By Henry Umoru, Abuja
The Senate has begun probe into the delay in the execution of the Kagara dam in Niger State despite the receipt of funding to the tune of N7.7 billion from the Federal Government.
Consequently, the Senate has mandated its Senator Bello Mandiya, All Progressives Congress, APC, Katsina South led Committee on Water Resources to as a matter of urgency, carry out a holistic investigation into the matter.
The upper chamber has also called on the Federal Government to consider the socio-economic importance of the project and see to its completion without further delay.
Resolutions of the Senate were a sequel to a motion titled, “the urgent need for the Federal Government to complete Kagara dam and one million gallon water treatment plant in Niger State, sponsored by Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East and co-sponsored by 19 Others.
Presenting the motion, Senator Musa who noted that the Kagara dam was first conceived and awarded by the Niger State Government to a Kano State-based company, WRECA, in 1992, said that the project was conceptualized to provide potable water and irrigation to Kagara and its environs.
According to him, due to the importance of the Kagara dam project, the Federal Government took over its execution and awarded the same to Biwater Shellaber (Nig.) Limited in December 1992 at the cost of N199, 222,596, adding that the project suffered neglect because of lack of funding which necessitated its renegotiation in the year 2001 at the cost of N2,219,746,244.75.
Senator Musa disclosed that the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, which is the supervising agency, issued a revised estimated cost to complete the project in the year 2010 pegged at N5,555,416,689.78.
He said, “If this project continues to be operated in a ‘stop and go’ manner, the dream of our people for portable water and economic empowerment through irrigation farming will remain a mirage.”
According to him, despite the completion of work at 68 percent, in 2006, the contractor had to stop work again because of the lack of non-release of substantial funds.
In his contribution, the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, APC Niger North who noted that provision of water was synonymous to life, said that there was the need to complete the project given its importance to the growth and development of the people.
In her contribution, Senator Uche Ekwunife, PDP Anambra Central who decried the high level of abandoned projects in the country, said, “We are talking about another abandoned project, this project was awarded in 1992 and was taken over by the Federal Government because of its importance and 27 years after we are still talking of how to complete the project.
“Mr President, this is a policy summersault, it is about successive governments not attending to the projects started by their predecessors,” she said.
According to her, she will propose a bill for the establishment of a Project Monitoring Agency that would be an independent agency in charge of all the ongoing projects, adding that it would be the duty of the agency to hand over and ensure that successive governments complete laudable projects started by their predecessors.
Also contributing, Senator Ibrahim Hadejia, APC Jigawa North East who noted that the motion was designed to provide 1,000 hectares of land would impact the economy of the region, stressed that the motion was timely, especially when the Ministry of Water Resource had completed some projects in the last four years.
According to him, dams were very expensive to construct, noting that the issue of non-completion of Kagara dam was not different from so many uncompleted dams, just as he said that certain dam had been under construction for 40 years.
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan said that it was important for the legislature to always keep under scrutiny projects of this kind, even as he said that the Senate through its committee would follow up its resolution and urge the committee to keep the senate informed on the project.