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Flooding: Kogi communities on edge as rainy season beckons

Over 100 communities in at least 10 local government areas of Kogi State were ravaged by floods last year. And with the rains about to…

Over 100 communities in at least 10 local government areas of Kogi State were ravaged by floods last year. And with the rains about to set in, residents of these communities are anxious about facing another disaster once the season intensifies.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) in its 2023 seasonal climate forecast report, warned of another round of flooding this year.

With this forecast of extreme weather events occurring,  many communities are already apprehensive of their fate, saying the 2022 episode is still being felt, with no end in sight.

Communities in Kotonkarfe, Ibaji, Lokoja, Bassa and Ofu, among others in the state, are presently entertaining fears as the rainy season is approaching, coupled with the NiMET prediction, saying,  their fate now hangs in the balance.

Some of the residents who spoke with our reporter said the environmental hazards caused by the 2022 flooding are yet to be remediated.

For instance, the main feeder roads in Ibaji communities have been eroded, with potholes and shrubs taking over. A policeman and a female corps member serving in the community were reported to have lost their lives a few months ago when a vehicle they were travelling in rammed into one of the gullies created by last year’s flood at Anele and Ogba-Ojigbo settlements on the Idah-Onyedega road.

The chairman of Kogi State Council of Chiefs,  Ata of Igala, HRM, Alaji Mathew Opaluwa Ogwuche Akpa II, said the destruction of lives and property by last year’s flooding was as worrisome as the degradation of the environment in the areas.

The monarch bemoaned the fate of his subjects in Ibaji, Idah, Ofu, Bassa and Igala Mela-Odolu who, he said,  are still suffering from environmental hazards occasioned by last year’s flooding.

The royal father stated that all the feeder roads in the affected communities were washed away and infrastructure in most of the communities had virtually collapsed, causing untold hardships and making life not worth living in the communities.

“Environmental degradation by last year’s flooding is fatal in Kotonkarfe and  Ibaji communities, as their land was submerged fully. Over 80 per cent of the inhabitants in these councils are currently suffering from untold hardships because of the havoc caused by the flood.

“Roads linking to these communities have been washed away, and infrastructure of social amenities has collapsed, crippling their socio-economic activities,” he said.

The monarch, while receiving the management of the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) who were on a stock-staking tour in his kingdom last week, urged the federal and state governments as well as corporate organisations to come to the aid of the communities.

The Ata Igala, therefore, asked for more action from the agency to save the communities from the effects of climate change as evidenced by the flooding.

He, however, appreciated the management of HYPPADEC for providing assistance to victims in flood-ravaged areas, saying, their consistency has rekindled the hope of the flood victims.

In its efforts to mitigate this year’s flooding in the face of   NiMET’s warning of flooding, the management of HYPPADEC has visited flood-prone areas and the communities affected last year to provide mitigation.

According to the Managing Director of the agency, Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa,  the commission has enlisted the services of experts to identify areas of possible intervention for over 100 communities in the 10 local government areas affected by flooding in the state.

 He said as part of the agency’s proactive measures, the commission had embarked on a critical assessment and appraisal of the six most affected local government areas in the state, using experts from within and outside the commission to identify areas of intervention to mitigate on the likely effects of the flooding.

Yelwa led the management team of HYPPADEC to visit Kotonkarfe, Mozum and Onyedega, the headquarters of Kogi, Bassa and Ibaji local governments respectively.

The commission’s team met the traditional rulers and stakeholders, including officials of the Ministry of Environment and other government agencies to identify interventions that could be implemented before the rains set in.

“We have done a lot of studies and met a lot of consultants to ensure that what we want to do here and in other parts of the state will permanently solve the flooding problems, and the construction of houses for the targeted victims meets the safety standard in conformity with global best practices,”  he added

 He stressed further that “the findings of HYPPADEC had revealed that communities in Ibaji LGA for decades have suffered untold hardships, ranging from lack of access roads to inability to carry out development in the zone as a result of the impact of natural disaster, such as heavy flooding and erosion menace experienced on yearly.

“We have seen the deplorable condition of the access road to Ibaji, which is very pathetic. We will make our impact towards road rehabilitation as well as the provision of boreholes, mitigation of devastating flooding, among others to boost socio-economic activities in Ibaji and others to improve the living conditions of the people.

“The terrible situation has placed Ibaji LGA in a disadvantaged position as the worst hit in terms of natural calamities above other HYPPADEC member communities in Kogi State, hence our consideration is to focus more on giving special attention and assistance to the zone.”

According to the Commissioner of Environment, Mr Victor Omofaye, the state is aware of the degradation of the environment in communities, saying many feeder roads have caved in, including infrastructure deficit in many communities living along the rivers Niger and Benue coastlines.

“We saw the hazards of this flooding on our way to Ibaji communities. The road has collapsed. It’s traumatic. Last year, we turned back, as we could not reach the headquarters of the council at Onyedega because of the deplorable state of the road,” Omofaye said.

He said the state government has not rested on its oars in fixing infrastructure decay as a result of the perennial flooding in the affected communities.

“The situation needs urgent response. The state government has been crying out to the federal government and agencies to assist in security, education, medical care, and other services associated with flooding,” he said.


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