Please click on each of the questions below to reveal the answer.
What Is The Port Harcourt Water Supply Project?
The Port-Harcourt Water Supply Project is the first phase of the rehabilitation of the old Port-Harcourt Water Supply system and its extension to new areas in the city. It involves the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Rumuola Mega Station increasing its current production capacity from 50,000m3/day to 187,000m3/day. It also includes the rehabilitation of the existing pumping stations at Diobu, Moscow, Borokiri, Trans Amadi, Abuloma, Woji and Elelenwon to receive bulk water from Rumuola for distribution to the residents in the surrounding areas. Of the 195km network in Port-Harcourt, only 10 km is currently useable.
Other works to be carried out include the provision of adequate and dedicated power supply; rehabilitation of pump houses and other buildings as well as external works such as the internal roads at Rumuola mega station.
When Will The Project Commence?
This first phase is expected to commence in 2015 for a five (5) year period.
Will It Cover The Entire City of Port-Harcourt?
The areas to be covered in this first phase are Borokiri, Old Port-Harcourt Township, Diobu, Rumuola, Trans Amadi, Abuloma, Woji and Elelenwon.
How Many People Will Benefit From The Project, Will There Be A Fair Spread of the Project’s Impact?
Upon completion, the Project shall provide access to improved and sustainable water supply to 1.5 million people. The beneficiary areas were selected based on a needs assessment – the strategy was to provide for densely populated areas with very high water stress where the project impact would be most felt.
How Will the Project Be Financed And At What Cost?
The Project shall be financed through long-term development funds secured by the Rivers State Government from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank (WB) after meeting several criteria set by both Banks prior to negotiations and approvals by their Boards obtained in April, 2014.
The project is estimated to cost USD 328 million, of which AfDB is financing USD 200 million or 61%; the WB is financing USD 80 million or 24% and the State Government providing USD 48 million or 15% as counterpart funding for the project.
Why Do We Need To Get A Loan For This Project Especially When Most People Have Resorted To Self-Help?
The huge financial outlay required for the project necessitated the need for the State Government to source long-term affordable finance for its implementation. Most people who have private boreholes still depend on bottled water and satchet water for drinking as most of the private boreholes are not treated. A large population of the people in the beneficiary areas do not have private boreholes due to the dense population of their localities which prevent the construction of boreholes e.g. yards in Diobu, Town and saline (saltwater)’ intrusion in most parts of Borokiri thus their dependence on private water vendors.
How Many Years Will It Take To Repay The Loan And At What Interest Rate?
The African Development Bank loan tenure is 20 years with a 5 year grace period commencing on the date of the loan agreement signing at an interest rate not exceeding 3%, while the World Bank component is to be repaid in 25 years with a 5 year grace period at an interest rate of 1.5%.
What is the role of the Federal Government in this Project?
The Federal Government is the Borrower on behalf of the Rivers State Government. They also act as a guarantor for the loan. They then on-lend the entire loan amount to the State Government through the signing of a Subsidiary Loan Agreement with the State.
What measures will be put in place to ensure the sustainability of the Project beyond this administration which is already on its way out?
The project is a five-year project and has taken all factors into consideration in its preparation and design. The Port-Harcourt Water Corporation was established by the Water Sector Development Law in 2012 to be a modern utility responsible for water supply in Port-Harcourt and Obio-Akpor LGAs which are the core urban center in the State. This institution shall ensure cost recovery for the operation and maintenance of its system to ensure continuous provision of the service to the residents. The Regulatory Commission shall also ensure that agreed service levels/standards are maintained.
How would Government achieve laying of pipes both in old and new areas of Port-Harcourt as the city is already built up?
A feasibility study and detailed engineering design has already been completed for the entire urban center with a 30-year horizon. This design took into consideration the built up areas as well and carefully designed the pipeline routes to ensure minimal impact on existing infrastructure in the built up areas.
What happens to the homes that already have boreholes which is treated?
Homes will be encouraged to connect to the supply from the Corporation once service has been provided in their area as this is a more cheaper option than what is required to run their boreholes in addition to the cost of buying water that they drink.
The law also stipulates the requirement for a flat rate charge for all residents as long as the service has been provided them.
Why is this Project coming so late, are we sure it is not another political game?
The process for the preparation of the project and final securing of the finance for this project started in late 2011 following the completion of the new design for the city. The process involved several meetings (technical and non-technical) with the development partners and missions to the State by the partners to assess the various Government institutions and processes in order to determine the suitability of the project and the State’s eligibility for the loan. It also involved several meetings with stakeholders to seek their views on the relevance of the project.
It is important to add that the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Program funded by the World Bank was keenly contested by other States in the Federation and Rivers State was included as one of the beneficiary States based on the advanced stages of our water sector reforms and Government’s perceived political will.
What happens if the next Government does not key into this Project; considering the fact that politicians always prefer to start new projects once they get voted into power?
The project has been designed in such a way that it shall be implemented irrespective of the Government in power. The project has been prepared based on the first phase of the design and the loan agreement and other documentations show the same. The project log frame shall be adhered to as strictly as possible for the next five years.
What will be the water rate/charges and will it be billing on consumption or flat rate? How are we sure the public will not be over billed?
The water rate shall cover the cost of operations and maintenance, it shall also include as small cost that shall ensure future expansion of the service to unreached areas. The Water Services Regulatory Commission shall set the guideline for rate-setting and shall also approve rates proposed by the utility. With the pre-paid meters proposed in this project; customers would only be billed based on their consumptions.
How would Government control and monitor the rates that are being set for the public so that it is fair?
