After the flood disaster in Adamawa and Taraba states brought about by the release of water from the Ladgo Dam by the Camerounian authorities, attention should shift to the Kainji Dam. There is palpable worry that any mishandling of the dam may render the flooding from Lagdo Dam a child's play. Already, rivers Niger and Benue, even without an overflow from the Kainji, are causing havoc. The Kainji has three channels of water discharge: through the turbine for power generation, the spillway with four gates for flood control, and the navigation lock for ships passing through the dam from Upper Niger to Lower Niger.
Two government officials involved in the Kainji project -- the chief executive officer of Kainji Hydro Electric Plc, Engr Reuben Akinwunmi, and the deputy director in charge of dams and reservoir operations in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mr Kabir Moyi -- have been assuring Nigerians that the dam is structurally in good shape. Akinwunmi rebuffed claims that the natural channels of the dam were blocked, adding that, before the onset of the rains, the management took precautions to flush the channels, especially the drain-holes in the concrete gravity dam, the relief wells, standpipes and seepage chambers located at the fill embankments to safeguard the structural integrity of the dam. Mr Moyi agreed with him, adding that "to avert flood in the future, there is need to open up the blocked natural water channels across the country so that water will stop moving into farms and houses".
Maybe pro-active steps have been taken by these officials. However, it should be noted that this is a dam which construction began in 1964 and was completed in 1968 at a total cost of $209 million; a quarter of the sum was used to resettle displaced people. But government has not spent any money on clearing the natural water channels in the Kainji Dam since 2008. In the 2008 budget of the Ministry of Power, N340 million was earmarked for Kainji Auxiliary rehabilitation by Alsthon. The contract was related to power. Other allocations to Kainji were for the extension of Kainji 330 KVA sub-station and 132KV DC to New Bussa at the rate of N720 million. No other item referred to the rehabilitation of the natural water channel. Also, in 2009, the only item about Kainji Dam was the "completion of the rehabilitation and repairs of power plants," which was supposed to cost government N850 million. In the 2012 budget, the neglect continued as one of the two items related to Kainji Dam was a World Bank rehabilitation of units of IG5, G6 and IG12 station with counterpart funding to the tune of N350 million. The second was tagged "plant auxiliary spares and annual maintenance" for which N402, 983,150 was set aside.
It is not likely that these funds were released. Yet, we know that blocked natural water channels are the main causes of flooding. Everything must be done to keep Kainji safe. A stitch in time saves nine.