Rivers Niger and Benue dredging.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has signed contract for the dredging of Rivers Benue and Niger. The Minister for Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, gave the indication while fielding questions from journalists during his visit to Benue State, to commission the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority’s rice processing plant and the pilot Songhai Integrated Model farm in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Adamu assured that the project will address the flooding challenges in the country and provide irrigation for farmers. He stated that the purpose of the two projects was to expand the capacity of agriculture. In his words, “We have initiated the process, in the long run that might help with flood control, improve navigation and maybe, reclaim some lands for irrigation and agriculture purposes”. He added that the project will take a long time to achieve. While the contract for River Benue is awarded for 50 million Euros, River Niger was awarded for 14 billion dollars; and the contractors are expected to complete the project within the next 20 months.
The Benue River, which flows from Adamawa hill down to Makurdi, has become shallow in recent years, causing flooding in surrounding areas. Similarly, there have been water rise levels in River Niger causing many residents of the coastal communities to relocate to holding centres established for victims of flood disasters. The Commissioner for Rural Development, Benue State, Engr. Victor Ukaha, recently said, in a television interview that he lost his personally-cultivated rice plantation in two different locations, to the 2022 River Benue flood. He posited that the River Benue bed had become so shallow that it can no longer contain water coming from the lagoon. He submitted that the dredging will bring a lot of loss to farmers and communities, as they have been instructed to stay away from such areas.
He added that the people living in the areas around the River bank had to be evacuated at the warning of imminent floods. He hoped that after the dredging, the displaced farmers and communities would be able to go back to how business used to be. In 2012 and 2022, Benue, Kogi, Rivers, Taraba, Kebbi, among other states, recorded great flooding leading to loss of farmlands, property and lives. Earlier in 2021, the Kebbi State Government had appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently dredge the River Niger, to avoid flooding in river-link communities of the state.