Communities and residents of the famed Dadin Kowa dam in Gombe State said they are lost in decades of vacillating hopes as they earnestly await the realisation of the 40 megawatts (mw) electrification project in the dam after it was commissioned, 30 years ago.
This investigative piece by Daily Trust is the second part of an investigation series of stalled hydro projects in Northern Nigeria, with the least suffering up to seven years of abandonment by different levels of government.
The Dadin Kowa dam which was completed in 1984 in Gombe State should be producing a minimal 40mw electricity, but after 30 years, residents are still groping with epileptic power supply from the overloaded Bauchi – Gombe 132KV power line while the electricity component in the dam is left to rust.
The dam is located in Yamaltu Deba Local Government Area, about 37km from Gombe town. The dam was designed to have a reservoir capacity of 2.8 billion cubic meters to include the generation of 34mw electricity while irrigating 44,000 hectares of farmland, and providing about 19 million gallons daily potable water to Gombe capital.
The federal government announ-ced in August 2001 that it would spend $32 million (N5.9 billion) to complete the Dadin Kowa Dam power generation facility. But in March 2007, the Obasanjo government approved N4.46 billion for its completion. The project which was awarded in favour of Mabon Power Limited could not kickoff in the Yar’Adua administration as there were issues on feasibility.
Former minister of power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, in 2011 convened a meeting to review the project’s status when he directed government agencies to always insist on technical viabilities of contractors before awarding any jobs.
In his review of the hydropower station, Nnaji said it was embarrassing that a critical project whose civil work was commissioned in 1988 was yet to take off as at 2011.
The minister who flayed the rate of abandoned projects, directed a construction firm, Mabon Power Nigeria Limited to facilitate the process of taking over the project from past companies that abandoned it during past administrations.
He was quoted as saying: “Government is a continuum and that this government wants to know what went wrong with all these abandoned projects all over the place.”
Gombe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo who was also presented at the meeting was not happy that more than 30 years after the dam started working, the power component is still incomplete. He then pledged his government’s readiness to undertake a minimum of 15percent equity participation whenever it is called upon.
Mabon Energy on its part said it was awarded a concession in 2011 to complete and operate the plant when it reviewed its capacity to 40mw electricity to cater for the people and industry of the region but could not progress much due to fund and technical issues.
In recent weeks, Gombe State Commissioner for Science, Techno-logy and Minerals Development, Hon. Asma’u Iganus met with the Minister of State, Power, Hon. Mohammed Wakil to sort ways that could fast track the project.
Expressing her dissatisfaction for the abandoned project, Asma’u urged the federal government to hasten the implementation of the Dadin Kowa dam project while reminding the ministry that Gombe State should be included in the renewable energy plan, which the ministry is superintending.
In what seemed like a renewed effort in the fourth quarter of 2014, a top official in the Ministry of Water Resources who doesn’t want his name in print said Dadin Kowa project was on course and that feasibility studies have been completed on hydropower installation for the 40mw Dadin Kowa dam in Gombe State, Tiga, and Challawa in Kano State and the 3,050 Mambilla dam in Taraba State.
An engineer in the power ministry who explained why there has to be a fresh feasibility study for the project said the current administration considered the power project as Small Hydro Power (SHP) class as its generation capacity will be less than 100mw meant to supply Gombe town and its immediate environs.
The official who made available the 2014 budget appropriation said the project was part of the new projects category, MOP1000985 for feasibility study and development of Small & Medium Hydro Power Plants with N2.3 billion appropriated for them.
Hon. Mohammed Wakil confirmed that the power ministry has completed the studies on the marked dams for hydropower installations including Dadin Kowa dam, the Kashimbilla which, he said, was at about 90 percent completion stage and the Gurara dam in the northern region.
Wakil who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media, Rasheed Olawale, said consultations were on between the ministry and stakeholders to identify and resolve the grey areas delaying the projects, adding that a team was in China to finalise the process to kick off similar project, the Mambilla hydropower in Taraba State.
He said a Presidential Initiative on Renewable Energy (PIRE) which is being deliberated upon by the federal government will help to generate more information on how to develop renewable energy sites, including the SHPs and the project.
The state ministry responsible for electricity affairs said it could not tell the progress as the federal government through the Power Ministry is yet to properly hand over to Gombe State for its continuation.
No hope in sight
A visit to the town revealed that the dam is serving agricultural purpose with nothing to show for electricity. An entrepreneur in Dadin Kowa town, Abdullahi Jalo said there are many prospects of development and commerciality in the community hosting the dam especially on completion of the electrification component.
“There is an effort by Dankwambo administration to put in use the Dadin Kowa Dam so as to boost electricity supply to not only the state but the entire north eastern states and whenever you are starting you will have to consider the potentiality.”
The dam also serves as partly a source for potable water to the residents while helping to irrigate their farms. Community members however expressed worries over the delayed electrification. One Garba Ahmadu, a resident along Tarau Road said he looks forward to seeing the place hosting a power station like the famed Kainji.
He said: “We have the potential, we want to be like Kainji where I learnt the communities enjoy uninterrupted power supply. Many industries like Ashaka Cement are here to consume significant supply from the plant. It will help to fast-track Gombe as the economic heartbeat of the Northeast.”
Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Gombe State Chapter, Alhaji Umar Usman Abdullahi who spoke with our reporter said “the Dadin Kowa dam is a federal government dam and a hydro power component is being constructed at the place. We are hoping that Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo will try as much as possible with the little resources of the state to assist in irrigation farming using the dam facility.
“We believe that on completion, the electricity will help boost agricultural and economic activities in the state. So we appeal to the federal government and other stakeholders to hasten action on it,” he pleaded.
Haliru Nasari, an industrial electricity consumer in Dadin Kowa, a neighbouring town to the dam site said they have a dim hope on when the project would be completed.
Nasari who operates a milling machine shop lamented the high cost of using diesel to power the machines. “The whole thing is at a halt. We don’t have constant electricity even with the line we are connected to from Gombe town. I spend up to N3,000 daily on fuel to power my engines for milling maize and cereals. It also has a toll on our customers as we charge them high to recoup our fuel consumption cost.
“We are passionately appealing to government to hasten this project because it will really reduce the cost of doing business in the town and beyond,” Nasari said.
By Simon Echewofun Sunday
This project was supported by Ford Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting