By Yakubu SALISU
FARMERS at Wanzamai Gezawa, Tsanyawa Local Government Area of Kano State have cried out over an abandoned Small Earth Dam constituency project in their community which started seven years ago but remains uncompleted to date, thereby exposing them to flood and erosion.
The project awarded by the HadejiaJama’are River Basin Development Authority presently lies in ruins despite gulping N192 million.
According to the Dry Season Farmers Association Chairman, Musa Majar who farms tomatoes, maize and onions, millions of naira is lost by his members due to the inability of authority and the contractor handling the project to complete the dam work.
He said the work, which has lasted seven years, has cut them off from their traditional means of getting water for irrigation which complement the rainwater supply for food production.
Things became difficult for the farmers after the site was cleared for the construction of the earth dam. He said only the spillway can be said to be the only Structure that can be seen related to a dam that has already been damaged causing erosion and flooding in the area.
Majar further stated that surprisingly, when the farmers tried to intervene to get the project completed, its members were informed that the project has been completed.
“ You can see for yourself, it is just a site cleared without any form of dredging that would hold water for the dry season farming activities when the rain comes thereby causing flood in the nearby farms and surrounding communities because the water has not been trapped in one place,” he added.
Suleman Hassan, another farmer in the area explained that the dry season farming is the only activity that prevents them from seasonal migration to the southern part of the country in search of menial jobs to feed their families.
He said lack of water for the continuation of irrigational farming has reduced his onion production from 30 bags to less than 10 bags as a result of the difficulty in sourcing and supplying water through the use of animals as they cannot afford the expenses of hiring the services of animal owners to supply them with gallons of water.
“We are villagers and farming is our source of livelihood. We don’t have any other thing to do so rather than stay idle. We still manage to practice what we are used to but a lot of our members have pulled out of the dry season farming because not everyone can afford it now”.
The Secretary, Wanzamai Dry Season Farmers Association, Abbas Abdullahi, in his reaction said the dam is more of an imagination to them than reality because what they are seeing is nothing near the normal dams they see in other places.
“What we know as a dam is a construction capable of trapping water for a long period of time.
What they did for us here as a dam is nothing more than clearing of the site and what we can call trench foundation and the SpillWay which you can see for yourself was poorly constructed and is already damaged even before the completion of the work.
We are afraid of what would happen when the water is trapped in one place because if the structure is breaking while under construction, that clearly shows it can withhold up the water when completed.
“We are calling on the HadejiaJama’are River Basin Development Authority and the Contractor to consider our plights and return to site to complete this project for us. It is unbelievable that such a project could linger for seven years without being completed even when funds meant for the work has been released.
When contacted the Ward-Head, Muhammad Bello, said the project started by the then senator representing the area, Bello Hayatu Gwarzo, in 2014 has become a tool for the campaign for politicians from the area who come to make promises before election that they would complete the project if elected.
He said people’s farms were taken for the construction of the dam but to date no compensation has been paid to those whose farms were taken away.
“Since our then Senator Hayatu Gwarzo initiated this project, we have longed for the day this dam would be completed but to no avail.
We have consulted with those in power to assist us to complete the dam but it has been one promise to another without fulfilment.
In fact, it has become a thing of a campaign, before the election they’ll come to us with the promise of completing the dam if elected but after the election, nothing more would be heard from them.
Even our House of Representative member, Sani Bala, once promised to do something about this dam but till now he hasn’t done anything.
The ward-head appeal to their two representatives at the National Assembly namely; Hon. Sanin Bala and Senator Bara’uJibrinto prevail on the Jama’are River Basin Development Authority and the contractor to return to site and complete the work.
Hadejia-Jama’are- River Basin Development Authority
According to information made available by the River Basin Authority in response to a freedom of Information FOI request, through the use of FOI request, the dam contract was awarded at the sum of two hundred and fifteen million and thirty eight thousand six hundred and fifty naira (N215.5m) to Kago Nigeria Limited after it bided for the contract against two other companies (AMHO Nig. LTD and M.SulumNig. LTD) and won.
According to the documents provided, the sum of N166.7 million was released to the contractor in the year 2014 for the construction work, while anotherN25.3million has since been released bringing total money released to N192 million.
The agency initially claimed that the construction work has been completed but later provided assessment statistics for the various sections. The statistics are as follows:
- Site Clearance 95% completed
- Key Trench (Foundation)100% completed
- Dam embankment 95% Completed
- Spillway construction 95% completed
- Upstream protection 100% completed
- Downstream Protection 90% completed
- Intake works 95% completed
- Toe drain construction 90% completed
A civil engineer who said he did not want his name in print explained that a well constructed dam should at least hold up water for use half way through the dry season and is not expected to dry up immediately after the rainy season or spill out its contain.
He said, if the amount of money released to the contractor was put into the construction, standard materials are then expected to have been used but he is afraid if that is the case.
“If you look at the funds released, the contractor got the job at the sum of N215.m and has received N192 million so far, I think it is logical to expect that the dam is in good shape and in use already.
“With such amount of money received, it would be difficult to convince people that the damages on the spillway and is as a result of outstanding payment.
“It also means there is the need for dredging at the site to retain water. Failure to do this could be part of the reason why the water escapes to neighboring fields causing erosion,” he said.
According to him, “looking at the statistics presented above, it is only expected that things are all in good shape with the Dam. So, a part of poor quality of work done, the long period of time taken to complete the work might be another factor that contributed to the dilapidation of the construction.
Tsanyawa House of Representative Member
Honorable SaniBala, representing Kunchi and Tsanyawa at the House of Representatives described the project as an “economic wastage” considering the huge amount of money put into it without achieving the desired results.
According to him, to fulfill his promise to the ward-head and the people of the area, he personally put in money to complete the work but the very first rain in 2020 washed away part of the spillway.
He said no doubt, the dam was poorly constructed and the contractor,Surajo Sani Marshal (Kago), also has his own problems which he has to explain.
“The Project is an economic waste; millions of naira has been washed down the drain and no results.
“Even after putting in some amount of money to help finish the work for the use of my people, what they claimed to have constructed was washed away by rain and not just any rain but the first rain of last year that’s to tell you how poor the work done is,” he said.
Bala stated that the state’s constituency allocation is often not enough as it gets just N40 million but promised to liaise with Senator BarauJibrin who happens to be the Chairman Appropriation Committee to see what he can do to complete the dam which originally came through the senate.
He assured that he would not relent in the pursuit of the completion of the project.
The Director of Operation, Saminu Alin Datti, Kago Nigeria Ltd, who spoke for the company said as far as the company is concerned the construction work of the dam had been completed.
That the present condition of the dam, he said, is as a result of lack of maintenance and not the fault of the company.
“When we were given the contract to construct the ‘Yan Wamzamai Dam, we did all that was required of us. We completed our work.
“The dilapidation you see now is as a result of lack of maintenance by the community, because every dam needs periodic maintenance. Failure to do so will lead to damages on the structures of the dam,” he added.
According to him, Kago Nig. td got the sum of N192 million for the project and was left with outstanding payment of N23.5 million.
Datti when asked why the dam is unable to retain water explained that the company could not make the water stand as a result of failure to pay compensation to those whose farm lands were taken for the construction as doing so would lead to more flood and erosion.
“We could not keep the water because the people whose farm lands were taken have not been paid their compensation so we thought the best thing to do is to allow the water flow away rather than keep it due to fear of overflowing which could lead to flood.
“So it’s not our fault. Even the House of Reps member from that area tried to continue the work with another company but did not succeed,” he concluded.
* This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting