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Residents suffer as water projects waste away in Oyo

On the 15th of September 2018, farmers in Oko, in Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo state woke up to find their farmlands, which were close to an abandoned dam, flooded. One farmer, Yusuf Abubakar put the value of his cassava crop lost in the flood at more than N200,000. Other farmers lost almost ripe crop planted on several hectares of land. They said they got no compensation from the government for their losses.

The dam that broke its bank and flooded the farmlands was nominated in 2015 by the lawmaker representing Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency, Olusegun Odebunmi as a constituency project at the cost of N46 million. The contract for the construction of the dam was awarded to two companies –Eurobel International Limited, which was in charge of the dis-embankment, and Hamkool Global Services, which handled the electrification and mechanisation of the dam.

Abandoned Oko dam

Abandoned Oko dam

 

The supervising agency, Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority, OORBDA, said N42,000,989 was released for the project that year.

In a 2018 report, PREMIUM TIMES spoke to, Adeola David, a site engineer and supervisor at the dam, who said the project was “close to completion” and would start working as soon as pipes are connected to the river.

However, two years after he made this claim, the project is still uncompleted.

When this reporter arrived at the site of the dam project in September, bushes have overtaken it. Even though there was no gate in the compound was tough entering it as thick bushes stood in one’s way.

Abandoned Oko dam

Abandoned Oko dam

 

“During the initial site work on the project in 2018, the passage they channeled for the flow of the coming river was too small to allow its free movement. As you can see, imagine this small hole for the flow of this big river. It is poor.

 “This made the river create a new passage. This new passage overflowed into this farming community. It even reached the main road. When this flood happened it was so serious none of us could even come to salvage what was left of our farm for several days,” Mr. Abubakar said:

“Some farmers attempted planting rice on the very wide land after the flood but it did not work because once rain falls again, it would wash off everything,” he added.

 Mr Abubakar said since the dam was abandoned, farmers are filled with fear at the start of the rainy season, instead of being happy.

Since the flood that occurred in 2018 that exposed the danger of the poorly executed half work that was done on the site of the dam, farmers in the area actually fear the rainy season because a major rain could result in another problem.

However, this year, Mr. Abubakar explained that they are “not so scared because the river has created a new pathway that can accommodate its big flow going into Ejigbo and other places.” 

But the implication of this is that the purpose of the project had been totally defeated. The dam project was, if completed, supposed to trap the flowing water into a reservoir and then supply water into households into the town and neighbouring communities and also serve irrigation purposes.

Mr Abubakar, a farmer at Oko

Mr Abubakar, a farmer at Oko

 

Adeniran Oluwasakin, the chairman of Unity Farmers Association in Oko and its environs told UDEME that the failure to complete the dam had caused so much problem for residents including shortage of food supply.

“Farms have been destroyed. Water had taken over cashew, yam farm, cassava farm, maize farm, and a lot of people can’t farm again because the water is too much and it destroyed everywhere then,” he said. 

“The way the entry to the dam was designed, it was too small to ensure the easy flow of the heavy current water flowing in. Where the freeway for the dam was also located is too far to make it effective.”

Babatunde Muhideen, the secretary of the monarch of the community said the king recently visited Mr. Odebunmi in Abuja to complain about the dam and the havoc it was wrecking on the community

“The king went to Abuja less than a month now and he talked to him because he is a son of the soil here and he promised that when the rain stops here they are going to start working,” he said. 

Lawmaker Reacts

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the lawmaker, Mr Odebunmi, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Maroof Ajibolu blamed some residents who he claimed vandalized some materials at the site of the project for its current state and the flood experienced by the farmers. He also claimed that work was completed on the dam project in 2018. 

When confronted by this reporter with findings that showed that the project was not completed before the project was abandoned, Mr Ajibolu argued that the definition of ‘completion of work’ varies.

He, however, said that because the monarch had prevailed on the lawmaker that work at the site was going to resume soon. 

Agency Keeps Mum

When reached for comments about the state of the damn, OORBDA failed to respond to questions sent to it.

Ajinapa water supply scheme

The authorities seem to have forgotten the plight of Ajinapa residents in Orire Local Government where residents have resorted to drinking dirty and contaminated water for years.

The only source of ‘clean water’ in the community, a borehole project commissioned by the state government over a decade ago. In a 2018 report, residents told Udeme they go through hell to get portable water in a day.

When this reporter visited the village last September, nothing has changed and the residents have continued to live in a situation whereby they ‘compete’ to fetch water.

A ‘forgotten’ water supply scheme

‘Completed’ and commissioned in 2018, the Ajinapa water supply scheme was designed to provide clean water to residents of the community and adjoining villages. 

