IN anticipation of the environmental disaster that may accompany volcanic activities from Lake Nyos in Cameroun, the Federal Government has put in place measures to control the threat of poisonous gas and flooding that may likely occur as a result of the eruption.
Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe, while inspecting the Kashimbila multipurpose dam site, said due to environmental disaster that may accompany the breakdown of Lake Nyos in Cameroun, which may push the poisonous water to states such as Taraba, Benue, Cross River, Kogi and Delta, the Federal Government has embarked on construction of buffer dam that would accommodate the poisonous water.
The dam is located between Kashimbila and Gomovo town on River Katsina Ala and Takum Local Council of Taraba State close to the country’s border with Cameroun.
In August 1986, there was eruption of Lake Nyos in Cameroun, which released poisonous gas and caused extensive flooding, resulting in the death of about 1,700 people, 4,000 herds of cattle, 330 sheep and thousands of other livestock in the villages of Cham, Nyos and Subum just downstream of the lake. Since then there had been international intervention and efforts by the Cameroonian government to de-gas the lake.
The minister said, “the idea of the dam came about as a result of response by the Nigerian government to the likely environmental challenges that we might encounter if the Lake Nyos in Cameroun breaks.”
A statement by the Information Officer in the Ministry, Mrs. Boade Akinola, said the lake is at a terrible stage and that if it breaks, it could cause a lot of disaster to Nigerians, adding that the Nigerian government is building the dam to contain the excess water that could be released in the event of the lake eventually breaking down.
Ochekpe further said that the Kashimbila multipurpose dam has an airstrip, constructed to facilitate the evacuation of people who are living in the area to a safe place in the event the lake breaks before the dam is completed.
She stated, “I will like Nigerians to know that when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan assumed office, the project was about 10 per cent completed but today, as we are standing here the dam is about 75 per cent completed and the President has made available sufficient funds to complete it.”
Speaking during the inspection, Chairman, Senate Committee on Water Resources, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, said that the National Assembly has been supporting Kashimbila Dam project, therefore the issue of funding would not be a challenge.
He added that the project when completed would be one of the landmark achievements of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He called on state governments to utilize the available completed dams in their states and provide treatment plant and reticulation of the water to the end users as well as make provision for irrigation facilities, as Federal Government could not do it alone.
While briefing the minister on progress of the work, Head of Engineering, SCC Nigeria Limited, the company handling the project, Engineer Efim Frank, said that they are working hard to achieve 100 per cent completion of the dam and hydropower projects before the end of the year.