By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate on Thursday mandated its Committee on Water Resources to investigate within two weeks the delay in the completion of Kagara Dam and one million gallons water treatment plant in Niger State despite past budgetary allocations for the project.
It also urged the federal government to consider the socio-economic importance of the project to the people of the area and ensure its completion without further delay.
This was sequel to a motion moved by Senator Mohammed Musa and 19 other senators during plenary.
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Musa noted that the Kagara Dam project was awarded by the Niger State Government to a Kano-based company, WRECA, in 1992 with the sole purpose of providing potable water for the people of Kagara and its environs to cover approximately 1,000 hectares.
But due to its importance, he said the project was taken over by the federal government and awarded to Biwater Shellaber (Nig) Limited in December 1992 at the cost of N199,222,596.
He lamented that “the contract suffered so many neglect and abandonments because of lack of substantial fund which necessitated its renegotiation in 2001 at the cost of N2,219,746,244.75”.
Senator Musa added that: “Despite the fact that the overall completion stage of the work stood at 68 per cent in 2006, the contractor has to stop work again because of lack of substantial fund release.”
He further informed plenary that the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, which is the supervising agency, later issued a revised estimated cost to complete the project in 2010 with N5,555,416,689.78 due to the delay and eventual inflationary rate on cost of materials.
The legislator, however, noted that if urgent action is not taken, the purpose of taking over the project by the federal government in December 1992 and subsequent budgetary allocations as well as extent of work done would have been a waste.
Supporting the motion, the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, stressed the need to complete the project very soon so that the people’s dream for potable water and economic empowerment through irrigation farming could be achieved.
Also contributing, Senator Uche Ekwunife, while lamenting the non-completion of the project after 27 years, suggested that it should be terminated for a fresh start at speed rate with involvement of all stakeholders.
According to her, “This kind of situation was the reason I introduced the Project Monitoring Bill so that all projects by the government agencies can be properly monitored from the beginning to the end.”
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said it has become important for lawmakers to always do the right things during oversight to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as their project sites.
He therefore directed the Committee on Water Resources to carry out a thorough investigation on the dam project with a view to ensuring its completion without further delay.