Kaduna: Very soon we shall have capacity to supply water regularly -Maikudi

Comrade Sanusi Maikudi, the Managing Director, Kaduna State Water Corporation (KASWAC) in this interview spoke on activities of the Corporation, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government for the construction Itisi multi-purpose dam project that will improve water supply to  Kaduna metropolis.

Question: The signing of the MoU between Kaduna State Government and Federal Government for the construction of Itisi multi – purpose dam is certainly a big relief for Governor Nasir El-Rufai and indeed for your corporation. How much relief are we talking about?

Answer: The signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Federal Government represented by Honourable Minister of Water Resources on one hand and Kaduna State Government represented by His Excellency, the Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Ahmad Nasir Elrufai is a dream come true. It is a project that has been under gestation since 2008. The detailed engineering design, the feasibility studies, environmental Impact Assessment were all carried out, but some how the project was abandoned.

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai whose passion for transformational projects, especially projects with multiplier effect, was aware of the wide gap between the per capita water supply and per capital water demand of Kaduna metropolis because the UNICEF and UNDP per capita water supply index for urban areas is 120 litres per person per day. …this gap was further revealed after the Kaduna Water Supply Sector Implementation Plan review. The Kaduna metropolis has been growing in spatial  terms, coupled with the rural-urban migration and attendant demographic explosion of the people already and unfortunately the last expansion of water supply in the Kaduna metropolis was in 1987, about 33 years ago. The technology is relatively outdated, the infrastructure is overstressed and the demand for water has multiplied so it was prioritized under the leadership of the governor in both the Economic Development Council because it has power generation component, it also has tourism component and agricultural component …it’s a priority and a legacy project. 

The signing of the MoU is the first leg in the implementation of the project, it is to be followed by the construction of dam, from which we expect  electricity generation, the water treatment plant, the irrigation system for agriculture and the tourism facilities that the private sector will hopefully leverage on. So we are saying it’s a big relief to us as stakeholders in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Kaduna because the people deserve enough portable water 2-4-7, they deserve state-of-the-art water production, transmission, storage, distribution and service delivery as a model 21ST Century city. Especially now that the government as embarked in Urban Renewal – so you cannot renew roads, buildings and ignore a vital component like water supply.  We are happy that the Federal Government and the State Government are partnering because the size of the project in terms of Naira and Kobo is beyond the capacity of a single stakeholder to finance within a lifetime. 

Question: Please explain the importance of this project, especially the significance of the MoU, now that has been signed what does that mean?

Answer: With the signing of the MOU three things have taken place. Constitutionally the Federal Government has the exclusive rights to construct dams in the country and because of the size of the project Kaduna State Government had to involve the federal government, because there are other aspects of the project which Kaduna would be shouldering, they canvassed the support, goodwill, understanding and financing of the construction of the dam by the Federal Government and the Federal Government agreed, which led to the signing of the MoU…

Question. And that is very significant…

Answer. Yes. So the stage is now set for the Federal Government to award the contract after complying with the procurement processes as enshrined in the Public Procurement Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The government will engage the services of a consultant to supervise the project. At the end of the day we are envisaging a big addition to the water reservation within the state in terms of hydrological dam. And like I said earlier the dam right from design is conceived as a multi-purpose dam. It is a project that has multiplier effects from the social, economic to health and other aspects of human lives within the Kaduna metropolitan region ….which is a radius of 50-75 km because Kaduna like you know is becoming a megacity ….it is part of what is now being referred to as the LAKAJ- Lagos-Abuja-Kaduna-Jibia  corridor and as well as the Abuja -Kaduna-Kano corridor the fastest growing development and urbanization corridors in West Africa. Geographers engaged in aerial mapping documented this phenomenon. 

Question: Now you know many people don’t even remember you’re an architect….let’s digress…how timely is the urban renewal projects of Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai?

