Fetching water freely from a public tap constructed adjacent to her house on Monday, Rita Okoye who lives in Kwali, a rural community situated near Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, has felt much relieved compared to her searching all-day for water to complete her daily chores in the past.
Pregnant with her sixth child, Okoye, in her second trimester, had lived together with her family for seven years in that community amid the shortage of potable water.
The community, with a population of 85,837, used to have a public water supply scheme which was constructed 30 years ago and had undergone several rehabilitations since establishment.
The public water scheme was last rehabilitated in 2012, and it had been abandoned since then.
According to Okoye, for five years since 2012, most residents of Kwali depended on mobile water vendors who sold untreated water to them in jerrycans.
“We spent so much money, at least 36,000 naira (approximately 100 U.S. dollars) a year buying untreated water from those vendors,” the expectant mother told Xinhua in an interview.
On Monday, aid came to the local residents when a Chinese firm, China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC) Nigeria Limited handed over an improved water source to the community.
The Chinese company, at a ceremony held to hand over the improved water source to the community, said its aim was to fulfill its corporate social responsibility goals to the people of Kwali.
Ye Shuijin, the managing director of the Chinese firm in Nigeria, said in fulfilling its social responsibility goal to the community, CGGC installed a solar-powered system to replace the standby generator being used to operate the waterworks, thereby reducing the operational cost and the frequency of the electricity generator maintenance.
It also rehabilitated and upgraded a 140-cubic meter ground surface tank, a 190-cubic meter elevated tank, two separate 100-cubic meter overhead tanks and two boreholes. It also provided and constructed four new boreholes and carried out water reticulation with the construction of 11 tap islands, to mention a few.
From this improved water source, the supply cuts across the entire town, running through the schools, markets, offices, and homes of the local people.
At least 3,000 people can have access to potable water from 29 fetching points every day due to the Chinese firm’s efforts, Ye noted.
Many of the local residents who trooped out to welcome their Chinese guests and local officials to the handing over ceremony were full of praises to the Chinese firm, particularly for solving a major perennial problem of the Kwali community.
Onna Anselm, a trader who has lived in the community for 13 years, said the improved water supply gift by the Chinese firm came at the right time.
“We’re already in the dry season when water is usually very scarce here. But at this time, the problem has been solved because people can now walk to the fetching points to get potable water from the taps,” Anselm said.
After rehabilitation by CGGC, the water supply scheme has been developed to compose of about 4,400-meter length of a new pipeline.
“This will greatly improve the standard of living of the people, as indeed, water is life,” the local resident added.
While launching the waterworks for use, minister of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello urged the people of the community to take good care and ownership of the project to avoid damage of the water supply source.
“It is very gratifying to note that one of our very important stakeholders in the Federal Capital Territory story, that is, CGGC Nigeria limited has decided to support us through the rehabilitation of this waterworks. And for us, we are immensely grateful to the company and also to the entire group in China for this laudable project,” Bello added.