Water vendors as ‘kings’ in Abuja suburbs

Abuja City gate

Water scarcity is one of the major problems confronting resident of most Abuja suburbs giving rise to the infamous reign of local water vendors known as mai ruwa. TOPE SUNDAY in this report, captures how water vendors reign like ‘kings’ in some of the suburbs.

Residents of Jahi 1, Jahi 11 and Kado Kuchi, all in Jahi District of the FCT, like their counterparts in other suburbs of the city lack portable water supply.

The three communities are under the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

These communities can be easily accessed from anywhere in the FCT. They can be accessed through Next Cash and Carry on Kado road or from Katampe Junction along Gwarimpa-Kuwba Road.

The three communities, to a first-time visitor, would appear village-like but the availability of electricity and some sprawling structures that are springing up make them unique and a bit habitable for those who can’t afford house rent in areas high profile suburbs like Gwarinpa, Kado Estate, Katampe and other adjourning areas clos to the district.

Water palaver

Among the three communities, Jahi II, is the one that has partial problems with the pipe borne water. The two other communities, Jahi 1 and Kado Kuchi, are relatively enjoying pipe borne water but not connected to every home but through the mai ruwa one can get water at their door step.

Blueprint Weekend, however, learnt that serious efforts were made in Jahi 2 in the past to lay pipes that will connect water to the community. This effort was allegedly frustrated by some residents of the community.

A resident of the Jahi 2 community, Mohammed Kabir, who has been residing in the area for about 8 years, said some people in the community had once laid water pipes from Abuja Waters Board in Katampe to the community.

He alleged that the process was frustrated by some people who were threatened by the development, saying that they saw it as a way of stopping their brick water business.

“Sometime in 2016, efforts were made by some people in this community (Jahi II) to lay water pipes from the water board at Katampe to this area but this effort was frustrated by some people who vandalised those pipes and the process of supplying to our community was truncated.

“Though, the idea at that time was that every household would pay for what it consumes but the project did not see the light of the day because it was frustrated and later vandalised,” he said.

Borehole to the rescue

This medium can reliably report that the three communities rely heavily on mai ruwa for water supply and this service is rendered for a fee.

Another resident of the Jah 2 community, who simply identified himself as George and has been residing in the community for almost four years, told this medium that since he relocated to the area in 2014 borehole has been the sole source of water supply to the community.

He said he relies on borehole for water to cook and wash his clothes, while he buys satchel water for drinking.

“About 95 per cent of us who are residents of Jahi II are relying on boreholes for survival. In my own case, I use a borehole to cook and wash my clothes, but for drinking, I buy satchel water popularly called pure water.”

Another resident of Kado Kuchi, Moses Jeremiah, who said he had lived in the community for almost six years, said he has been relying on mai ruwa for water supply. He noted that the source of water supply for the water vendors could either be borehole or pipe borne water.

He said, “In the Kado Kuchi community, many of us rely on either borehole or pipe borne depending on what mai ruwa supplies which is what we use for our domestic chores including cooking and washing. However, we buy pure water for consumption. I learnt that some other people drink the water from the borehole.”

Water vendor as kings

Blueprint Weekend gathered that with special arrangements some buildings in the community have water running in their homes.

However, this is not the same with residents of other houses that have to look for water vendors every day for water supply.

With this development, this medium learnt that both the water suppliers and vendors are into brisk businesses.

In the three communities, our correspondent gathered that two gallons of water are sold for N50 by the water vendors but most times the supply is scarce due to rush hours.

One of the hawkers in Jahi 2, Aliyu Musa Mahmoud, who spoke to our correspondent through an interpreter, said he makes between N2,000 to N3,000 daily.

“Truly, the water business is lucrative here. People cannot live without water so we are always here to help them out with the commodity while we make our own money.

“Our customers cut across different classes. Some have boreholes in their homes, but when there is no power supply to pump water they turn to us. Some have water supply from the Water Board, but then there are times when the board will not give water for some time, maybe because of fault but we are always here to satisfy their water needs.

“There is also a group of customers who live far away from boreholes, so we’ll always be at their doorsteps to lend a helping hand.”

Speaking to our correspondent, another water vendor from Kado Kuchi/Jahi 1, Umar Abdullahi, said: “We are many in this business because the population of people in Kado Kuchi keeps increasing, so there is not much competition as we are not even enough to cover every building here.

“We buy at N10 per gallon and sell at N30, so the business is profitable. It is not costly to triple the price, as we take care of every inconvenience on your part.

“All you have to do is to show us where we can empty the water and relax while we do the job. Some of us have special customers whom we interact with on phone and fill their containers at amenable prices.”

Residents whine

A resident of the Kado Kuchi, Adefemi Olaoluwa, lamented that most times he has difficulty in dealing with the water vendors because of the language barrier.

Olaoluwa, decried the fact that most of them usually delayed supply because of their many customers.

He said: “Here in Kado Kuchi, borehole water is a bit scarce because it’s not reliable but we are glad that we have constant pipe borne supply.

“But our major problem is the way our vendors behave. They may delay for hours which usually affect my schedule.

“On the other hand, I also have difficulty dealing with the vendors because of the language barrier.”

Similarly, a Jahi 2 resident, Janet Babalola, told this medium that water vendors at the weekend increase their prices from the normal N50 for two gallons to N70.

She said they would, sometimes, request for the number of gallons their customers would buy before moving their trucks to their houses.