Niger: Youths shut down Zungeru dam over lack of jobs, compensation

Youths from host communities to the Zungeru Hydro Electric Power Dam, in Niger State, have staged peaceful demonstration and blocked all access roads to the dam site in protest of incomplete compensation and not offering employment to indigenes by management of the construction firm handling the project eight years after commencement.

It was learnt that the youths, under the umbrella of Gbadagun Youths Association, (GYS), issued a 72 hours’ ultimatum to the dam management on Thursday, while they blocked the roads leading to the project site and all quarry depots by Saturday.

The youths, in the issued ultimatum, signed by the Chairman of the association, Mohammed Sarki and the Secretary, Nura Mohammed, lamented that some communities already submerged by waters of the dam are yet to be relocated to new settlement areas, adding that “new resettlement site for Kamata/Walako has not been acquired or cleared by government to enable the dislodged communities resettle”.

According to them, resettlement areas of Nakudu, Kangonriyo and Maikago/Maigoge lack basic amenities, including water and education facilities insisting that apart from the fact that one borehole is not enough for the resettlements, most the boreholes are not functional.

Speaking with newsmen, the chairman of the association, Mohammed Sarki, explained that over 130 persons from more than 10 communities surrounding the dam have not received their compensation.

He said, “The contractors handling the project do not offer employment to indigenes of host communities but to non- indigenes. Instead they engage host communities in the disposal of waste materials such as plastics rubbers and wasted drums”.

He lamented that the host communities have lost all their ancestral artifacts and monuments including burial sites and Mosques to the project while compensation is gradually being swept under the carpet when the dam construction has reached advanced level.

He explained that the youths were tired of unfulfilled promises by government and dam management on payment of compensation, adding that in some cases many of our people are paid as low as N10,000 on the excuse that they will only pay for cash trees not farm lands.

He addrd: “we have been suffering as our people cannot buy new farm lands. We do not have access to health and education facilities”.

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