Demarcation and survey of land, the first sign of physical construction activities, have been observed at the $5.7 billion (about N5.3 trillion) 3,050MW Mambilla hydropower project site in Taraba State, about 35 years after it was conceived.
According to Aaron Artimas, spokesman to the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, the project was reviewed with the coming of the minister, adding that aside signing the pact with the state government, the land and aerial survey of the project site was renegotiated for N350 million.
- How Angry Youths Barred Oyo, Ondo Governors From Monarch’s Palace in Ibadan
- Crisis persists in Ibadan despite closure of Shasha market
The Mambilla hydropower project is expected to increase the national grid by 30 per cent when completed.
The contract cost is worth $5.7bn with 85 per cent funding ($4.85bn) from the Chinese Export-Import Bank (EXIM) while the federal government is providing a counterpart funding of $850 million which is the balance of 15 per cent.
In the 2021 appropriation (budget), the ministry has pegged N200m for the survey work of the project.
The consultancy services for enumeration and valuation of communities and persons to be affected will gulp N75m while another N75m will be spent on what the ministry described as detailed engineering design, project management and supervision of the project.
Although much has been on paper about the project, there was nothing practically on the ground to show for it.
However, our correspondent toured the proposed site of the project in Sardauna Local Government Area of the state, to verify the recent claims that survey works for the project have begun since late 2020.
The survey work is being carried out by 10 surveying firms with the portions divided into 10 lots for the firms, officials supervising the survey at the sites said.
They said the work covers the upstream and downstream of River Donga which has its source from the Mambilla mountain range with an elevation of over 1,820m above sea level.
Most of the firms have already reached 45 per cent of their allocations of the survey works when our correspondent spoke to the officials in Sardauna town recently.
The downstream of the river sprawls across three Local Government Areas (LGA) in Taraba State and part of Benue State. These are all part of the area for the survey works.
The locals at Sardauna town said the surveyors were connected with representatives of each community as a guide to enable them to conduct hitch-free survey work. One of the surveyors, Mr Rotimi Apere Akanji of ROBILAIN Ventures Limited, said his firm is handling Lot 1 of the survey. He said his team was conducting demarcation and survey of the dams’ reservoir area of the Nya Upstream right bank with a catchment area of 4005 hectares.
“We were mobilized by the Taraba State government late last year and we moved to site immediately,” he said.
Another surveyor said data collection for the project area was completed in 2018 and that provided the surveyors adequate information of the terrain of areas earmarked for the project which made the land survey easier.
The official, who spoke in Gembu, another town to be impacted by the Mambilla hydropower project, said the first phase of the survey was conducted through the use of Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and satellite images.
However in January 2020, the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, said a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Taraba State Government and the Federal Ministry of Power.
At Gembu, a community member, Mallam Haruna Kakara, said they were convinced that the federal government is now serious and committed to executing the power project.
He confirmed seeing various workers coming to assess some areas in the community.
Commenting, the Taraba State Commissioner of Power, Dr Badina Garba, who is also the leader of the Sensitization Committee, stated that the communities have embraced the project after they were informed about its potential.
Confirming the survey work process at the project site, the Director of Renewables and Rural Power Access at the Federal Ministry of Power, and Chairman, Mambilla Project Delivery Implementation Committee, Engr. Faruk Yabo, said significant progress was made in 2020 on the project.
“In the last six to seven months that we took over as the presidential committee, we have been able to do quite a number of things.
“As we speak, the surveyors are on site, the enumerators are on site. They are trying to make sure that the Mambilla hydropower plant has a project site,” Yabo emphasised.
While the survey work is quite visible, officials in the power ministry said negotiation for the project funding from China EXIM, is ongoing led by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, noting that the survey works were part of the evidence needed by China to proceed with the financing deal.