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FORUM Anxiety in States as fear of flood mounts

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There are palpable anxiety in states across the country as heavy rains begin to fall thus leading to fears of flood.

In Enugu State, no fewer than ten communities in Ayamelum local government area have been flooded. Farm produce have already been washed away in riverine communities like Innoma, Odekpe, Igbokenyi, Ode, Ukwala among others.

All those areas  including six other local government areas in the state, were equally affected, during the 2012 and 2018 flood disasters.

The local government areas prone to flooding in Anambra State are, Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Awka North, Orumba North, Orumba South, Ihiala, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ogbaru.

Though, the residents have not started relocating as it used to be before now, but crops like the yams, vegetables, potatoes, maize, Okra  and others are all gone.

The President General of one of the affected Communities, Mr Ugboja Patrick, told The Nation that the major cause of it was lack of early rainfall.

He said before now, farmers had started harvesting their produce before the major flooding in July, adding that only those who live close to the river are the only people harvesting already.

For Mr Simon Offordile, the State Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, flooding always affect these communities: Anaku, Amaikwe, Umerum, Ifite Ogwari Umueje, Omor, Agbaje and others.

When The Nation called the state Chairman of the Nigeria Red Cross, Prof Peter Katchy, he said there was no cause for alarm.

The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, said the government is ready. He said the State Emergency Management Agency SEMA, has all it takes to combat any flood menace in the state.

In Yobe State, which is also prone to perennial flooding, the state has however taken proactive step as the State Environmental Protection Agency (YOSEPA) has been repositioned to mitigate the ugly cases of flooding.

He said, “Sometimes even before government interventions, communities come together and clear their drainages and later report to us that they want us to go and evacuate the debris because they lack the capacity. What the community and the agency do is collaborative and symbiotic.”

In Ondo State, some streets, particularly in Akure metropolis are known for flooding on annual basis. Such streets include Odo-Ikoyi, Aiyedun, Eyin ala, Isinkan Airways and Ijoka road. However, floods in Akure, have been linked to drainage failure and building of houses close to river banks.

Last year, a middle aged man lost his life while rescuing a pregnant woman at Eyinala area of Akure South local government.

Also, at Oke-Aro, in the same Akure, two infants, Bamidele Rasheed and Marvellous James were reportedly swept away by flood during a down pour which lasted for almost one hour.

Many observers noted that lack of sewage system is one of the contributing factors to the problem. However, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Segun Ajiboye said Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was determined to ensure that the rains do not cause any havoc in the state.

Towards this end, the state ministry of environment is going around all the 18 local government areas to sensitize the people ahead of the rains.

The state agency in charge of clearing the drainages and all waterways according to him, is very active in ensuring that waterways are free of debris.

The early rains that came in January in Lagos many see as a pointer to the fact that the state is going to experience severe rainfall this year. Expectedly, with the rains have come floods in various parts of the state with people in the Lekki-Epe axis seem to be worst hit.

Residents and workers in the axis tell sad tales of gridlock, completely impassable roads and damage of vehicles owing to the flooding problem. Mr Emmanuel Umoru who lives in the Sango-Tedo area, said that the rains have affected them in no small way. And “commuting has been very terrible since the rains came.”

According to him, “The flooding problem we are having in Sango-Tedo was not this bad last year because, last year there were a lot of lands that hadn’t been developed, so when the rains came, they mostly flowed into those undeveloped lands and stayed there. This year however, most of these hitherto undeveloped lands have started being developed and people building houses are not building drainages. So, now the water doesn’t see anywhere to hide and are on the road. The road leading to my house, Ogombo road has totally collapsed. Even a truck will sink on that road. It is completely impassable. As a result, we have to follow alternative routes, which are longer and equally bad.”

Flooded Calabar

Cross River State, especially the state capital, Calabar, has always been known for its steady rainfall, even during the dry season. The situation has always led to flooding in many areas across the state. In previous years, thousands across the state have often been displaced, while property and farmland have been destroyed by floods, caused by heavy rainfall.

However, the rains this year have so far been benign, but this still has led to the problem of flooding, especially in the capital city.

Farmers in the hinterlands have already started counting their losses due to the flood problem and fear for their source of livelihood. For instance farmers along the Offor-Ekokol axis of Mkpani Community in Yakurr local government area in the central district of the state have cried out saying floods have destroyed their farms and crops and may cause shortage of food if not attended to.

A farmer from the area, Stephen Nniga, complained, “Our farms are along the Ikom-Calabar Road near Mkpani junction. Right now all the farms are gone. The yams, cassava and all other food crops we have are all gone and the water has taken over. I don’t know what is going to happen now. We are looking at hunger now. If it continues that means all hope would be lost.”

Several households have been forced to vacate their homes because of flooding caused by the rains. Affected parts of Calabar South including Target, Ebito, Atu, Musaha, Murray, Nelson Mandela, Yellow Duke Streets among others including farmlands at Anantigha. At Anantigha, the farmers can no longer harvest their crops because most of the crops like maize and cassava have been washed away. The situation had caused an artificial lake behind the Anantigha market and several houses are at risk as the rains continue.

