I witnessed a sadly funny thing the year the Lagos Marathon began.
On my way home on the Friday just before the maiden Lagos marathon was held I saw a team of marathon branded buses patrolling the bus stop close to my house, with some volunteer team members wearing branded vests. They were talking with guys from the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), you know how you have to “settle” everybody before doing anything in this our country.
Saturday morning came for the marathon, I was out early because I had to get to the newspaper vendor at that same bus stop. I saw people carrying packs of Aquafina table water, not carrying, running with the packs of water like they were stealing it and didn’t want the owner to come and catch them. I didn’t think anything of it, because unbelievable things happen in Lagos every day, so what? I went to my vendor; it was while I was there that my head clicked. One of the sponsors of the marathon was Aquafina; are these people taking water meant for athletes?
I looked up and they were still carrying water. A police patrol van was there, I can’t recall seeing any policeman inside, but if a van is there, policemen must be around. The NURTW guys were there, it was a free for all. The vendor lady seemed to hear my thoughts and she said, “People don go five times, still dey carry, dem say na Lagos donate the water.”
What? Lagos donated water?
“Na wetin I hear this morning o, I no know who talk am but everybody dey carry water go house.”
Mothers and their children carried water, traders along the road, some okada riders joined in, and nobody bothered them.
The desperation with which they carried the water was the sad part. Some of them were probably going to sell the water.
How come Lagos is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and there’s really no clean water to drink? We have normalised drinking table water in our homes.
We buy Cway bottles, plastic bottles and those who cannot afford those buy satchet water. There are only a handful of people in this Lagos who can open their taps and drink the water from their own boreholes; the water from the Lagos State Water Board is a joke. It is not always available, and when it is, the water is far from colourless. It is no wonder the “normal” ailment in Nigeria is malaria and typhoid.
Apart from drinking water, what about water to do laundry, for the kitchen, bathrooms? Once there’s no light for less than 48 hours we start buying water from water vendors. It is not just Lagos, apart from states in the Niger Delta, water is scarce almost everywhere else, except during the rainy seasons when people use rain water.
We know providing electricity is now rocket science, is water also rocket science? Is it really difficult for Lagos State to provide clean water for Lagosians?
Until we can get clean water in this city, I join all those who got the free water to thank the governor for dashing them clean water.
Tenkiu you, sir
We are grateful.