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08.08.2013 General News

Constraints to Vea Dam rehabilitation resolved

By Daily Graphic
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The bottlenecks that were stalling rehabilitation works at the Vea Dam in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region have been removed.

There were disagreements between the contractor and some community members over access to boulders needed for the rehabilitation of the dam wall and the unwillingness of the Tindanas (landowners) for rocks in the vicinity of the dam to be used as raw material for rehabilitation works.

Traditional priests in the area also claimed that the rocks could not be used because the rocks represented the abode of the local gods.

The Upper East Regional Co-ordinating Council (UERCC), whose intervention led to the resolution of the disagreements, has subsequently written to the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to arrange for the contractor to complete his work and save the dam from possible collapse.

In April, this year, the Daily Graphic carried a news item from the Upper East Region that the Vea Irrigation Dam Project could collapse if rehabilitation works were not  done before the rainy season began.

The rehabilitation of the dam, which is being sponsored from a $2 million Nordic Development Fund facility, was awarded to Eunitack Services Limited in 2010 and should have been completed in December, 2012.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to the site revealed that the dam was in bad shape, with sections of its walls developing gullies.

It is the fear that the dam will be destroyed, with the subsequent effect on the lives of the people who depend on it, that compelled the UERCC to step in to help remove all the bottlenecks.

The UERCC convened a series of consultative meetings with the necessary stakeholders, including community members, on the issues and at one of such meetings held on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, which had in attendance representatives of the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs, a number of issues were agreed upon, among which was the need for the contractor to go back to site to execute the project, since the community members had pledged to cooperate and not to disrupt the  process.

The meeting also agreed that despite the assurance given by the community, adequate security be provided to ensure that the contractor and his workers were well protected during the period.

It was also agreed that a team was  sent to the community to assess those houses which would possibly be affected by the contractor's activities for possible compensation, which the contractor confirmed had already been done.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Upper East Regional Chief Manager of the GWCL, Mr Ken Agbettoh, said the challenge was that the consultant  had returned to Norway due to the expiration of the contract period.

'The deadline for the contract was August, last year, and we had to plead for extension to December, 2012. Still the contractor couldn't complete work as a result of the challenges. As it stands, we  have to factor in other costs and see if we can get the sponsors to extend the financial assistance for the project,' he said.

He said another challenge was that the work should have been done during the dry season when the water level in the reservoir was low, adding that now it will be difficult for the contractor to make progress  as the rainy season has set in.

Scope of work
The contractor was expected to reinforce the walls of the dam, particularly those upstream, and change the valves to enhance water processing and production.

The dam, which was constructed in the 1970s, has not seen any major repairs. Apart from the facility being used for irrigation purposes, it is also the major source of drinking water for people in the Bolgatanga municipality and its environs.

The canals and laterals that convey water from the dam to the farms have virtually broken down. Water does not get to the farmers to enable them to irrigate their farms and many farmers have consequently abandoned their farmlands.

The irrigation area is zoned into low lands for rice farming and uplands for the cultivation of tomato, soya beans, cabbage, lettuce, pepper and other vegetables.

Millet and groundnuts also used to be cultivated in the area.

Impact of the Project
The Vea Irrigation facility used to be a major source of livelihood, not only for the people of Vea but also the entire Bongo District and the Bolgatanga municipality where most people engaged in dry season farming, including rice, tomato, onion and pepper cultivation, among others.

Due to the deterioration of the facility,  majority of the farmers are unable to farm. As a result, most of them, including the youth, have left for the southern part of the country to seek  greener pastures.

It is hoped that when the facility is rehabilitated, it will empower the people, particularly the youth, to go into farming, especially during the dry season, instead of migrating elsewhere to do menial jobs.

By Benjamin Xornam Glover/Daily Graphic/Ghana

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