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Gov. Ishaku’s Remarkable Intervention in the Water Sector

On assumption of office on May 29, 2015, the Executive Governor of Taraba State met an on-going AfDB-financed urban water supply scheme for Jalingo. He called for a ministerial briefing on the project and immediately observed that 62-kilometer coverage of the pipeline network was grossly inadequate for the capital city.

Mount Jalingo Water tank
Mount Jalingo Water tank

He therefore instructed for the extension of the network coverage by 150 kilometers.  In the same vein, the governor realized that the underground water sources being exploited through boreholes would not yield adequate water that could service the number of water reservoirs constructed under the AfDB project, so he awarded another contract worth about N7 billion naira for the development of a greater water source that can serve the city for the next twenty years, taking into consideration expected growth in population.

The contract which was awarded to an Israeli company is presently on-going. In order to achieve the paradigm shift required by the AfDB from the present situation of continued dependence on government funding of water supply facilities which has been found not to be sustainable, the Bank made it a condition for both the Exective arm (led by the Executive Governor) and the Legislature ( led by the Speaker of the House of Assembly) to undertake a benchmarking exercise with an existing successful water agency within the African continent.

This benchmarking exercise is aimed at bringing to light the need for the development of modern management and operational structures, strategies and technology that will make it possible for the soon-to-be rejuvenated Jalingo water scheme to be self-sustaining and positioned for the provision of satisfactory services to all shreds of the residents of Jalingo city.

It is in the light of this, and considering the passionate commitment of the governor to the provision of sustainable water supply to the people of Taraba State, that he personally led the team of government functionaries and some key staff of the Taraba State Water Supply Agency to the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Company Ltd for a 3-day bench-marking exercise. The second team to be led by the Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly left Nigeria on Sunday, 27th November.

While in Kenya, Governor Ishaku paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Nairobi County at his office where he explained to him the purpose of his visit. The County Governor who expressed his delight over the idea of sister African countries sharing ideas and collaborating for better services to our people, assured Governor Ishaku of the full support of his government for the success of the benchmarking exercise, and charged the management of Nairobi Water Company to give the Taraba State delegation all the required support and co-operation. The County Governor received Governor Ishaku’s delegation alongside his deputy.

The benchmarking exercise took two formats, made up of a two-day presentation and inter active sessions, and a day out to see some of the major water supply facilities of the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Company Ltd. 

Presentations included an overview of the state of water supply services and operations in Taraba State, made by the General Manager of the State Water Agency, Eng. Musa Siam. A number of other presentations were made by various officials of the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Company Ltd, that covered essentially development and management of their water sources, distribution, billing, and deployment of modern technology for effective and efficient operations for self-sustainability and quality services.

The interactive sessions which were carried out with the full participation of Governor Ishaku was concluded on the second day of the bench-marking exercise and served as an eye-opener to His Excellency and his team, as the success story of the Nairobi Water Company showed clearly that sustainable water supply through efficient provision of services and the deployment of technology for effective billing and collection is possible.

The second phase of the bench-marking exercise took the Taraba State Governor to the Thika Dam which serves as the main water supply source to the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Company Ltd.

In his usual characteristic of taking full advantage of every opportunity that comes his way for the good of the people of Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku used his trip to the Thika Dam to visit a coffee plantation farm where he was taken round the plantation and exposed to the simple primary processing of coffee.

He had to embark on this familiarization visit because for a while, since turning around the Kakara Tea Company on the Mambilla, his next ambition has been that he would go into the promotion of coffee production and processing on the Mambilla Plateau of Taraba State.

To the expectation of all government officials in his entourage, the governor’s visit to the private coffee estate brought out so much excitement in him that everyone on his entourage is in no doubt about the fact that very soon Taraba State will be singing the coffee tune.

There is no gainsaying that any one visiting Kenya will most likely make effort to visit at least one of the national parks in the country. Governor Ishaku is no exception to this common phenomenon. He therefore decided to spend a
night at Nakuru, the administrative headquarters of Nakuru County.

In this city, he visited the Nakuru National Park with his entourage. Before his visit to the park, he was well received by the Governor of Nakuru County who took him on a visit of the Government Hospital in the city and a brief appearance at the induction of fresh students into the Kenya Medical Training College. His visit to Nakuru actually turned out to be more of a working visit than leisure as so many issues were discussed with the governor of that County and commitments made to the effect that further discussions would be arranged for the actualization of a closer working relationship between Taraba State and the Nakuru County.

One big achievement of this bench-marking visit of the Governor of Taraba State is his resolve that the success story of the Nairobi Water Supply and Sewerage Company Ltd must be replicated in Taraba State.

To this end, he has resolved that by January 2017, young graduates will be engaged and sent to Nairobi for on-the-job training, preparatory to the commissioning and take-off of the Jalingo Urban Water Scheme.

–Usman is Chief of Staff, Government House
(Administration), Taraba State.

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