Over 40 years since its commencement, the Kafin Zaki dam project in Bauchi State remains unfinished despite many attempts and promises. Daily Trust on Sunday reports on the state of the jinxed project.
The Kafin Zaki dam was first conceived after the 1972-1974 drought in the Sahel region and later proposed by the Shagari administration in the defunct Second Republic. Its construction cost was less than N100 million, but it was reviewed to N10 billion in 1994 and N60 billion in 2009. The cost may eventually rise higher.
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Findings indicate that during the Shagari administration from 1979 to 1982, a contract was awarded to Julius Berger Plc to build the dam. In 1984, the contract was terminated, but it was reinstated in 1992 by the Ibrahim Babangida regime.
In 1994, the regime of General Sani Abacha terminated the contract again and set up a judicial committee of inquiry into all the aspects of the project. In 2002, a fund was allocated for the project but abruptly withdrawn.
In 2008, the then Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State awarded a contract to Dangote Group to restart the abandoned project, a move that was supported by Abdul Ahmed Ningi, who represented the state in the National Assembly when the project was cancelled in 2002.
In November 2013, former Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo also visited the dam site and assured stakeholders of its construction by the federal government.
Speaking at the project site in Bauchi, Sambo said the move would break the jinx of over three decades which successive administrations in the state had tried to surmount.
“In line with Mr President’s transformation agenda, he has directed me to proceed with ensuring that this project is implemented for the benefit of the people of the northeastern region of this country,” Sambo had told villagers who received him at the proposed dam site.
Under the proposed design review from the Ministry of Water Resources, Bauchi, the dam project would ensure the development of at least 125,000 hectares of irrigable
land, out of which 80,000 hectares would be in Bauchi, 25,000 hectares in Yobe, 15,000 hectares and 5,000 hectares in Borno states.
Sambo said the proposed dam project, under the Jama’are-Yobe basin would, when realised also generate 15 megawatts of hydro-electric power and 45 megawatts from bio-fuels, as well as the development of 100,000 tonnes of fisheries annually.
Flanked by his host, Governor Yuguda, predecessor, Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu and the Emir of Ningi, Yunusa Mohammed Danyaya, Sambo said the federal government, under the then President Goodluck Jonathan transformation agenda, was irrevocably committed to the realisation of the project.
He explained that the federal government was reviewing in totality, the project design for other cascading dams along with Kafin Zaki, such as in Yobe and other states, to ensure that all the segments of the society along the river benefitted from the programme.
He said, “Each of the segments of people will have an intensive irrigation scheme, and immediately the designs are completed and the project review is ready, we will invite stakeholders meeting for the final memorandum of understanding to proceed with the development of the project to ensure that the people of Bauchi, Yobe, Borno and other states benefit from this project.”
Sambo, who expressed dismay that the project had been going on for decades, however, assured listeners that the Kafin Zaki Dam, when constructed, would immensely benefit people in the North-East geo-political zone of the country, stressing that the federal government was fully aware of the various issues along the project line.
Also, in 2014, the immediate past governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, during his campaigns on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), pledged to complete the construction of Kafin-Zaki Dam if elected in 2015, but he was unable to do anything on the project.
Investigation revealed that other benefits derivable from the proposed dam project include the development of several agro-allied industries, including sugar refinery, flour mills and vegetables, as well as direct employment to over one million adults on farm and related agro-allied industries. It would similarly sustain municipal and livestock water supply along the river and provide recreation and tourism potentials.
When our correspondent visited the site of the dam last week, he observed that the project has been abandoned, but the site has become a big town hosting hundreds of irrigation farmers, fishermen, traders, artisans, mechanics, among others.
There is also a weekly market named after former President Shehu Shagari, which holds every Friday. It attracts hundreds of people from different locations in the state.
Malam Adamu Jibrin, the village head of Filin Shagari, said during the first tenure of former President Shagari, he intended to construct the dam. And at that time, the entire area was virgin land, apart from one village across the river, called Jangu.
“Our houses and some farmlands in Jangu were shortlisted and compensations were paid to the affected residents. There were some other farmlands that were not shortlisted, but because they paid compensation on our houses we did not raise any eyebrow. We were given the notice to vacate the village because the construction company wanted to start work. After we left, work commenced in earnest, day and night at the beginning of the project,’’ he said.
Former President Shagari visited the area and laid the foundation of the dam project, but it did not come to reality because some months after its commencement, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) toppled the government of Shehu Shagari. After the change of government, the project continued for some months and later stopped completely and the construction company left the site.
The majority of people living in Filin Shagari are farmers, so they pleaded to be allowed to use part of the site for irrigation temporarily, on the agreement that whenever the dam project resumes they would leave. The agreement was reached through the then ward head of the area, Muhammadu Sunusi. The district head was Ibrahim Halilu (Madakin Bauchi) while Bala Kariya was the chairman of the old Darazo Local Government Council. They all gathered at Filin Shagari and agreed that they would allow people to build houses on the condition that when the dam project resumes, the government would not compensate anyone.
After the first batch of people, who were majorly farmers, other farmers from different places