation of pipelines in the state with extension to Kwami, Gadam, Bojude, Kompulata and Tappi and also awarded contract for water sustenance and maintenance of the Gombe Regional Water supply scheme and many other parts of the state at the cost of over N4 billion”,

The governor’s aide further said the following are done in the area of ‘provision of portable water rehabilitation/reticulation of Gombe pipelines and extension to Kwami, Gadam, Bojude, Tappi and Kompulata; completion of feasibility studies, design and reticulation works for supply of water from Balanga Dam to Gelengu, Swa, Tula, Ture, Kaltungo, Boh, Billiri, and Kumo Towns; extension of water supply to Baure, Dangar, and other villages; rehabilitation of Malam Inna Water Supply Scheme; provision of Water Supply to the proposed industrial cluster/enterprise zone at Nasarawo Extension of water reticulation project to Tunfure community’, among other things.

Others are the ‘establishment of Fish Fingering Hatchery Centre at Dadinkowa; purchase of fish feed machineries and equipment to Dadinkowa Fish Farms; improvement of Tula Water Scheme; procurement of water purification chemicals; construction of three (3) hand pumps boreholes at NYSC Orientation Camp; desalting of canals and regulatory devices at Balanga Dam; purchase of 2 engine boats; operation and maintenance of Gombe Regional Water Supply Scheme; Construction of Earth Dam at Boh, Shongom Local Government Area’.