• Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Cameroon’s plans to open Lagdo Dam puts Nigeria on high alert

The federal government has alerted states and relevant government agencies over plans by the Cameroonian government to open the flood gate of Lagdo Dam, on the Benue River.

The Cameroonian authorities said they will open the dam “in days ahead, due to heavy rainfall around the dam catchment area in Northern part of the country.

A letter dated August 21, 2023, and signed on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs ministry by Umar Salisu, Director, African Affairs, addressed to the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NENA), urged NEMA to take “ necessary proactive steps and actions that will mitigate the damage a well as sensitize the populace living in such areas for vigilance and all necessary precautions “

The letter noted that “ it is pertinent to note that when the release of water becomes necessary, the authorities of lagdo dam will be releasing on modulated variable mall amount of water at a time, in order to mitigate and avoid damages that the released water may cause along the River Benue basin both Cameroon and in Nigeria.

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The effect of the release of water from this dam is largely felt on surrounding regions in about 13 states in Nigeria, including Kogi, Benue, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe

Others include Niger, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, and Bayelsa States.

The government, through the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, during the week, also advised the flood-prone states to embark on aggressive comprehensive sensitization campaigns, to ensure unobstructed drainage systems and strategic relocation of residents living along the riverbanks to safer ground.

BusinessDay gathered also that the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev and the Minister of State, Bello Goronyo, in a statement, asked all tiers of government to escalate measures up to the grassroot levels to ensure seamless preparations

The statement also expressed the resolve of the federal government “to foster collaboration, innovation, and positive transformative changes within the ministry.”

It highlighted concerns about the potential for flooding in Nigeria from July to October, revealing significant hydrological findings, accentuating a conspicuous increase in the flow volume along the River Benue system.

Despite the increased flow, the statement reassured the public that the flow situation at the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers in Lokoja, a flood-prone area, remains reassuring within normal parameters.

Already, a statement from the Ministry revealed that Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had noted an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97 meters since last Friday.

“A flow level of 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022. The flow level on the River Niger system remains stable, with the level of the River Niger at Niamey, Niger Republic, standing at a normal level of 4.30 meters.

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“Reports from inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro also indicate a consistent flow regime. The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.80 meters on Friday, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022.”

The Lagdo dam, which has now become an annual nightmare to Nigerians was built between August 1977 and July 1982 by a combination of engineers and Chinese workers, along with Cameroonian labourers.

The company that managed the construction was the China International Water & Electric Corp. International power company AES Corporation runs the hydroelectric dam.

The government also advised the flood-prone states to embark on aggressive comprehensive sensitization campaigns, to ensure unobstructed drainage systems and strategic relocation of residents living along the riverbanks to safer ground.

BusinessDay gathered also that the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev and the Minister of State, Bello Goronyo, have asked all tiers of government to escalate measures up to the grassroot levels to ensure seamless preparations

The statement also expressed the resolve of the federal government “to foster collaboration, innovation, and positive transformative changes within the ministry.”

It highlighted concerns about the potential for flooding in Nigeria from July to October, revealing significant hydrological findings, accentuating a conspicuous increase in the flow volume along the River Benue system.
Despite the increased flow, the statement reassured the public that the flow situation at the confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers in Lokoja, a flood-prone area, remains reassuring within normal parameters.

Already, a statement from the Ministry revealed that Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency had noted an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97 meters since last Friday.

“ A flow level of 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022. The flow level on the River Niger system remains stable, with the level of the River Niger at Niamey, Niger Republic, standing at a normal level of 4.30 meters.

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“Reports from inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro also indicate a consistent flow regime. The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.80 meters on Friday, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022.”

Spokesman for the Adamawa state government, Himwashi Wonosikou, in a telephone interview with BusinessDay, revealed that the States have been alerted by the federal government, adding that the State has already swung into action, in preparations for the water expected from the release of water from the dam.

“ We have been alerted by the Federal government and we are working with NEMA to mitigate the effect of water to be released from Lagdo dam.

He revealed that the regular sharing of information on the dam between Nigeria and Cameroon is the direct result of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries after the 2012 flood that ravaged the country

“ The current regular alerts from Cameroon followed an agreement signed between the Nigeria and Cameroon, after the devastating flood of 2012, that wrecked havoc on Nigerian communities

According to him,” The memorandum of understanding entails the sharing of information on the state of water in the dam, rainfall and how to manage the release of excess water without leading to flooding disasters, between the two countries.

Read also: Averting 2022 flooding disaster in 2023 through proactive measures

BusinessDay gathered that it was also agreed that before Cameroon opens its dam, it must issue an early warning to enable Nigeria put proactive measures in place to prevent the destruction of lives and properties.
It is in compliance with the MoU that Cameroon usually deems it necessary to inform Nigerian authorities about its intention to release excess water from the Lagdo dam.

He however lamented that the arrangement, has failed to sufficiently address the flooding issue in Nigeria, adding that the solution will be to complete the Dasin Hausa dam in Fufore local government in Adamawa state, which will serve as a buffer for water released from the lagdo dam

BusinessDay gathered that Nigeria and Cameroon had, at the conception of the project, signed an agreement to build two dams such that when water is released from the Cameroonian dam, the Nigerian dam would contain it and prevent it from causing floods.

The Nigerian government had agreed to build a shock-absorber dam to be located in Adamawa State, named Dasin Hausa Dam

The dam was to absorb waters from Lagdo and cushion the effect of possible flooding, when water is released from the Lagdo dam in Cameroon.

The Dasin Hausa dam was conceptualized to be about two and a half the size of the Lagdo dam, which was built to supply electricity to the northern part of Cameroon and allow the irrigation of 15,000 hectares of crops downstream.

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The Dasin Hausa dam project which was to be sited at the Dasin Village of Fufore Local Government Area of Adamawa State was to generate 300 megawatts of electricity and irrigate about 150,000 hectares of land in Adamawa, Taraba, and Benue states.