The Zobe Dam was built and commissioned 38 years ago, but the water plant, meant to supply the needs of major towns in Katsina have remailed fallow for three decades, until now.
To meet 50 per cent of the drinking water needs of Katsina State, the government initiated the Zobe Water Project.
The Federal Urban Water Project started in 1992. It was supposed to take three years to complete. It took three decades.
Lack of funding, poor government policies of implementations, lack of commitments and corruption, among others, contributed to delaying the project, putting people of the statement through enormous hardship.
The idea of constructing a dam to boost water supply came up in the late 1970s during the Obasanjo regime. But it was built and commissioned in 1983 by the then Nigerian president Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari but the water project, which would supply water to major towns in the state remained uncompleted.
The plan was to use it for irrigation, fishing, a source of water supply to Katsina City as well as a hydroelectric power supply.
After 38 years, the mighty dam that has 179Mca storage capacity and irrigation potential of 10,000 hectares is still under-utilized.
Only this May 2020 was the water supply project commissioned.
However, investigations by Daily Trust reveals that although the dam structure, which has a height of 19m and a total length of 2,750m appeared firm, it is still not being fully used for local irrigation or power generation.
Also, in some areas such as the Eastern coast, the dam has shrunk by as much as 300,000 square meters and local farmers have moved into now farm the land that used to be underwater.
Musa Dahiru is a resident of Sabon-layi in Katsina. He said before the Zobe plant was commissioned last year, there had not been a water supply in his area for many years.
“For more than 15 years I used to buy water for domestic use from ordinary truck pushers popularly known as ‘mai ruwa’. But we are happy today there is water. Even though it does not come regularly but it is helping us a lot.”
Another resident of Tsohuwar Tasha, Malam Adamu also confirmed that after the commissioning of the plant last year, they used to enjoy water supply.
Adamu said, “The supply is steady three times weekly. Their charges are also relatively affordable but we want them to improve so that we can get water every day.”
Katsina State Commissioner of Water Resources, Hon. Musa Adamu Funtua expressed regret over how long it took the government to wipe away the tears of the masses. Speaking to Daily Trust in Katsina, Hon. Adamu said that the project was executed by the Katsina State government in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
Hon. Adamu also added that right now the main purpose of the Zobe Dam water plant is to provide water for Dutsin-ma and Katsina city.
“Yes, I agree with you that the dam has been underutilized because previous administrations, each one of them, came with one or another perception. But every one of them believed in the completion of the project. The problem was that some of them created additional jobs, especially in the irrigation sector. That was why the project was very slow.”
The commissioner who also holds the title of ‘Dan Kafin Katsina’ added, “Some of them awarded contracts for the extension of the irrigation channels. And it reached up to 27 hectares. In which some of the channels can easily be accessed while people in other cases have to use their machines to tap the water from them. During the late Umaru Musa ‘Yar’adua second tenure as a governor, he decided to extend the water project for the completion of phase 1b.
“Today the dream has come to reality. reality in the sense that based on negotiations with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the phase 1a project, which interconnects Dutsin-ma and Katsina city is 100% completed. It was commissioned last year under the administration of Governor Aminu Masari. And since then, it has been handed over to the Katsina State Ministry of Water Resources for operations.”
While the first 1a might have been completed, would the people have to wait another 28 years for the completion of phase 1b?
Hon. Adamu explained that the Katsina State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Ministry of Water Resource for the execution and the completion of phase 1b of the project, which covers Kafin-soli Dutsinma. He however declined to mention exactly when this project would be completed.
The Managing Director of Katsina State Water Board Authority, Ibrahim Dasuki Abubakar explained that currently, the Zobe water project does not meet the demand of Katsina city.
Dauski said, “Right now, Katsina City alone demands 130,000,000 litres daily. But Zobe dam currently supplies 40,000,000 litres to Katsina City daily and 5,000,000 litres to Dutsin-ma daily. While Ajia Dam also supplies 35,000,000 litres to Katsina City daily. Now you can see that both Zobe and Ajia treatment plants are only able to supply half the demand of Katsina City alone.
“That is the reason why we rationally distribute the water within the city turn by turn. This is normal when it comes to the area of water supply and distribution. Because I don’t think that there is anywhere in this country where the water supply meets its demand.”
It is clear the Phase 1a of the project is far from being adequate for the state and phase 1b remains essential to adequate water supply in the city.
Dasuki explained that currently, their main challenge is that of power, which he said is making it difficult for the plants to work efficiently.
“Challenges are always there. But right now, our main challenge at both Zobe and Ajia Dams is that of power supply. Because it is not stable. Sometimes it comes with low voltage which cannot power some of our machines. But for Ajia Dam, we thank God that the Katsina State government had signed an MOU with a contractor who would very soon inject a sub-station transformer that has about 7.5 MGA to boost the power.
He added that other minor challenges such as old pipes have to be addressed and they are already working on re-piping both the main and distribution pipes in some areas.
With the old pipes already leaky and eaten away by decay in some parts, questions have arisen as to the sustainability of the plant.
The Plant Manager, Zobe Treatment plant, Abubakar Ibrahim who took Daily Trust around the plant and explained that the facility is well equipped with modern machines that can serve for many years.
“As you can see by yourself all the machines and equipment here are new. Our laboratory too is well equipped with modern apparatus. That is why I can tell you that this is one of the best water treatment plants in Nigeria. We work 24 hours here, and we pump 45,000,000 litres to Dutsin-ma and Katsina city daily,” he said.