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The African prince who hunts leaks in London

Friday 14th February 2020 12:00

Akeem sitting in his van

He's a real-life African prince who spends his day hunting leaks for Thames Water in London.

Akeem Adenuga comes from the Nigerian state of Lagos where his brother, King Asunmo Aderibigbe Adenuga, is The Paramount Ruler of Odo-Ayandelu.

In 1994 Akeem took a break from his royal duties to study in the UK. He had planned to return home but fell in love with England and became a trainee leakage technician at Thames Water in 2000 where he’s worked ever since.

Reducing leakage is a top priority for Thames Water, and Akeem now runs a team of 24 engineers who use the latest technology to find and fix hidden underground leaks across London.

The company is now uncovering a record number of leaks, with more than 70,000 repaired in the last financial year. It is spending more than £1 million a day to help reduce leaks on an underground network of pipes that’s almost long enough to circle the Earth.

Recent successes include plugging a leak that was losing three million litres a day in Guildford Street, near Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Akeem, a married dad-of-five and a huge Arsenal fan, said: “I really look forward to coming to work, and I’m always raring to go out and get stuck into work in the streets of the capital. I love my job, and the people I work with really make it special. That’s why it’s so important to me that I look after my team – health and safety is my top priority. It gives me joy every day when they all get home safely.” Paragraph: Danny Leamon, Thames Water’s head of water networks, said: “We have dozens of teams working around the clock to find and fix an average of around 1,400 leaky pipes every week right across our region. We’re determined to drastically reduce the amount of water that escapes from our pipe network to help protect customer supplies and the environment for now and future generations.” Paragraph: Despite having moved away from Nigeria, Akeem remains deeply connected to his home town of Agbowa-Ikosi. In 2017 he and five friends donated $25,000 for an ambulance to take patients to the nearest hospital an hour away. Paragraph: Akeem said: “As a prince back home, my family gets a wonderful welcome every time we visit. But I always remember the advice my late father gave me many years ago – be humble, kind and productive. That’s a really good way to live and has always carried me through.”