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Farmers, rural dwellers decry abandoned water projects

16 February 2013, 07:25

Benin - Farmers and rural dwellers in Edo have lamented the several Federal Government abandoned water projects in the state.

An investigation by Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) across the three senatorial districts of Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North respectively on Friday, showed  that only the Ughoha water project had been completed and awaiting.

NAN reports that the Ugbalo water project in Esan Central local government had been abandoned.

However,  the Warrake Dam project in Owan West local government area and Ojerami Dam project in Akoko-Edo local government are at different stages of completion.

The Ugbalo water project was first constructed by the Western region government in 1955 but became moribund and has since been abandoned by successive governments.

But Ajibade Ijasan, the acting Managing Director of the Benin-Owena River Basin authority at Obayanton, near Benin , could not be reached for his comment while several calls and SMS messages put across to his phone were not answered.

However, a senior staff at the River Basin authority could confirmed to NAN that the authority  had completed work on the Ugboha water project awarded by the Federal government in 2005.

The source who spoke to NAN on the condition of anonymity, added  "while I can’t speak on the other projects, I know that work on the Ugboha project has since been completed in 2011 and ready for commissioning.

"What I can say is that the only thing remaining is the reticulation of water to some of the beneftting communities.’’

A NAN investigation also revealed that Vice President Namadi Sambo had  aborted his planned visit in 2011 to inaugurate the project following protests by the people of Ugboha community where the project is sited.

The protesters had in November of 2011, stormed the pumping station in protest against the planned inauguration, saying that despite being the host community, Ugboha was not listed as one of the benefitting communities in the water project.

According to them, the community river which used to serve as source of water for its people had been dammed for the water project, leaving them with no source of water.

They complained that their farm lands and economic crops were destroyed in the course of constructing flow stations, and that were not compensated in spite of an earlier pledge to do so.

The placard carrying protesters who condemned the exclusion of their community, said it was strange to find communities being denied the right to benefit from projects located in their domains while far away communities benefit.

Sources told NAN that the Federal government took over the Ojerami dam project during the first tenure of Gov Adams Oshiomhole after unsucceful attempts by the successive state administrations to rehabilitate it.

The ministry sources said the work was about 80 per cent completed and ready for re-inauguration.

Meanwhile, Farmers in Edo North have appealed to Federal Government to complete the abandoned Warranke Dam to improve food production in the area.

Alhaji Abdulahi Mohammed,  the Coordinator, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), told NAN that the Dam which construction work started in 2003 was conceived to boost food production in the state.

Mohammed said construction of the dam was a collaboration between the World Bank, Federal and State Governments.

He expressed regret that the government abandoned the project in 2005.

Though, Moammed could not specifically give the capacity of the Dam, he however said it was meant to take care of Owan East and West council areas and some parts of Etsako west local government.

“The purpose of this dam was well conceived and was meant to empower farmers in the areas mentioned but its non-completion is really disappointing.

“The pipes meant to connect various communities were already supplied well over 300 water pumps were also supplied.

“The project was part of National Programme on Food Security (NPFS) and about 300 farmers were already registered for the programme in the area.

“Its non-completion has been a setback for these farmers. But it is not too late, if the government can still ensure its completion,’’ he said.

At the state Ministry of Water resources, the acting Permanent Secretary, Mr Andrew Olobor, refused to volunteer any comment on the matter, saying he was not competent to speak as a civil servant.

- NAN

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