Two potable water projects in the towns of Battu and Kofele have become operational this month. The projects, which were financed by the Oromia Water, Mineral & Energy Bureau (OWMEB), are pumping water to over 200,000 residents.
The Battu Potable Water Project cost over 400 million Br and provides water to 155,500 residents in the towns of Battu, Adami Tulu and Tufa Minch. The other is the Kofele project, which will fulfil the potable water needs of 52,345 residents of the town, and its surrounding areas, for a cost to the Bureau of 86 million Br.
Both Battu and Kofele projects, located in towns that are 175Km and 275Km from Addis Abeba, respectively, were begun half a decade ago and were expected to be operational within a year to two years.
“Failure to acquire the necessary electromechanical materials from abroad, due to lack of forex is one of the reasons for the delay,” said Gurmessa Oljira, director of contract administration and construction at the Bureau, for the projects that have a lifespan of a couple of decades.
The Battu project has a reservoir capacity of 2,000 cubic metres and can pump 180 cubic metres of water an hour. The Kofele one is capable of storing a combined 1,300 cubic metres of water in its reservoir and pumping 92 cubic metres of it within an hour.
The projects likewise have different contractors. Gashaw Banti Water Works & Building Contractor was responsible for the construction of the Battu project. Established almost a decade ago, the Company has engaged in various water projects such as in the town of Chancho, and for a sewerage line in Bole Arabsa condominium site. The electromechanical work, on the other hand, was carried out by EMU General Importer Plc, which was established two decades ago.
The Kofele project’s contractor, for both the civil and electromechanical works, was Alemayehu Tefera Water Works General Contractor, which was established early this decade and has engaged in water-related projects at West Shoa, Gojo town and Illubabur zone.
Both companies had the same consultant – the Oromia Water Works Design & Supervision Enterprise. Established in 2006, the enterprise has undertaken the study and design of medium to mega-scale development projects.
The consultant’s contract administration and construction supervisor manager, Tofik Sabit, attributes the delay to some issues.
“Relocating of people, capacity problems of the contractors, and inadequate provision of pipe fittings took too much time,” said Tofik.
Residents inside Battu used to get their water from the lake of the same name, while people in Kofele made do with water wells in the town. For the latter, the Bureau saw it best to realise the water project by designing two deep-water wells with a capacity of 12 cubic metres and 14 cubic metres, from which water will be pumped to reservoirs.
The Battu water project sources water from Bulbula, Tufa spring, located 48Km from Battu town. The water will be pumped through 50Km long water pipes to the reservoir, according to Gurmesa.
These will not be the only water projects in the Oromia Regional State. The Bureau has allocated 1.7 billion Br for the current fiscal year, less by a billion Birr from the previous one, for the construction of similar water projects.
Such projects are expected to close the supply and demand gap of potable water in the region. At the moment, under 60pc of Oromia’s residents get clean water, which the region hopes to raise by nine percentage points this fiscal year, according to Gurmessa.
But half-year reports do not seem encouraging. Although the Bureau had targeted to ensure that more than two million urban and rural residents of the region have access to potable water within the first half of the current fiscal year, its success rate has been under 50pc.
It provided water to 986,000 people, accomplishing 308 large and medium water projects, and 360 minor community assisted waterworks such as spring expansion as well as hand-dug and shallow wells.
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