Abandoned pipes at Ajinapa

Abandoned pipes at Ajinapa

 

It was facilitated by Hon. Mulikat Akande, the former lawmaker representing Ogbomosho North/South and Orire Local Government areas at the House of Representatives.

The supervising agency for the construction of the project was initially the Lower Niger River Basin Development Agency (LNRBDA) but in 2015, Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) took over the completion of the water supply scheme. 

In response to questions sent by Udeme in 2018, OORBDA said N180 million (N180,023,729) was released for the project in 2015. The agency could not provide the 2016 figure. The project was executed by Eurobel International Limited.

When this reporter arrived at the site of the water supply scheme, he met a project that looks fully equipped to serve the purpose it was designed to serve. A transformer, a generator, storage tank, dam structures for water trapping and processing and a building with offices were all present on the site.

Faulty generator at Ajinapa dam

Faulty generator at Ajinapa dam

 

At the site of the dam, this reporter met a resident of the town, Mr Samuel Alabi who came with four 25-litre kegs on a bike to fetch water directly from the Tewure river which had been converted to a dam supply for the water supply project.

Mr Alabi explained to PREMIUM TIMES that the only borehole in the town is not sufficient for the residents and they have no choice but to fetch water from the river at the dam. He likened the dam to a project that had been ‘forgotten’. 

“I came to fetch water here from Ajinapa because there is no water and the only borehole project in the town is not sufficient for us and it does not even function well. I fueled my bike with N300 just for this trip alone.

“Those who don’t have bike hire motorcyclists to help them fetch. Five kegs ( 25 litres each) cost N600. They measure it using trips. A trip is N600.”

However, this reporter observed that the water residents were fetching was not healthy for human use because herdsmen bathe their cow in this river on a daily basis.

In 2018, one of the engineers who worked on the project, Adeola David, told PREMIUM TIMES that the reason the project was redundant is because there was a dispute over who will take responsibility for powering the machines at the dam.

Abel Israel, one of the guards at the site told this reporter that the only reason the dam was still not supplying water to residents till date is due to the absence of electricity supply and the faulty state of the only available generator.

“Electricity supply does not reach this place and the generator spoilt about two months after it was installed,” he said. 

The only water source at Ajinapa

The only water source at Ajinapa

 

The village head, David Ogunmola, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES explained that the main reason the water corporation refused to provide the community water was because they ordered all female residents to pay N500 monthly each in order to fuel the generator to power the dam.

However, according to him, this was unacceptable because it was a sabotage to their efforts which included the personal connection of pipes from the dam to four different locations in the villages. He also noted that the money is not something residents of the largely farming community could afford.  

“When they arrived they connected the pipe of these taps to the dam but they did not connect it so we did not get water to drink. Later on, they installed something that they said will be a reading meter and we will be paying at the end of the month.

“They said women will be paying N500 at the end of every month, what if a visitor wants to fetch in this village? N500? I can’t pay it. Moreso, when they brought the water project, I paid for the connection of the water to this tap from the dam yet we have not seen water. Those they told to be guarding the river against cows are there but to what end?” the monarch asked in a shaky voice.

Speaking further, he maintained that the project was not powered with electricity because of the ‘selfish interests’ of those in charge. He accused them of deliberately refusing to power it with electricity to pressure the villagers to start paying the levy.

“I spent about N40,000 during the dry season to connect the pipe to this tap in front of my house. I did not collect money from anyone; I used my personal money yet everything turned futile. From here they connected it to Tewure and some other places but when people here did not get water here how will those in other adjoining communities get water?” he asked rhetorically.  

He added that he had tried all his best to call the attention of the authorities yet no step had been taken.

Water Corporation Reacts

Upon ‘completing’ the project, findings by this reporter revealed that the supervising agency, OORBDA, handed over the project to the Water Corporation of Oyo State for maintenance and control.

In an interview, the Executive Chairman of the corporation, Adebayo Adepoju echoed the findings by PREMIUM TIMES that the project is currently not functioning due to the non-availability of power.

However, he blamed this on the failure of the contractor who handled the project for failing to connect it to the national grid despite being part of the work scope. 

When confronted with the claim by residents of the town, including the traditional head that they were told to pay a monthly levy to fuel the generator, the chairman said he was not aware of such an arrangement. 

“That is actually incorrect. Since I have been here, I have done a very extensive work on Ajinapa and I can tell you that this is the very first time I am hearing this. Why will we tell people to pay N500 before they get water? Are you saying before the scheme starts to work or to get to their homes?”

He added that the power issue is “being worked on now” adding that “by the first quarter of next year we should have a very sustained production of water at Ajinapa.”

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