The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, on Tuesday, called on the private sector to invest in the potentials available in Nigeria’s dams and reservoirs.
Adamu made this call at a workshop on Effective Utilisation of Impounded Water in Dam Reservoirs’ in Abuja.
He noted that dams and reservoirs had not been fully utilised, following huge investments through the years, saying investing in them had the potential to change the fortunes of the country.
According to him, effective utilisation of the water impounded in dam reservoirs is expected to sustain the fast growing population through water and food security.
“This will also ensure youths employment in the farms and agro-allied industries that will spring up, thereby enhancing the standard of living of our people.
“Dam is a critical infrastructure to the sustainability of water resources. Water is stored in a dam reservoir during period of excess flow, so that it can be released from the reservoir during the period of inadequate flow to meet the demand of water users.
“Unfortunately, some of the impounded dam reservoirs across the country have not been put into best use after construction, thereby defeating the purpose for which they were built.
“The participation of the private sector in the utilisation of water impounded in our dam reservoirs across the country should therefore, be encouraged’’.
The minister said the workshop was timely and would fashion out ways to correct this ugly trend, saying state governments and other dam owners must ensure effective utilisation of reservoirs for various purposes.
He added that the ministry was interfacing with Katsina, Enugu and Imo State Governments with a view to effectively utilising the water in Mashi, Sulma, Adada and Inishi dam reservoirs, respectively.
This collaboration, he noted, was yielding fruitful results.
Adamu said the ministry had recorded some achievements in the area of concession of some hydropower projects, through Public Private Partnership, in pursuit of the agenda of the current administration.
“The 30MW Gurara Hydropower Project, 40MW Dadin Kowa Hydropower Plant concessions, the 40MW Kashimbila Hydropower Plant, and the 136MW Manya Hydropower Project, both in Taraba State, among others, are our achievements.”
Mr John Ochigbo, Director, River Basin Operations and Inspectorate with the ministry, said the workshop was crucial, considering the huge investment of government in the construction of these critical national assets.
He noted that dams had the potential of boosting the socio-economic life of a country through the provision of water for domestic, agriculture, industrial, hydro-power, flood control, recreation and environmental sustainability.
“It is however sad that the downstream development of these infrastructure that would have provided the above mentioned services, have been neglected over the years, which has resulted in heavy loss of revenue to the nation.
“The estimated 34 billion cubic meter of water impounded across the country, is a huge economic good or resource that can be utilised to boost economic growth especially at this difficult economic times,” Ochigbo said.
According to him, the partial Commercialisation of the river basin development authorities (RBDAs), would effectively harness the economic potentials that abounds in them.
“This is a wakeup call for the RBDAs to attract credible investors, to effectively utilise the impounded water in Dam reservoirs in the RBDAs for various purposes as earlier mentioned above.’’
A Dam and Irrigation Expert, Mr Matthew Offie, in his Presentation on `Challenges of Non-utilisation of Impounded Water in Dam Reservoirs’, expressed worry that many dam reservoirs in the country were not optimally utilised.
Offie said Nigeria was losing a lot from under-utilisation of its dam reservoirs, saying there was need to change this narrative.
“Nigeria has a lot of socio-economic benefits such as food security, water for all uses, agriculture value chain and employment generation, so we must maximise its full potentials.
“At one of my visits to Ikere-Gorge Dam in Oyo State, some workers did not even have water to drink, they had to seek water from other places, a lot of these dams are abandoned.
“Even during the flooding, we do not need to run helter-skelter if we maximise our dams and reservoirs efficiently’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that participants are expected to draw up a Draft Action Plan on Dam Reservoirs that would contribute meaningfully to the economic growth of Nigeria.
By Tosin Kolade