Managing Director, Cross River State Water Board, Mr Victor Ekpo, says that N1.2 billion debt being owed the utility company by customers have affected its service delivery to the people.
Ekpo, who stated this while addressing newsmen in Calabar yesterday, also spoke on a wide range of issues affecting the water corporation and his plans to resuscitate the organisation.
Noting that the debt covered between January 2020 and March 2021, he said it had made it impossible to replace broken down pipes, fix the generating sets and buy chemicals for water treatment.
The Managing Director, however, expressed regrets that prominent citizens of the State, particularly politicians, formed the major people that were indebted to the board.
He stressed that since the debtors refused to pay in spite of several persuasive means, the corporation would adopt the option of publishing their names to compel them to pay.
Ekpo, who advocated for the outright privatisation of the board, said its revenue profile plummeted from about N50 million in 2007 to less than N1 million at the time he took over in January 2020.
“My first discovery here is the corruption in the board. Some of the staff turned the place to money-making ventures for themselves.
“While some of them created a means of collecting revenue to their personal account, others engaged in vandalism of key components of the board’s generating sets and stealing pipes.
“Infact, many of the staff attitude to work was not something that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the board to service delivery.
“Or how do you explain a situation where a staff procured her own PoS and started collecting and channelling revenue of the board to her personal account? asked Ekpo.
He, however, noted that in spite of the challenges he inherited, he had been able to raise the revenue to N9 million.
“I was able to achieve this from a near comatose state I met the water board.
“More can be achieved if we get the cooperation of our customers and staff who have resorted to vandalism of facilities of the board and some of our customers who bypass our meters.
“We also have challenges of huge electricity bill that amount to about N12 million monthly and the over N180 million electricity debt I inherited,” he said.
While noting that privatisation remained the best option for the Cross River Water Board, Ekpo assured that strategy had been made to ensure better service delivery to the people.
According to him, “We are surely going to come out stronger in the next few weeks. All, but one, of our nine stations, will start pumping water to the people.”
He said his target was to raise the revenue of the board to the level where it would start paying the N29 million of the staff monthly wage bill.
“I understand more people have resorted to sinking boreholes in their homes, but our water still remains the best. It is well teated for their safety,” he said.
Police Kill Five Suspected Kidnappers, Rescue Victim
Police operatives in Edo State have rescued one Innocent Achebe, 38, from a kidnappers den, killing five suspects in the process.
Achebe was rescued on Sunday in Ughosi-Afe bush in Ibilo, Akoko Edo Local Government Area of the State, where the victim was held in captivity for days.
This is contained in a statement by Deputy Public Relations Officer, Edo Police Command, ASP Jennifer Iwegbu, on Monday in Benin.
She said that the operation was part od the command’s commitment to rid the state of violent crime, including kidnapping.
“This feat was achieved following credible information at the command’s disposal that hoodlums suspected to be kidnappers were operating in Ughoshi- Afe bush, Ibillo in Akoko Edo LGA, Edo State.
“On receipt of the information, the command immediately mobilised its tactical team of operatives from the Ibillo sector in collaboration with vigilantes and hunters to the scene.
“The kidnappers on sighting the operatives opened fire on them which led to a gun duel that left five of the kidnappers fatally injured and were later confirmed dead,” Iwegbu said.
She added that the victim, who was rescued unhurt, had been reunited with his family.
The police spokesperson said two locally made pistols, charms and cartridges were recovered from the scene.
Iwegbu said the Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, commended the gallantry exhibited by the operatives and pledged that the command would work with relevant stakeholders and law-abiding citizens to secure the State.
Bayelsa Spends N3.52bn On Debt Service
Bayelsa State Government said it spent N3.52 billion on servicing its loan obligations to commercial banks for the month of May.
The Tide’s source reports that domestic debt stock data from the Debt Management Office for Bayelsa as of March 31, stood at N151.41 billion.
Technical Adviser to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Treasury Matters, Mr Timipre Seipulo, stated this while giving an update of the state’s income and expenditure profile for the months of May and June in Yenagoa.
According to the financial highlights, the state generated some N1.68 billion from internal sources in addition to a gross inflow of N22.86 billion from the federation account to make a total of N22.91 billion for May.
Of the amount, derivation revenue, a 13 per cent of value of crude oil produced within the state for May stood at N17.82 billion.
On the other hand, non oil revenue of N124.69 million accrued to the state for the month under review.
According to Seipulo, the state’s wage bill for civil servants and political appointees gulped N6.2 billion.
For the month of June, Bayelsa got N18.67 billion after deductions at source from the federation account.
Oil derivation accounted for N14.02 billion, while the internally generated revenue was N1.99 million.
The total wage bill for the month of June was N6.14 billion.
Delta Seals Gas Plant Over Student’s Death
The Delta Government sealed a gas plant over outbreak of seizure leading to the death of a student in a close-by school.
The gas plant closure followed the report of an emergency committee, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, officials of the Ministry of Health and the management of Mary Mount College.
It was recalled that on July 16, 10 students of Mary Mount College, near Handeskia Gas Plant in Boji-Boji, Agbor, were suspected to have showed signs of strange ailments and seizure due to gas emission.
One of the affected students died few weeks after her parents took her to the hospital.
Mr Godspower Asiuwhu, the state Commissioner for Environment, warned the gas company that stiffer sanctions would be meted on it, if the seal was broken.
“The activities of the company has posed ecological and health threat to students of Mary Mount College, Agbor, situated in the environs.
“The management of Handeskia Oil and Gas should desist from causing havoc to residents of the host community,” Asiuwhu said.
The commissioner frowned at the unruly behaviour of staff of the gas company, saying that the state government would not condone any attempt by the company to unseal the premises.
According to him, a task force will be set up to monitor activities of the gas company after it had been sealed to ensure they did not return back to business.
Also, Mr Victor Ebonka, the Chairman, Ika North East Local Government Area, said the council had earlier sealed the gas company twice, adding that they later went back to unseal the premises.
“Since the activities carried out by the company were endangering the lives of residents, there is every need to seal the gas company and put a stop to all their activities,” Ebonka said.
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