In Calabar Municipality affected areas include Asari Eso, Essien Town, Murtala Mohammed Highway, State Housing Estate, Efio-Ette junction, Parliamentary Village etc. Though Calabar has the advantage that the water level goes down soon after the rain stops, the effect is still far reaching as those affected are often lose a lot and are left stranded.

Acting Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency, Princewill Ayim, advised people living in flood prone areas to move to higher grounds.

Oyo and Ogun States

In parts of Ogun State, communities have started constructing bulwarks to ward away flood. In Ilo-Ifako area of the state, the Ilupewo, Alafia and other surrounding communities have spent over N2 million to construct drainage which has been making the access road flooded in the past years.

Up until recently, Ibadan has unfair tales to tell on the issue of flooding. It is a recurring decimal in the ancient city from time immemorial. This has been traceable to, among other things, heavy downpour, improper waste dumping, poor drainage, location of houses in floodplains, deforestation, growing number of households, the city’s peculiar topographical structure, etc.

Against the background of the foregoing, governments, residents and all stakeholders have always been saddled with the responsibility of preparing for and guarding against flooding in successive years in order to prevent it or mitigate its untoward risks.

With the setting up of the Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP), a World Bank assisted project, whose overarching mandate is to change the narrative of perennial flood disasters in Ibadan Metropolis, the stage was set to embark on a systematized and comprehensive programme of actions to combat flooding in the city.

The initiative was borne out of the fact that Ibadan has witnessed several disastrous flooding incidents since 1933, with successive governments engaging in measures which turned out to be more palliative than curative. It was in view of that, that the IUFMP mandate was aimed at providing fundamental and far-reaching solutions to the perennial band incessant flooding that had become a characteristic of Ibadan.

In Ilorin, Kwara State, residents of Olunlade Area on Thursday lamented the havoc by flood on their property as buildings, cars and shops were destroyed after a heavy downpour.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the area experienced downpour around 4 p.m. on Wednesday and lasted for about three hours.

Some of the victims, who spoke separately with NAN expressed sadness over the terrible occurrence and damage done to their property.

One of the victims, Mr Femi Olaoye, whose house was taken over by flood, said he was helpless as the water entered his sitting room and kitchen.

“I was bitter and sad as there is nothing I could do to stop the flood from entering my house. It was only me and my two children at home. I wept bitterly to witness such terrible occurrence.

“All my electronics were damaged beyond repair. Even the bedroom has turned to swimming pool. I am confused,” he said.

However, SEMA has warned Enugu residents against economic activities along flood plains

Mrs Nkechi Eneh, the Executive Secretary of Enugu State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA),  advised residents in the state against carrying out economic activities along flood plains.

She gave the advice during a sensitisation campaign on flood in Enugu South Local Government Area of the state.

The executive secretary also advised against dumping of refuse in the drains and building along flood paths.

She said that the awareness campaign was sequel to the 2019 Annual Flood Outlook released by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).

She said that the flood outlook identified the council area as one of the probable areas that would be hit by flood .

“The rains are here and flood is imminent. So, we are here to equip you with basic risk reduction measures,” she said.

Eneh advised the people to look out for early warning signals, adding that when such occurred, “those who reside in low-lying areas should relocate”.

She said that the agency would work in liaison with Enugu State Waste Management Agency (ESWAMA) to ensure that waste bins and incinerators were provided at areas they were lacking.

Earlier, Mr Sunday Ugwu, the Chairman, Enugu South Local Government Area,  said that the council would soon come up with a task force against the blockage of drains.

He said that the council had witnessed its fair share of flood disaster, adding that a resident of the area lost her life following a recent downpour.

The chairman said that he would instruct head teachers of public primary schools to monitor the weather condition before releasing their pupils after school.

Mr Chukwuma Ibik, a resident of the area, appealed for government intervention on building on flood plains.

He said that while efforts needed to be made to open blocked drains, a task force should check indiscriminate dumping of refuse along flood plains, especially during a downpour.

In Sokoto, the National Emegency Management Agency (NEMA) in collaboration with National Food Security Council distributed farming inputs to 246 flood victims in Goronyo Local Government area of Sokoto State.

Presenting the items to the State Government, NEMA Head of Operation, Sokoto Zonal office, Mr Kofowola Soleye, said 567 victims affected by the disaster in 2018 were expected to benefit from the gesture in Goronyo council area.

Soleye said the present beneficiaries were those screened and enumerated so far while others would get their share of the gesture after the processes.

He explained that the effort was to cushion the victims’ hardships and ensure that they return to their respective farms since the 2019 cropping season has begun.

No rain in Kano yet

However, the commercial nerve centre of Kano is yet to witness a major down pour that could warrant flooding. For some months now the state only witnessed light rainfalls that never lasted long.

However, the light rains are mostly prominent around the southern parts of the state ascribed as the food basket of the state.

According to NIMET, the raining season will start in July and will be stronger in August and eventually terminates within September and October.

However, farmers have started preparation for the next farming season in the affected areas, while in areas where the rains have started, the farmer have since planted their seeds.

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