Answer: Yes, very timely because the infrastructure have aged and they are not compliant with the urban development paradigm of the 21st century and when you are planning there is what you call planning parameters, you are planning for a certain number of demographic size called population and that population have what is called ‘growth rate’ , which in the case of Kaduna State is about 3.18% , but it keeps changing. Apart from population growth spatial expansion is another thing. In addition to the spatial expansion, you have technological advancements taking place across the world, digital disruption, application of automation processes and then energy efficient installations and infrastructure whereby you prepare for the future proactively…thankfully these are captured within the Kaduna State Economic Development plan 2016 – 2020, 2020 – 2024. So when you take all these factors together there is a vision in place there is the projected demand across public services, education ,Healthcare, water supply power ,security ,housing ,commercial centers, office space, so all this made the imperative of the Urban Renewal to  became historically inevitable that the El-Rufai must embark on it. And the state will harvest what is called urban economics. It’s a peculiar branch of economics that is very lucrative, it yields revenue, it creates jobs, it transforms lives, so the income of the state government will multiply from taxes, land use charge, , income taxes, pay as you earn and a host of other revenues and levies that are legitimately and constitutionally accrued to the state government can now use be to surplus to transform the semi-urban communities as well as the rural areas.

Question: What’s the projection for Kaduna metropolis…you’ve talked about the population rate of 3.5 growth rate per annum. 

Answer: Yes, because population is not static, we all know the drivers of population growth, which include organic growth, migration, enhanced means of transportation such as …our proximity to Abuja and the railway line which is making it easy for people to choose to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja, because of the high cost of living in Abuja. 

Question: Back to the significance of the MoU. …explain what you mean by the reversed project components and scope?

Answer: What it simply means is that since the design was made in 2008 all the planning parameters have changed …the people we intend to serve between then, now and when the project will be completed will also have changed, so are the technology, cost and WASH policy framework.

Question: Safe to conclude that Kaduna State has a younger population….

Answer: Very correct. Technology has also changed. Now there is increasing concern and with absolute justification about environmental sustainability and climate change. So we are sensitive about the environment ..we don’t want to add to global warming, so that you don’t disrupt the life and livelihoods of people and the ecosystem. Therefore we had to revise the scope and incorporate the new settlements that have sprung, , in the semi -urban areas of Kaduna. You also have new settlements that according to the United Nations Convention on Water which was signed in 2019 during the International Water Day with the slogan “leave no one behind’.

Question: The four phases for this project are ; design-construction of the dam, intake structure ,hydropower, civil works and access road so what phases will the Kaduna state government be handling?

Answer: The interim position for now is that Kaduna state is going to construct the water treatment plant that can treat 250 million liters per day which is expected to cost at least 40 to 50 Billion Naira……

Question: That is the entire revenue of the state for one year.

Answer: It’s a worthwhile project because of the importance of water …

Question: That’s obvious …before now every year we hear of cholera outbreak in Zaria…that’s history.

Answer. The accolades goes to the stakeholders of the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Sector, the state steering committee who are very passionate …the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, KEPA, Kaduna Environmental Protection Agency, RUWASSA, Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure that supervises the water sector now and some NGOs. There is also the Kaduna State Water and Regulatory Commission…the chief-whip. Kaduna has the best Water Sector architecture in the country, which is why some states are coming to under study what we are doing ….and with all due respect this is part of the peer review mechanism which allows even Countries to under study one another so we are not boasting, we are happy, we are grateful that we have reached the stage where our brothers and sisters from other states can come and study…and take note we too may need to go and study one or two things from them but for now they are the ones coming. 

Question: So if all goes well when will this project be completed?

Answer: The project depends on a number of critical success factors. The first one is the Legal Procurement Process- our recommended  strategy is that the contracts for  different components should be procured (awarded)  simultaneously. We don’t need  to wait until the Dam is ready before we start the Water Treatment Plant, the network of reservoirs- we want each neighborhood in Kaduna to have a dedicated reservoir, the reticulation within the city, this will minimize disruption of water supply. So all things being equal our dream, hopes and prayer are  that this project should be commissioned before May 29, 2023 all things being equal.

Question: If I get you right the impact of this project… you keep talking about Kaduna metropolis and environs, so what will be the impact of this new project on water supply services? 

Answer: There are three quick points….the first one, right now we have limited capacity, presently our installed capacity is about 267.5 million liters out of the 400 million liters that’s required.

