Lashed by insecurity and devoid of drinking water. That is the story of Pulka, a community in Borno state. SADIQ ABUBAKAR reports that the only source of water for the community is over-stretched.
Drinking, which is essential to human beings, animals as well as plants, has become very expensive and a rare commodity in Pulka town located about 15 kilometres from Gwoza town of Gwoza LGA of Borno state. It is also about 45 kilometres from Bama town of Bama LGA of the state.
Pulka is located in the middle of Sambisa Forest and along the Maiduguri-Mubi-Yola highway. It is an agrarian area that produces lot of food items including groceries despite its location because of the Gwoza Hill that surrounds the area down to Ngoshe, Wala I and Wala II as well as Gwoza town and Mandara, among others.
The town also serves as centre of livestock revenue generation for both the state and local governments on a weekly basis with humid environment and organised traditional institution like Bulama, Lawan and Ajiya despite the lingering interim conflicts over the ruler-ship of Lawan which is yet to be resolved.
With a population of over 30,000 people including the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from neighbouring towns and villages displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents, Pulka houses not only IDPs but also the military, hence a military task force is located in the town to provide security in addition to the vigilante CJTF and hunters as well as other security agents which provide security to lives and property of the citizens.
However, a visit to this town indicates that the entire residents and IDPs are critically exposed to severe hardship and suffering in terms of water supply.
The only available sources of water supply is over-stretched, thereby getting drinking water on a daily basis has become difficult as residents are in dire need of drinking water to survive apart from raising animals and plants survival.
Investigation by Blueprint shows that there are no wells, functional and regular boreholes except for one opened for a certain period of the day and put off till another time.
Eye witness accounts
A resident, Habu Mamman said, “As you can see, there is a borehole at the abandoned and destroyed quarry company, located beside the Gwoza Hills and we have spoken to the military who know the degree of our sufferings in terms of water supply to allow us fetch water from the borehole.
“Even the military themselves do go and get water there too, but it is only the female and children that are allowed to go there and fetch water. The adults and youths are restricted due to security reasons in order to keep us safe from Boko Haram invasion and attacks, ” Mamman said.
An IDP from Ngoshe behind the hill, Asabe Umar said, “We have been here for long. I should think over two years since we ran away from our homes down to Pulka town to live with our relations.
“We live in peace here with the security agents available but livelihood here is terrible. No water to drink or cook neither to bath. Water has become a scarce commodity for us to get. We have to be queueing daily from morning till noon and evening sometimes to get water with our Jerry cans from the only borehole that is functional in Pulka town.
“Some people even end up not getting the water for a day or two. Some have to share with neighbours pending when the other will get the water. This is done on a daily basis because even they open the borehole. It is not everybody that gets the water,” Asabe said.
On his part, Alhaji Adamu Pulka, a trader said, “We are even used to it now as the centre cannot hold for us. We the poor and helpless voters as our representatives can no longer come to our aid except during electioneering campaigns. We see them around spreading money, food items and relief materials to residents and IDPs for election purposes.
“And the moment we vote them or they are elected, we don’t see them again at all until the next election period, that is, after four years when their tenure expires. Then they will still come again with lot of pledges, making series of promises and apologies and the past will repeat itself. None of them will drill any borehole or sink any well for us despite the fact that they know our problem is water supply,” Adamu said.
A resident of Pulka and staff of Gwoza council, Mohammed Abubakar said, “This is how we are surviving here in Pulka and other places n Gwoza axis where we have a senator representing Southern Borno from Gwoza town.
“We also have a House of Representatives member from Gwoza representing Gwoza, Dambia and Chibok Federal Constituency at the National Assembly who is also a native of Gwoza.
“Similarly, we have a native and an indigene of Gwoza as member of the state House of Assembly apart from the LGC chairman who is being nominated every six months by the governor from Gwoza despite the fact that apart from a ward councillor who is also being nominated into the LGC caretaker committee every six months from Puka to represent us.
“But with all these people from Gwoza and Pulka among other surrounding villages and towns, we still lack drinking water, a development that has become an order of the day despite cries without remedy.
“Nobody listens and comes to our aid. We are left alone to continue to suffer. That is why at times when the politicians come around, our aggrieved youths and children used to shout at them or throw stones at them and their vehicles out of annoyance,” Mohammed said.
Investigation revealed that the challenges of provision of water to the residents of Pulka town is similar to other areas around the Gwoza axis and Bama in terms of insecurity from the Boko Haram insurgents and other forms of attacks.
The issue of soil texture and rocky surface of the land has been identified as one of the challenges that has been giving the government both at the state and local governments levels the difficulty to drill boreholes in the town and surrounding areas as such works are very expensive and require special drilling machines and engines to drill boreholes.