The high cost of diesel to power four units of 1.5 KVA generators used to irrigate 680 hectares of farmland was the major challenge that led to the closure of the Middle Ogun Irrigation Project in Iseyin, Oyo State.
Mr Tony Balogun, the Zonal Officer of Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority, said this on Thursday while briefing a team from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission(FRC) in Iseyin.
The commission is on a tour of Federal Government projects in Oyo State to ascertain their compliance with fiscal responsibility regulations and the Procurement Act.
Balogun explained that the project, which was inaugurated on May 26, 2006 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, functioned for only two years.
Although the project was initially designed to cover 12,000 hectares of farmland, 3,000 hectares have irrigation facilities while 680 hectares were put to use during the two years when irrigation farming took place.
He said farmers withdrew from the farmland when they were running at a loss due to the hike in the price of diesel.
”For instance, each of the 1.5KVA generator consumed 200 litres of diesel in one hour; imagine how many litres each generator will consume under eight hours per day to pump water from the dam to the field.
”We have made several efforts to source for alternatives to the generating plants that will be more cost effective.
”We suggested solar power so that the generators would serve as backup but we are still hopeful that government would intervene, ” he stated.
On whether there had been annual budgetary allocation for the project, Mr Bello Garuba of the Ministry of Water Resources, said no vote had been released for the irrigation project.
Garuba, however, said that the resuscitation of the project would enhance the Federal Government’s efforts to improve food sufficiency and also provide employment.
The leader of the FRC delegation, Mr Ibrahim Dauda, said the team would make its recommendations based on what it saw and reports received from the officers at the project site.
Dauda, a Director in FRC, implored the River Basin management to provide adequate security for the four generators and other facilities at the project site.
The team also inspected the 1.75 km federal road project in Saki West Local Government Area.
The Representative Engineer on the road project, Mr Omotayo Awosanya, said the N349.9 million project had reached 98.88 per cent completion stage, adding that N296.6 million was the total amount paid to the contractor.