Few months after the Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, flagged off the rehabilitation of the Eleyele Dam, Ibadan, the project is now in full swing.
An inspection tour to the site on Wednesday revealed that the process of increasing the width of the spillway channel to enhance its discharge capacity, was at an advanced stage.
The Commissioner for Environment, Chief Isaac Ishola, who led an inspection team including members of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP) as well as journalists, stated that the expansion of the dam was lomg overdue, having been untouched since its construction in 1942.
He stated that the ongoing rehabilitation is targetted at averting failure of the dam, “a development whose disastrous aftermaths are better imagined than experienced”
He explained that the project “is targetted at improving the dam’s capacity to hold more water and prevent flooding” observing that “the decrepit state of the Eleyele Dam contributed in no small way to the alarming flooding of 26th August, 2011”.
The joint venture contract being executed by Messrs CGC-CHWE as contractor and Tractebel Consultants, includes raising of the dam embankment crest from its existing height of 183.6m to 185.4m ask (1.8mof raising), erection of 1.0m high concrete Parapet wall on the embankment to prevent waves from overtopping embankment and increase on the discharge capacity of spillway from 368.9m3/s to 1269m3/s.
Apart from the expansion of the spillway channel, the project includes rehabilitation of the intake tower in order to fully restore its capacity to supply raw water from the reservoir to the treatment plant, replacement of all hydro-mechanical equipment inside the intake tower, rehabilitation of the scour tunnel for free discharge of water through the scour channel to spillway return channel and improvement in the access road within the water works premises.
The project consultant, Tractebel Stephane, who spoke to journalists said the heavy rains have slowed work down but said it would resume as soon as the rains subside. He stated that with the pace of the work, the project will be completed by December 2019.
The rehabilitation of the dam is part of a larger project under the World Bank assisted IUFMP to provide an integrated, comprehensive and enduring solution to the problem of flooding in Ibadan, in following the deadly 2011 flood.
The IUFMP has dredged and desilted up to 64 river courses and drain channels this year. It has also rebuilt major hydraulic infrastructure which were destroyed by the 2011 flood. Some of them include new bridges and culverts constructed at Ogbere-Pegba, Cele Rainbow, Shasha-Osajin and Ola-Adua.
It is also carrying out civil works on 13 other sites across Ibadan coupled with enlightnment campaigns to discourage indiscriminate dumping of refuse in water channels, building on flood plains and river setbacks and other flood causing behaviours.
Before visiting the dam, the inspection team visited other sites across the city where dredging has been done to access the impact.
Residents who spoke to journalists expressed joy at the flood control measures, profusely thanking the state government and the project handlers.
The Vice chairman of Omi Ahoyaya community where the Oganla-Alewe-Omolaso river was dredged, Oladele Iwindayo, said that “since the dredging was done two months ago, we now sleep with our two eyes closed”.
He said that many in the community who had abandoned their homes and relocated were now returning to claim their property.
“We were forced to call on government for help after suffering for many years. I joined them here in 2011 when I retired. And my first experience was a serious flood. We had invited contractors to do it three times but it failed. A lot of people were forced away. Our prayers were answered last year when we got a positive response from government.”
At Ijaye-Iseyin road where Odo Oba-Elebu stream was dredged, a resident of the community, Adebayo Olamoso, pointed out that 10 years ago, the stream was not as wide as it is now.
“The stream was a narrow one initially but it started to expand due to increased collection of water and people building houses along the banks. Before we knew it, it turned into a major river that started overflowing its banks and flooding people’s homes. But we thank government for coming to our rescue. I commend the governor and the engineers, they have given us rest of mind. Even in heavy rains, the river is wide enough to contan the volume of water.”
The commissioner for environment at a press conference after the tour, however warned that the dredging are just paliative measures. He said it should be supported by positive action by residents.
According to him, “going by the NIHSA Flood outlook forecast, this year’s rainy season is likely to extend beyond the usual period, and the latter rains are most likely to be more torrential in volume. Our people are required now, more than ever before, to clear their surroundings and street drain channels, avoid dumping waste indiscriminately, ensure they patronise government approved waste disposal contractors, subscribe to the One Household, One Waste Bin policy, avoid building on flood plains, ensure they obtain building approvals from statutory bodies, among others”.
He advised people to be watchful when buying land, saying that unsuspecting buyers usually acquire land in flood prone areas during the dry season when the signs are not there.