Question: So there’s a huge shortfall…

Answer: Yes, due to growing population and aging infrastructure, but serious replacement is ongoing right now. So very soon we shall have the capacity to supply water 2-4-7. Secondly, the new treatment plant will bring down the cost of our operation because the new system will be energy-efficient, we will use a lot of gravity. 

Question: The Kaduna Electric Company will not be happy hearing this…considering that you are their number one customer…

Answer: No, we will have electricity to sell to them from the power that will be generated from the dam. We will continue to be business partners.

Question: But they will lose you, you are their biggest customer…

Answer: They will not lose us totally. There will be power right at the Water Treatment Plant, which is going to bring down the cost of our operation for many reasons …. we are going to be spending less on water treatment chemicals because when you’re taking water from a dam and because dans are normally settled, it’s not as turbid as the river. With River Kaduna…all the drainages in the town empty into it so you have a lot to do such as , out clean, sediment , precipitate, coagulate, filter out and disinfect the water. You have to do the physical treatment, chemical treatment and biological treatment, but with the new dam which is out of town….we don’t have these issues….so we are going to have relatively cleaner water that will require less water treatment chemicals in terms of treatment etc. 

Question: This will impact on the health of the people positively…

Answer: ….less wastage of man hour, increased productivity….this project is like a crude-oil well from which you will get aviation fuel, kerosene, diesel, grease, tar …it’s a very fantastic project.

Question: It’s a win-win-win.

Answer: Yes, for the current and future generation. With what Malam El-Rufai has put in place it’s our great grandchildren that should be thinking of the next water treatment plant. El- Rufai is bequeathing a legacy project to the future generation. We are optimistic that with the successes recorded in Zaria, where the jinx of over 40 years was broken and the project executed within time frame, within budget and with savings.

Question: Yes I’m surprised about that….how much was it? 

Answer. We made a savings of 31 million dollars which the governor has deployed to transmit water to Soba. Then State Procurement Monitoring Council has given a no objection, same with the African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. The kaduna State Government deserves commendation to have achieved this feat ….in Nigeria projects suffer delay and abandonment etc but this was completed within budget, with savings without compromising quality or scope. This has boosted our credit potentials and technical respect among our peers, in fact if I may add, the Zaria water supply expansion and sanitation projects is considered one of the success stories of the African Development and the Islamic Development Bank. 

Question: So how does Zaria stand now?

Answer: It’s completed, but after the project new settlements have emerged, the city keeps growing so there are new areas that need to be connected, because they were not part of the original design. The challenge apart from the areas that hitherto don’t exist was the issue of water treatment chemicals but the governor has approved 420 million Naira which was paid and the supply has commenced. We now have a stock that can take us well into the last quarter of the year.

Question: But it’s is scandalous that it is only after 33 years that a new dam and a new treatment plant is being conceived for Kaduna metropolis. …with this sad experience when next do you think Kaduna State Government should start planning for another water treatment plant and dam?

Answer: We should start planning immediately but implementation should be around 2050 …that’s 30 years from now. But it’s important that people pay their bills so that the corporation can recover cost. The recovered cost would be used to improve the system, to recruit young talents. We should also identify the new settlements, the new challenges the gaps that the current one cannot cover then we start planning how to remedy….because water security is very fundamental just like food security, it is the driver of food security, you cannot cultivate without water.

Question: So what is your message to the younger generation, especially those of them that will find themselves in government ? 

Answer: They should be engaged in futuristic agenda-setting…they should think of the next 5-year start planning and then implementation in the next 20 to 25. We need to get our leadership right, leaders with competence, with vision, with courage, with what the Sunday Trust  Sonala Olumhense described as “boldness of vision and the courage to pursue it against all odds”, that’s the kind of leaders we need.

Question: Considering the sad experience where the stakeholders become problematic, what are you going to do in terms of ensuring that you carry every stakeholder along in the dam construction?  

Answer: One of the key Pillars in driving any policy is consensus …especially at government level. In kaduna state the principal governance paradigm is putting people first, so when you put people first the tool is community engagement, stakeholder’s engagement …. in every single you must carry the stakeholders along. Secondly, you must be professional, if you need an engineer, hire one, if you need an economist or a mass communicator, don’t go and bring a quack. So, to achieve result recruitment into the project team would be based on merit.