In terms of infrastructural development, Burutu, the headquarters of Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State is an eye sore. Our Warri Correspondent, CHRIS ERIYAMREMU, who visited the place sent in this report.
Burutu town is the headquarters of Burutu Local Government area of Delta State. The town, being a headquarters of the local government, is one the most under developed towns in Delta State. Evidently, it is obvious that past administrations of the council could not do enough to develop the community and several other communities in the local government area.
Despite federal government’s monthly allocations accruing to the council over the years, there is nothing on ground to reflect the level of finance accrued to the area at the end of each month in past 16 years. Burutu, the council headquarters, has no road, light and drinking water. Residents in the community often drink polluted water which has consistently caused outbreak of cholera among innocent children and women.
More worrisome is the obvious fact that the community has no toilets, thereby compelling the people to defecate into the only source of their drinking water: the stream. They drink the polluted water, a situation presently threatening the health of the people.
When Nigerian Pilot visited the community, residents of the area who are mostly small scale farmers and fisher men live in abject poverty and penury. They battle with the challenges of oil spills on their waterways and farms while others live miles away from the attention of their elected representatives in the council, state and federal levels.
When our correspondent visited the place, some of the residents were seen defecating in makeshift toilets built by the council authority along the riverbanks. Apart from Burutu community, other towns in the council areas such as Ojobo, Ofougbene, Ogbogbabene, Burutu, Okpokunu, Ebeberegbene and Opuapele all in Burutu LGA, suffer the same fate. Residents of these communities also defecate in the same river they drink water from.
Along the riverbank of some of these communities, makeshift zinc toilets serve as rest room for adults while children perch on local canoes to answer the call of nature whenever the need arises.
A resident in the area who spoke to our correspondent said a former council chairman, Hon. Moses Agadabiri, built one of the structures while the second one was built by the executive council of the Burutu Market Committee. He said the residents get their drinking water from the rain or the river, while few others get their drinking water from Warri.
“Residents of Burutu community get water from Warri or the rain and that’s if it rains. Those who are unable to afford water from Warri, are faced with the alternative of getting drinking water from the sea were they defecate”. According to him “we use ‘alum’ to purify the water. Though the river water in some of these communities including Ojobo has a high level of salinity”.
Another female resident lamented the non development of the community, especially the non availability of potable drinking water. She said, “myself at 53 years old, I do paddle to the middle of the river to fetch water for drinking, and after that, I use ‘alum’ to purify the water after which I filters the dirt and store for drinking.”
According to her, past chairmen of Burutu council failed to address these critical problems confronting the people of Burutu community. They came and pursued their personal interests without putting into consideration on how to provide electricity and water for the people.
She said “we risk our health daily by drinking from the polluted water. We are often being treated of cholera, typhoid and schistosomiasis as a result of the polluted water that we consume on a daily basis”, she said. Meanwhile, a medical doctor who spoke in confidence said “These waters have a high level of organic materials and are diseases-infected, hence as medical experts, we have consistently preached against its consumption. But the people still go back to it as a result of what we think is ignorance and poverty.”
However, when Nigerian Pilot contacted the present chairman of Burutu council, Chief Ebikeme Clark, he said “I’m very much aware of these challenges in Burutu, and since I assumed office, I have been discussing with some interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC, on the urgent need to build shore-protection, water system and provide electricity in Burutu community”.
Ebikeme, who is the son of Ijaw foremost leader, Chief E.K. Clark, said “I came into office when oil price has dropped drastically, and with the meager monthly allocation, there is no way we can embark on such projects after paying workers their salaries”. He lamented that after paying workers their salaries, there is nothing left to execute projects. He however, noted that Burutu council does not owe its workers salary till date.
According to him, when oil price was high, past administrations could have provided potable drinking water system, electricity and other social amenities, and now that the oil price has fallen, he should not be blamed because the funds are not there to execute such projects almost immediately.
Ebikeme pointed out that Burutu town is the only council headquarters in Nigeria that is not motorable, has no electricity and potable water, adding that officials often go by boat transportation, which is more expensive.
“Despite the meager federal monthly allocation to Burutu, I ensured that workers are paid up to date and as you can see, Burutu workers are not presently on strike like other local governments officials who have been on strike over unpaid salaries. After paying workers their salaries, there is nothing left to execute any meaningful projects”.
He however, assured his commitment and willingness to sacrifice to the development of the council, particularly the development of Burutu town. “What I need is the supports and cooperation of our people, they should understand the present financial crisis in the country due to the fall of oil price, my mission is to serve my people effectively, contribute my own quota and leave behind an indelible legacy.
Ebikeme said his administration would continue to reach out to other relevant government agencies to attract some of the lacking amenities to the council, promising that he would embark on more projects soon as the oil price eventually rises again, then he would have more funds to develop the area.