Residents of Gusau, Zamfara State capital, have begun fleeing the city, following acute water scarcity, settling wherever the resource was available. An investigation conducted by Vanguard revealed that many people, including women and children, trek very long distances from around 3a.m., daily in search of water as many cannot afford to buy from water vendors.
As a result, many students and pupils hardly go to school as they spend most of their productive hours searching for ponds and wells where they could fetch water. Civil servants have also been affected by the problem; they now stay away from work in search of water.
Mallam Musa Lawali, a vulcanizer, said: “My job requires use of water, but I cannot even get for my consumption and this is making me contemplate relocation, as some of my colleagues in the self-employed businesses did, to where government provides water.”
Vendors ‘re king Meanwhile, water vendors are now making brisk business from the hardship faced by the people as a 25-litre jerry can of water, which used to cost between N10 and N15, now sells for between N80 and N100, depending on the distance between where the vendor sourced the commodity and the point of sale. This has also forced people to fetch water from several unsafe alternative sources, such as ponds.
Speaking on the situation, an environmentalist, Mallam Muhammad Murtala, cautioned people to avoid using contaminated water since it contained many deadly diseases, which could cause cholera and lead to death as was the case last year. He said the use of the contaminated water was a threat to the lives of the people, especially pregnant women and children and advised that they boil such water very well before consumption.
Speaking on the matter, the state Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magaji, said the problem was caused by sand, which had taken over the dam, the major source of water in the city. He, however, said the state government had awarded contract to a reputable company to de-silt the dam to make it deeper and more efficient.