By Jonathan Ugbal
The Obudu Dam Resort, is a multi purpose facility that provides recreational as well as the essential commodity, water to communities around its environs.
Located in Ukwel-Obudu, less than 10 kilometers from the Obudu central bus terminal, the dam was destroyed by flood back in 2005 according to Patriot Abohson Sunday who works at the resort.
“Since then, people only visit the dam during festivities like Valentine’s day and may be Christmas” he says.
The Federal Government on Wednesday 14th August 2012, at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, approved the contract sum of N1.165 billion for the rehabilitation of the dam.
Briefing State House correspondents after that particular FEC meeting, Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Stella Ochekpe, accompanied by her former Information counterpart, Labaran Maku, lamented that the dam, which has a storage capacity of 1.25 million cubic meters, had been in an awful state, thereby affecting regional urban water supply in some communities in the area.
She said a memo was raised and submitted to the Council to enable the government of Cross River State embark on its regional urban water supply project, which will cover four communities: Obudu, Ogoja, Ikom, and Calabar.
She further revealed that, “The Cross River State government has, since 2005, gotten an International Development Association (IDA) loan to develop the regional water scheme that will meet the needs of these communities in Cross River. But because of the state of Obudu Dam, it has been impossible for that project to commence. The contract was awarded at the cost of N1.165 billion.”
The contract for the rehabilitation was awarded to Consolidated Construction Limited, CCL. In another development, the World Bank in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources and the Cross River State Water Board Limited, CRSWBL contracted Lilleker Brothers Limited, LBL to construct a water treatment plant, with the second phase been the construction of reticulation channels to benefiting neighboring communities.
When completed, the dam was expected to facilitate the irrigation of about 100 hectares of agricultural land, boost fisheries and promote tourism in the northern part of the state.
Details of the contract were headlined across the country and hopes were again high that life will return to the dam in no time, though some stakeholders had cautioned residents not to be too optimistic.
At the time, a lecturer in the federal college of education, Obudu warned that: “since 2005 the Cross River State Government had secured a loan under the International Development Agency through the World Bank Assisted Urban Reform Project but has been unable to do the rehabilitation of the dam and the factors that have delayed the rehabilitation work for seven years have not been addressed”.
He called for “wider community involvement in the project particularly in project monitoring and negotiating what will be the fate of communities from the environmental impact of the project and other looses they will incur”.
Two years after the award of the contract, it is obvious that those who cautioned that there was no need to celebrate may have been right after all.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the resort recently, it was as silent as a graveyard, with no construction activity ongoing, our reporter later learnt from sources within the resort that all staff of the various companies working on site were on Christmas break and were yet to resume.
However some Cross River Basin Development Authority staff who spoke on condition of anonymity decried the slow pace of work and expressed fears that the money budgeted for the project may have been siphoned.
A tour round the facility by our reporter showed that the spillway was only about 60% completed, our reporter observed that the quality of the walls constructed for the spillway was questionable in terms of quality and durability, the excavated sections showed signs of caving in as the sand dunes are slowly been washed away by rains.
Some of the locals that CrossRiverWatch spoke to said that they were not sure whether work was still ongoing on the resort or has stopped since not much activity is going on in the dam. They also complained that they were not carried along in the rehabilitation project.
“We do ask what they are doing but they rebuff us always claiming we have no right to question what they are doing, look at the road been rehabilitated by CCL, if work is not expedited, we are going to suffer during the rainy season which is just by the corner, right now the dust is unbearable, imagine the impassable mud” laments Igbal Michael, the youth leader of Urban Ward One.
“You heard what Donald Duke said about Liyel Imoke’s friend, Gershom Bassey’s company Lilleker, they did not even carry us along, I doubt if any of our sons is working with them, CCL are the worst, they see us as illiterates…” decries one of the locals who gave his name simply as Agba.
“I doubt if the phase two of the water treatment and distribution to some communities will be feasible, they (Lilleker) are supposed to finish phase one next month been February, but let’s keep our fingers crossed” says Patriot Abohson Sunday.
Efforts to get comments from the site managers of both companies proved abortive as they were not on site, and no staff in the resort and the community seemed to know their names or have their contacts.
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