A Bill to amend the provisions of the River Basins Authorities Act 2004 to create an additional River Basin Development Authority in the South East region scaled the Second Reading at Senate Plenary on Tuesday.
The Bill, which was sponsored by former Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, with the entire members of the South East Caucus of the Senate as co-sponsors, seeks to divide the existing Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority into two, namely, Imo River Basin Development Authority to carter for Imo and Abia States, and Anambra River Basin Development Authority to carter for Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States.
In the lead debate presented on Ekweremadu’s behalf by a co-sponsor, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu), the sponsors said: “We have at present 12 River Basin Development Authorities for the six geopolitical zones of the country and the distribution of the 12 authorities leave the South East zone with only one, the Anambra -Imo River Basin Development Authority.
“It is now certain that one River Basin Development Authority is grossly inadequate to carter for the five states of South East. The bill seeks, therefore, among other things, to create an additional River Basin Development Authority to carter for some States of the South East.
“Besides seeking to divide the Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority to better serve the region, the Bill seeks to realign the jurisdiction of the various River Basins Development Authorities for ease of reference and administration and to provide the legal basis for some of the existing River Basin Development Authorities such as the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority comprising of Kwara and Kogi with headquarters in Ilorin, which have no law creating them”.
They added that the new River Basin Development Authority, when established, would benefit the areas under its jurisdiction by boosting agricultural extension as well as the provision of dams for irrigation and power generation, rural feeder roads development, among others.
Meanwhile, River Basins Development Authorities are established to, among others, undertake comprehensive development of both surface and underground water resources for multipurpose use with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of floods and erosion and for watershed management; construct, operate and maintain dams, dykes, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems and handover all lands to be cultivated under the irrigation schemes to the farmers; supply water from the Authority’s Storage Schemes to all users for a fee; construct, operate and maintain roads and bridges linking project sites; and develop and keep up-to-date and comprehensive water resources master plan as well as water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the River Basin concerned.