If a tap is left to run for a day, how much water will flow if two litres flow every one minute? Multiply your answer by 30; that’s enough water to make a river. Significant amounts of treated water is lost yearly as a result of such leakages and this is sad for a developing country that still suffers from water scarcity in the heart of the capital city.
This picture was taken on 9th August 2012 in the campus of the University of Yaounde I and from what eyewitnesses said, the tap had been broken for over three weeks. How this leakage has escaped the notice of the occupants of the offices around is still a mystery. Yet life goes on there as if nothing is wrong. What’s the job description of a handyman and why have his services not been used? The irony of it all is that the broken tap is found in one of the country’s mother Universities. This institution is supposed to serve as one of the country’s windows to the world.
We live in a country where access to potable water is yet to be a reality in both urban and rural areas. According to a 2011 survey in 20 suburbs in Yaounde by H.B. Nguendo Yongsi (Access and Management of Drinking Water in Developing Cities), “only 20% of households have direct access to pipe-borne water network(s).” As such, most households have resorted to available alternatives like public taps, springs and wells.
The management of utilities made available at our disposal has proven to be a tough task for us. It’s not uncommon to see dilapidated structures and distribution systems in dire need of rehabilitation. The major reason for managerial shortcomings comes from the fact that there’s little or no accountability particularly in state institutions. As accountability sinks, it takes along responsibility.
Also, our notion of collective owners or of public goods has encouraged pilferage and misuse. As long as the consequences are not felt directly, a leaking pipe can be ignored for a week or more especially if there are people collecting water from this unorthodox source.
At the end of the day, taxpayers’ money will be used to settle bills for water that wasn’t used. No one will be questioned and no one will raise a brow when he/she realises that there has been an unusual consumption level.