Joint Federation of Water Consumers Association in Rivers says the EU has threatened the suspension of Niger Delta Support Programme for water if the State fails to meet its obligation on Aug. 31.
Mr Iwarimieye Diri, the Chairman, Joint Federation of Water Consumers Association of Opobo/Nkoro and Akuku-Toru local government areas, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.
Diri said that the EU’s threat could lead to the suspension of the water projects in six Rivers communities if the State did not pay the counterpart fund for the programme.
Diri said that the EU had sent an email to the association and to the Rivers government to pay the remaining 50 per cent of the state’s counterpart fund, failing to do so would result to the suspension.
He said that Gov. Nyesom Wike had earlier approved the payment but it was yet to receive financial backing.
“On several occasions, the time given by the EU for the payment had elapsed but we have always asked for extension of time and it graciously extended the time for us against their practice.
“They had to send people to go and find out in the communities if our presentation to them is true that the communities need water.
“And with the level of work we have done in these communities, the EU is satisfied with our commitment to get this water and to grant us time extension, if we can quickly meet up with our obligations,” he said.
According to Diri, the EU launched the tender for contractors to bid based on verbal assurances it received from the Rivers government that the fund will be in a dedicated account on July 24.
“We caused EU to come to Rivers without the 100 per cent payment to launch the tender, hold meetings with prospective contractors and guided the contractors on what is demanded of them.
“The EU delegation has also followed us to the communities in the two LGAs to see the level of preparedness and commitment for commencement of the water programme.
“We have made commitment, sacrifices and taken a lot of risk traversing the creeks and now the danger is quite inherent that we are about losing what we started since 2014,” he said.
The chairman urged Wike not to let the international community perceive him as a leader whose words could not be taken seriously because he had assured them of paying the balance.
Mr Christopher Fibresima, the Secretary of the association pleaded with the Rivers governor to ensure that efforts made by the state and communities were not in vain.
Fibresima said that the tenders were to be opened on Sept. 5 and contractors had gone to site to look at what was on ground and the people “are very happy’’.
He said that the people had been drinking polluted water over the years and suffering from unknown sicknesses.
“It’s very unfortunate that it is only Rivers that is yet to pay its counterpart fund among states that this programme is slated for.
“It is the responsibility of government to provide basic amenities for the people, so we are pleading that the Rivers government pay the remaining 50 per cent of their contribution,” he said.
Fibresima said that the state government was to contribute 25 per cent of the total cost of the programme but had only paid N100 million which was 50 per cent.
The benefitting communities are Abonnema, Abissa and Kula in Akuku-Toru LGA and Opobo, Kalaibiama and Nkoro in Opbo/Nkoro LGA. (NAN)