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Residents Groan As Kwara Dam Project Marked As Complete, Fails To Work

“If not because you stated you’re a journalist I won’t take you because they haven’t worked there for a long time and the land has become overgrown,” Baba Adele, a motorcyclist, who had reluctantly agreed to take this reporter to the location of the Ote dam in Asa Local Government of Kwara State said.

The dam, located in the outskirts of Ote town has a through-road, about 5.6 kilometres of paved way now partially washed away.

First constructed in 1986, the dam serves as potable water and irrigation source for about 10 communities including Isara, Omidoyin, Akopari, Eleyele, Ote, Budo-Egba, Gbabu, and other neighbouring communities.

It stopped functioning in 2003 and didn’t gain the government’s attention until 2020 when it was earmarked for rehabilitation. Abdulyekeen Sadiq, representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, elected the rehabilitation of Ote/Ballah Dam in Asa as part of his 2020 constituency projects.

The project with a budgetary allocation of N50 million, supervised by the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority(LNRBDA), was awarded to Michael Jacobs Consulting Ltd. at a contract sum of N54,129,058.44.

N50 million was paid to the contractor, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) response from LNRBDA. UDEME also confirmed from the Accountant-General of the Federation that 2020 Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPs) have been fully funded.

Soon after payment in July, residents say the contractor swung to work, first by grading the access road to the dam, clearing the three hectares of land that holds the dam reservoir and stone pitching work downstream.

Soon, the dam was abandoned in November after four months’ work by the contractor, dashing the hopes of residents.

Part of the vast portion left unfinished with stone pitching at the downstream


Current State


When UDEME visited in March, it was found that solar light had been installed at the dam and a small bridge had also been constructed. Other works sighted include stone pitching, which had been constructed to some extent on the downstream coast, but a vast portion is still unfinished.

However, the newly-constructed bridge has collapsed due to the poor state it was left in, and anyone that wants to cross it must jump a gully to get to the other side. Farmers in the area said this has affected them in transporting their yields.

The sorry state of the powerhouse, transformer, offices, pumping house and other facilities built for the dam operation loudly tells that the dam had long suffered abandonment.

The collapsed bridge at the downstream


Residents Suffer


35-year-old Lukman Akopari was at his farm with his brothers when this reporter approached him. Mr Apokari recounted the significance of the dam when it was actively serving water to various communities.

“But since the dam stopped functioning, we have been suffering intensely from water scarcity. We don’t see as much water as we used to, if not for the governments and philanthropists that provided boreholes to some areas in communities that brought relief by getting a little water,” he said.

Mr Akopari said the contractor first appeared with a tractor and removed all the trees and shrubs on the land. He described the site before the project as a ‘hard-to-reach’ area.

He added that the response he always receives from the contractor is that more funds have yet to be approved for them to continue the project.

Abandoned pumping house

Abdulrafiu Issa, the community head of Isara where the dam was situated said his community depends on the only hand-pump borehole behind his house, adding that when the contractor recently visited the site due to the collapsed bridge he told them they will come for the project by dry season if the fund is released to them.

“When the bridge at the downstream collapsed, someone(contractor) came to check it and told us they’ll come and continue it during the dry season,” Mr Isa said.

He also called on the government to come to their aid to complete the rehabilitation of the dam so that they would continue to enjoy it as they used to.

Khadijat Jimoh, who sells pap in Isara, told this reporter how the scarcity of water negatively affects her business.

She stated that she was overjoyed when she knew that the dam would be rehabilitated, but that her joy was short-lived when learned that the project had been abandoned.

The stone pitching work at the downstream

At Omidoyin community, Rafat Musa, a mother-of-six also laments that her community depends on the only borehole at Isara which became faulty more than two weeks before it was repaired a day before UDEME visited through house-to-house contribution.

She said they were happy about the project hoping it would end their long time plight of water.

“During the time they are working on the project, our father bought a tap. We don’t know where he kept it we should have shown you, with the hope that anytime they complete the project we’ll fix it to avoid water wastage from our community,” she said.

The chairman of the Ote Descendant Union, Ishola Saka, explained why residents are not persistent in asking for the work to be completed.

“We didn’t reach out to them (contractor and lawmaker) about why they stopped work on the project, because when they first started work they made us understand it was a little fund appropriated for the project,” Mr Saka said.

He added that thieves have been stealing some ‘costly’ materials, including from the transformer and powerhouse that have been left to rust.

The stanchion reservoir at Ote town


Lawmaker, Agency, Contractor React


Speaking through his aide, Olasunkanmi Abdulrafiu, the lawmaker said the LNRBDA earlier suggested he made the project a continuous one by re-nominating in following years but he refused, insisting that the contractor first rehabilitate the dam as projected.

Up till the time UDEME reached out to him, Mr Sadiq noted that he hadn’t received any information regarding the project execution nor heard anything from the contractor.

“I’ve been calling other people too, we’ll go to the Lower Niger about the project and also seek for the contractor.” Mr Abdulrafiu said on behalf of his principal.

When contacted via the contractor’s (Michael Jacob’s) line provided to UDEME by LNRBDA, Samuel Samson who said he was a former staff of the company didn’t know about the project but promised to reach out to his former colleagues to know who might have handled the project. He did not get back.

The LNRBDA stated in a response to the FOI that the project has been completed according to the fund released to them. The agency however didn’t include the amount spent on each scope of work.

The dam reservoir

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