Sunday , September 19 2021

DESPITE CONTRARY EVIDENCE, WATER RESOURCES MINISTRY DENIES ENUGU DAM PROJECTS

By Kenechukwu ANDEH

FOLLOWING the investigative report, which exposed how lack of transparency and oversight stalled the Federal Government’s water projects in Enugu State, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has denied handling five of the six projects in the state. 

The ministry’s Director of Legal Services, O. N Ibrahim,  in response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request, stated that the only project handled by the ministry was the construction of the Adada River Dam and Associated Works at Nkpologwu of Enugu State.

By this response, the ministry has denied responsibility for the Mgbowo Water Dam project at Mgbowo, Awgu LGA, the Ivo Dam at Mpu in Aninri LGA, Amechi-Awkunanaw Dam at Amechi-Awkunanaw in Enugu South LGA, the Greater Oji River Water Project, and the limited reticulation and other works for Oji River regional water supply.

The ministry had earlier requested time to process what it termed “the volume of records involved” and the need to consult with relevant departments and agencies of the government.

FOI reply from Federal Ministry of Water Resources Abuja.

However, the ministry did not state the exact amount awarded for the Adada River Dam in its reply.

Instead, the one-page document attached to the reply marked as ANNEX WR showed that from December 23, 2010, to date, a total of N2.3 billion has so far been released and paid to the contractor Messrs Roudo Nig. Ltd for the project.

Also, according to the ministry, the dam component is about 95 per cent completed, while the water treatment is about 10 per cent completed.

The earth embankment dam, now in its tenth year of construction, is expected to supply portable water to Nsukka and its environs.

Records on Adada River Dam and Associated Works.

The ministry’s reply is, however, in contrast with records from a budget implementation report from the Budget Office of the Federation for 2011 and 2012, which detailed other dam projects under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, including the Amechi-Akwunanaw dam, which is said to be 65 percent complete but found to be non-existent when our reporter visited the area.

The 2014 budget proposal for the ministry had also indicated the construction of the Ivo River Dam with code FMWR006000290 and a budget of N400 million alongside the Mgbowo Earth-dam project with code FMWR006000361 having a budget of N50 million. Under the 2017 appropriation bill, the Ivo Dam Project and Mgbowo Earth Dam project with codes FMOWR99103440 and FMWR006000361 were again listed as projects with budgeted figures by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Project signage at Mgbowo earth dam project site.

In October 2018, after a Federal High Court in Lagos compelled the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suliman Adamu, to provide detailed information on the spending of billions of Naira on 292 projects between 2010 and 2016 to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the reticulation of the Oji River regional water supply projects located in Oji River LGA, included in our FOIA request, was contained in the document provided by the minister to SERAP and was said to be 100 percent completed. 

Despite these records, the ministry maintains that it only had records of the Adada River Dam Project, a clear breach of Section 9 of the FOI Act 2011, which mandates government or public institutions to keep every information or record about their operations, personnel, activities, and other relevant or related information/records in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or record.

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