The Rivers State Water Services Regulatory Commission has been established in 2012 as part of the reforms to ensure a fair and balanced regulation of the sector. They shall set the guidelines for water rate setting and approve the same following a stakeholder meeting on the proposed rates. They shall also consider pro-poor tariffs and ensure that all classes of users can afford the rates being proposed for them.
Will customers pay for the pipes, taps and installation?
Customers shall pay a fee to be connected to the line which will be close enough to their houses in the beneficiary areas. They shall also be responsible for the plumbing works within their own homes where they do not already exist.
How safe and reliable is the water from the Government?
The water to be provided shall meet the highest international standards (in construction of infrastructure and quality of water supplied) under the supervision of the PHWC, African Development Bank and the World Bank. The supply shall also be regular and reliable.
How are we sure that the Rivers State Water Board can handle a project of this magnitude?
The Rivers State Water Board no longer exists as the edict establishing it has been repealed by the new Water Sector Development Law No. 7 of 2012. The reforms in the sector sought to address the institutional challenges we met in the sector to promote efficient and effective service delivery that focuses on the customer. The Port-Harcourt Water Corporation was established to be an autonomous Corporation responsible for the provision of safe, adequate and affordable water supply services focusing on the residents of Port-Harcourt and Obio-Akpor LGAs which make up the core urban center in the State. It shall run as a commercially viable organization that is customer oriented while maintaining efficiency for sustainability.
Apart from infrastructure, the project shall focus also on utility reforms that shall strengthen PHWC with skills and tools necessary to ensure service delivery in line with international best practice.
Will water for domestic use and commercial use be charged the same rate; will highbrow areas (GRA/Estates) pay the same rate as low income areas (Diobu/Town)?
No, the rates for commercial and domestic uses will not be the same. Also the pro-poor tariff study to be conducted as part of the project shall help in ensuring that correct subsidies are applied to make the water affordable for all classes of customers.
What will happen to people living in yards, will it be a flat rate for the compound?
Flat rates will not be applied. Where it is not feasible to meter people separately, yards shall have metered water kiosks provided which shall enable residents fetch water for their consumption using a pre-paid water token which charges them only for the quantity of water they have fetched.
What plans has government put in place to deal with water vendors and others who currently sell water in their homes to prevent them from sabotaging this new system?
During the preparation of this project, the water vendors (mai ruwa) have been involved in the various stakeholder’s workshops we have held to sensitize them on the new water system and get their buy-in as stakeholders in the sector. They shall be involved
What plans are in place for new layout areas that never had water in the past will they benefit from the Project?
Yes they will, if the areas fall within the current project area.
What about the waterfronts that have very large low income populations, will they benefit from this project?
The waterfronts were not initially included in the project, but following their active representation at one of our stakeholder’s workshop organized with the support of our development partners; those that fall within the current project area shall be provided with water and public sanitation facilities to improve their well being.
What measure will Government take to ensure homes are not billed unjustly as in the case of the PHED when people pay for electricity they do not consume?
The inclusion of pre-paid meters shall ensure that there are no estimated bills and customers are charged as per their usage.
The Regulatory Commission is also there to act as an arbitrator and protect the interest of the customers where such an issue arises.
Did Government bother to ask Rivers people what they wanted, before going to take a loan of this magnitude for water that they already have?
As part of the project preparation, several stakeholders workshops and meetings were conducted by the development partners especially the African Development Bank to ascertain the relevance of the project. The feedback for the project was strongly in favour of the project especially by those who cannot afford water in their private homes and often rely on water vendors the water of which quality they say is often compromised. The stakeholders include market women associations, community development communities, water vendors and youth groups within the current project area as well as civil society organisations active in the sector, representatives of other Federal and State Government MDAs as well as representatives of the beneficiary LGAs.
How can we trust that this is not another of Government’s political games.
The Government is committed in its resolve to find a lasting solution to the problem of water supply in the State. This project has been well prepared and as stated earlier the process commenced several years ago though its implementation shall fall within the election year. It is not a political game and with the support of all people resident in the project area; we shall achieve this great feat!
How affordable is this water?
From the stakeholder’s workshops conducted by the Ministry and the development partners, it was observed that people currently pay as much as N400 daily for water they consume and in some cases, they pay a little more for drinking water in satchets or bottles as the case may be. In 30 days, this amounts to about N12,000 per household. The rates to be charged would be well designed to cover the cost of operations and maintenance of the system as well as a small profit margin for the Corporation to enable them expand the service to unserved areas. The newly established Water Services Regulatory Commission shall provide the guidelines for setting of tariffs and approve same for the Corporation after due stakeholders engagement. Tariffs will not be imposed on the people.
What about illegal connections, how does Government intend to tackle this issue?
The PHWC needs the support of all well-meaning Rivers people to identify and report all illegal connections in addition to the systems they shall put in place to address this. There are strict penalties for illegal connections apart from disconnecting them entirely from the system.
Will this really work? Has it worked in this country before?
It will work, the Rivers State Government has demonstrated strong political will to reform the sector enabling the State to be selected along with two other States for the World Bank intervention. States like Cross River, Enugu, Kaduna to mention a few are States who have benefitted from this program and have running water in their urban cities.
What is the benefit of this project to the common man who earns daily as this Project sounds too complex?
A unit dedicated to this category of customers shall be established within the PHWC to meet their specific needs. As indicated earlier, the water to be provided shall be available to all classes of residents in areas covered by the project. The options to be adopted for this class of customers would be dependent on the outcome of the pro-poor studies to be conducted as part of this project.
What is in it for the private sector?
The Private sector shall be encouraged to play an active role in the sector to meet current demands. As a corporation, we see Public Private Partnership (PPP)’s as a solution to address socio-economic change. As part of this project a PPP study was undertaken to determine and establish the sustainability of the investment in infrastructure and service in long term.