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5 months after floods, Bayelsa battles to fix damaged infrastructure

Five  months after  the floods that inundated communities in Bayelsa State and other states of the   country,    authorities    in the    Niger …

Five  months after  the floods that inundated communities in Bayelsa State and other states of the   country,    authorities    in the    Niger    Delta    state    are still battling to fix the areas damaged by the disaster.

The   floods,    which    came late September last year and lasted till early November, destroyed farmlands, social amenities and infrastructure around Igbogene, Tombia, Amossoma, Azikoro, Elebele, Otuoke, Akenfa, Gbarain among others in Bayelsa.

Over 300 communities, according  to   data   from   the state government, were submerged by the floods.

Critical    infrastructures such as roads,  bridges, schools and hospitals were  damaged, and the state government  said over  one  million  residents were displaced following the disaster. Though the state government,   in  its  2023 budget,    has    earmarked funds for the repair of  the damaged infrastructure, residents  said   they   have   yet to see meaningful repairs and  remedial works.

A    resident    of    Igbogene Community   in  Yenagoa,  Mr Lucky Henry, told Daily Trust that  some  roads  in  the  area that  were  not  passable   after the  flood  have  been  repaired, but lamented   that     school infrastructures     that      were damaged by  the  flood  are  yet to be fixed by the government. “The     state      governmenton  its  own  has  tried  to  fix some  of  those  public utilities damaged   during   the    flood disaster, but  my  worry  is that private property was the most destroyed.

“About 70  per  cent  of what was    destroyed   belonged   to private   citizens,   and    most of   them   may   not   have   there sources to fix them.

“I  know  people who  could not  go  back   to  their   houses because  they  were   destroyed by     flood,     so     government should          also          consider compensating those people to fix their  property.  I think  by doing  so, it will help  assuage the trauma,” he said.

A  resident of     Elebele Road,   Tombra   Joseph,   said, “Personally,     I    lost    several properties      to     the     flood disaster,  but  I don’t  have  the resources  to repair  my house

at   the   moment,  and   I   am anxious as they predicted that this year’s  flood  will be higher than last year’s. If it’s true, that means people will face a lot of hardship.”

He, however, urged the state government   to    concentrate on  school facilities destroyed by  the  flood  so  that  children would be safe to learn. The      Technical     Adviser to    Governor     Douye     Diri on   Treasury,    Account    and Revenue,         Mr         Timipre Seipulou,  during the monthly transparency   briefing  of  the state    government   disclosed that   the   state    has   received N481   million  as  flood   relief donations from  organisations and   private  donors  in  three months.

He   said   the   government has     already     invested     the fund  in  the  repair   of  critical Infrastructures  damaged  by floods.

Daily   Trust   gathered  that Tombia-Amassoma road which  leads to the Niger  Delta University (NDU), and  other roads   in  Yenagoa  have   been repaired and put to use. Meanwhile,   the  Ecological Project   Office  (EPO)   under the Presidency  has reclaimed 16    hectares    of    land    and protected about 850 meters of shoreline  at Emadike  town in Ogbia   Local   Government  of Bayelsa State.

A        resident       of        the area,     a    former   House   of Representatives         member, Graham Ipigansi, said  during the     2012     flood     disaster, the   whole   community    was inundated     but      with      the reclamation    and     shoreline protection  works   now   at  95 per cent completion,    the community survived the 2022 flood.

“I   will    call    this    a   pilot project  in   the   Niger    Delta because, during the 2022 flood disaster, all  the  neighbouring communities  came    here    to take  refuge because it was  the only  community that  was  not submerged  by   water   in   the whole  of Bayelsa,” he said. Inspecting      the       project on   Monday,  the   Permanent Secretary    of     EPO,  Alhaji Shehu  Ibrahim,  said   “There is   history  behind  what   you are    seeing   today.    In   2012, most  of  this  community was submerged   by    that     heavy flooding,  but  by the time  we intervened    in   the   last   two years,   this   place   became   a sanctuary    for   most   of   the communities  that are here. “You can see the quality  of work that has been done here and you can see the extent of the   land   reclamation    done here,  more  than  16  hectares of land.”

He added that the community  now  has  enough land, and the people also have a sense of safety.

He said  there  are  a  lot  of areas     affected    by     erosion along  the coast of Ekole  creek, promising   that   EPO   would intervene     in    some     other communities as well.

“This     is     the     kind      of intervention    Mr     President always  encourages  us  to  do so  we  are  going  to  make  our report  available  to   him   for further action,” Ibrahim said.

The  president of  Azikel Dredging and   Construction Group,   Dr.   Eruani   Azibapu God bless,  who  is the  project contractor,   while welcoming the       EPO   team,   said   the

project  was the realization of his late father’s dream. He  said his  late father  was the chief of Emadike and had tried but in vain to protect the community from  the  menace of flooding.

He   said   the   project   was challenging    but   worth  the pain “because when the whole of   Bayelsa was   submerged, Emadike     survived.     About 18       communities  around Emadike    were      inundated, and   it  was   a  kind   of  refuge for    residents   fleeing   other villages.”

But       in       Tombia      and Agudama           communities, where    EPO    is    also    doing a      400      metres     shoreline protection   along    the    River Nun,  the permanent secretary expressed  displeasure  at  the quality of the work done.

He said the job was not done according to specification  and therefore, gave the contractor, MW    Global    Services    Ltd,  three   months   to   finish   the project.

However,    the     managing director    of     the     company, Stanley   Odenigbo,   assured the    EPO    and    the    Tombia and   Agudama   communities of  delivering   quality   project within the stipulated time. Nigeria’s    coast,   stretching 853km         through         seven southern    states      bordering the       Atlantic     Ocean,     is regularly  affected  by  erosion and   land   degradation;  with huge   costs   attributed  to  the environmental phenomenon.


By Terkula Igidi, Abuja & Bassey Willie, Yenagoa

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