The Jebba Hydroelectric Power Station (JHEPS) is one of the three major hydropower stations in the country with a maximum average electricity generation value of 578.4 MW (level has never been reached). JHEPS is located on the river Niger, about 64 miles south of the Kainji dam, and approximately 350 km away from the capital Lagos. The dam was built between 1981 and 1983 and began to operate in 1984 .
A current socio-economic impact study (2020) now proved that the reservoir undermines the social and ecological integrity of the nearby communities’ resources and displaces local communities. More than 6,000 people (of 42 villages) were displaced and resettled after losing their properties worth millions of naira .
Due to the construction of Jebba dam, the surrounding communities were subject to several hardships because of flood occurrences and other environmental devastations caused by the dam since its construction .
Over the years hydropower-induced flooding contributed to the constant impoverishment of communities, which were forced to adapt to new coping mechanisms.
However, residents suffer from poor living conditions, such as housing shortages, which led to overcrowded living environments. Consequently, many members lost their sources of income and were left without means of livelihood and thus neglected as active stakeholders when it came to decision-making around development interventions .
After more than 50 years of the dam construction, more than a hundred host communities within Jebba still wallow in darkness with poor access to electricity . Despite living in the dam area, they in fact have not been connected yet to the national power grid.
Nonetheless, in 2017 the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a fund of $100 million for the upgrade/rehab of Kainji and Jebba projects even though the plants operate below their potential . In addition, the Mainstream Energy Company committed to spend $452 million for the project . The Federal Government of Nigeria endorsed a $32 million turbine rehabilitation project by Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL) in 2020 .
At the same time, protests of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) emerged in front of the Jebba plant against the restrictive management of MESL. The company, in fact, violently refuses unionism, which is highly demanded after alleged sacking and victimization of workers . Two members of the NUEE have brutally beaten up by security personnel of the company during a protest in front of the company offices .
UPDATE: In September 2020, an agreement was made upon the take-off of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission to address frequent flooding, also in the Jebba area . The Minister of Justice admitted that the flooding resulted in the loss of lives, property, agricultural production, and land degradation.
Even though the forecast for the regions predicts heavy flooding, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says the hydropower plants must run . This is in the interest of the investors Mainstream Energy Solution Limited. However, the decision poses extreme environmental risks to the lives downstream from the plant.