By Rita Iliya/Minna
The 700MW Zungeru HydroElectric power dam in Niger State, being built by the Federal Government will soon become operational, a Niger government team said.
According to Mrs Mary-Noel Berje, the Chief Press Secretary, Governor Bello’s chief of staff, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe visited the dam site in Zungeru in Wushishi Local Government Area of the state.
He was accompanied by some government officials.
The visit was to check the ongoing impoundment of one of the four turbines in December.
He said that the other three turbines would be delivered in 2022.
“This is a major milestone and to us in Niger state, it is worth celebrating, we do hope that when the project is delivered, it will improve electricity generation, improve economic activities and host of others,’’ Balarabe said.
He said the impoundment was a sign that the project would be completed within the specified time but raised concerns over the refusal of communities to vacate part of the area even after being compensated.
“These communities have been fully compensated, resettlement sites have been allocated to them, monies for construction given to them, I wonder what they are still doing there,’’ he added.
Mr Babatunde Adewumi, Consultant De-Crown West Africa Company Ltd and Representative of the Federal Ministry of Power, commended the state government for educating the communities on the importance of the project.
Adewumi said that in spite of security threat in the state, no incident had been recorded in the site and lauded the federal and state governments for providing adequate security.
He said the divergence channel had been closed to allow the reservoir to begin harvesting the water needed for power generation in December and assured that the deadline for the project would be met.
The hydroelectric facility being built with Chinese assistance on the upper and middle reaches of Kaduna River in the Niger State of Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Power and Steel of Nigeria is the owner and implementing authority of the project.
Estimated to cost 1.3 billion dollars, Zungeru Dam is the biggest hydropower project under construction in Nigeria.
It is also one of the biggest power projects in Africa to access preferential loan facility from the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) of China.
Building of the power plant started in May 2013 and is expected to take 60 months for completion.
The Zungeru project is estimated to generate 2.64 billion kWh of electricity a year, which will meet close to 10 per cent of Nigeria’s total domestic energy needs.
Apart from electricity generation, the project also intends to provide flood control, irrigation, as well as water supply and fish breeding facilities.
The project was expected to provide employment opportunities to more than 2,000 people during the peak construction period.
The Zungeru hydroelectric project site is located on the Kaduna River near Zungelu in the Niger State, approximately 150km away from Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria.