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NEED FOR EFFECTIVE DAM SAFETY MEASURES IN NIGERIA

Dams and storages are built to serve the community and the environmental health of our streams. Therefore, the maintenance and safety of these assets is crucial both in terms of sustainable development of the economy and preservation of the environment.

Nigeria is well endowed with water resources. Both surface and underground water abound in the country. Rivers Niger and Benue and their numerous tributaries as well as other river systems, such as Gongola, Hadejia-Jamaare, Kaduna, Cross River, Sokoto-Rima, Ogun, Osun , Imo and others are good sources of surface water.

The existence of these rivers has enabled the construction of several dams in Nigeria for purposes of municipal and industrial water supply, irrigation, power generation and flood control, while most of the natives use the rivers for fishing.

The catastrophic nature of potential dam-failure devastation cannot be underestimated; therefore there is a need to address this issue critically. The large-scale flood damage and loss of life usually have larger societal and infrastructure impacts than merely adding up incremental damages.

The purpose of dam safety program is to verify throughout the operating Life of the project, the structural integrity of the dam and appurtenant structures, assuring protection of human life and property. Periodic surveillance discloses conditions, which might disrupt operation or threaten dam safety, in time for them to be corrected. When such conditions are encountered, it is necessary to determine the adequacy of structures and facilities to continue serving the purpose for which they were designed, and to identify the extent of deterioration as a basis for planning maintenance, repair or rehabilitation of such dams.

In conformity with laid down procedures of dam surveillance practice, one need to ask whether there are records of 5 – Yearly Comprehensive inspection (formal inspection), in-House routine dam surveillance, Emergency/Specific Inspection and Informal Inspection of any of our dams.

It is the opinion of this writer that if these procedures are not implemented in our dams efforts should be made to implement them.

The social costs and environmental impact of dams are felt mainly at the local level. These impacts are in different folds with one leading to the other.

With the dam failure and collapse and the resultant losses of lives and properties, most of Nigeria's staple food such as cowpea, rice, maize, and vegetable production are threatened.

It is against this background that there is the urgent need for study of dams’ safety in Nigeria. The study should look into the following areas: sedimentation; siltation; availability of reliable records of dam operations; existence of dam operational manuals and its implementation. River hydrology; factors contributing to release schedule; qualifications and experience of staff with key technical responsibilities; past performance and history of dams in terms of over- topping; flooding, major and minor rehabilitation work, adequacy of installed instrumentation in terms of reliability, state of disrepair, and recordings and monitoring should be addressed.

The study should also include remedial work undertaken to address critical concerns such as erosion, sedimentation, siltation, seepage, etc. availability of an emergency preparedness and response plan in case of failure, existing status and adequacy of spillways vis-ŕ-vis design assumptions and financial resources/budget.

For record and sustainable capacity building purposes research institutions can be commission to carry out this task as is usually done in the developed countries.

The catastrophic nature of potential dam-failure devastation cannot be underestimated; therefore, there is a need to address this issue critically. The large-scale flood damage and loss of life usually have larger societal and infrastructure impacts than merely adding up incremental damages.


Engr. J O Akanmu
Unilag PO Box 235
Civil & Environmental Engineering Department
University of Lagos
Phone:08077449034




 

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