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Impending flooding: How ready are states?

Flooding is a perennial chaotic occurrence across the country. As a natural disaster phenomenon, it usually wrecks untold havoc on lives and property in diverse…

Flooding is a perennial chaotic occurrence across the country. As a natural disaster phenomenon, it usually wrecks untold havoc on lives and property in diverse proportions, especially in areas that are prone to it. As the rainy season sets in, flooding is imminent in vulnerable areas and would come with tales of  horror that characterise it.  People that live in such  volatile environments are already  in trepidation. Daily Trust on Sunday examines the extent of readiness of states in stemming the tide, with a view to proffering lasting solutions.

Kano

In Kano, certain areas are prone to flooding. The major areas include Baban Gwari  Round About Drainage and Jakara Stream. Both places pose worries for Kano residents as they are perennial sources of flooding.  

Residents of  the areas lament during rainy season because despite repairs every year, the drainage and stream pose dangers to them.

In its efforts to avert flooding crisis, the state government has launched an annual campaign to de-silt drainages and streams across the state.  

Our correspondent gathered that this year, it launched a drainage-cleaning campaign at the Baban Gwari Drainage and Jakara Stream.   

Government said it had cleared 33.6 kilometres of drainages within 20 days of its annual drainage clearance exercise.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), had embarked on de-silting of major and minor drains within and around the state capital.

According to the Communications Officer of  NEWMAP, Maryam Abdulkadir,  the exercise was aimed at removing all sorts of blockage to ensure free flow of water during heavy rains to avert flooding. 

“The areas proposed for the exercise comprise Baban-Gwari and its surroundings; Maiduguri Road; Jakara Stream; Mazugal Road; Gogau Stream; Palace Road, Kwanar Sabo-Tsamiyar Boka Road and Getsi Stream,” she said.

 

Other areas, she added, included Gwarzo Road, Shagari Quarters, Sokoto Road  as well as Shekara Secondary School Road.

The Commissioner for Environment, Dr Kabiru Ibrahim Getso, said as a part of preparations by the state ahead of this year’s rainy season, it had embarked on a cleaning exercise tagged: “Keep Kano Clean Week.”  

He added that the exercise was to prevent flooding across the state.

Katsina

In Katsina, the state government as well as multinational agencies such World Bank have made cogent efforts in proffering a lasting solution to flooding crisis in the state.

Recall that there was a serious flood disaster in Jibia LGA which destroyed many lives and property. It was the crisis  that inspired the  World Bank intervention through its Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).

The intervention which was funded by the International Development Association (IDA) was also implemented in other areas of the state such as Malunfashi, Funtua and Katsina Local Government Areas.

The Katsina State Government said it had received over 3,000 complaints from communities across the state seeking intervention in the area of flood control.  Against this backdrop,  the governor, Aminu Masari, disclosed that the state government had spent over one billion naira in addressing some of the challenges.

The Commissioner for Environment, Hamza Sule Faskari, said following the 2018 floods in Jibia Town, the World Bank, through NEWMAP, tagged the provision of storm water drainages and diversion channels in Jibia as an emergency. Under the NEWMAP project, the state government has paid cash contribution of over N500 million.

“Thus, the state engaged a reputable consultant that produced the designs of the project at over N662 million. The first phase of the project involving the construction of storm water and drainage management has been awarded and work commenced in August 2020,” he said.  

Borno  

Borno State Government has taken some steps in mitigating the impending flood disaster in the state through construction of new roads and drainages, expansion of some major roads alongside bridges as well as culverts within Maiduguri and its environs.  

Government, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered,  has also reintroduced the monthly environmental sanitation exercise across the state. It has deployed trucks for evacuation of huge refuse dump  within cities and towns in the state. Under the initiative, the government instituted a sanitation court to prosecute offenders and restore discipline.  

But despite government’s efforts,  many residents of Maiduguri and its environs have resumed the culture of indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages, wards, streets and roads side.  

The ugly trend is common at the densely populated areas, including mini and major streets as well as markets  where low income earners and the impoverished  reside,  unlike the Government Reserve Areas (GRAs) whose environments remain clean atmosphere.

Checks also indicate that the resumption of the monthly environmental sanitation by the state government to ensure a clean environment has not achieved the desired results because only major roads remain clean, while streets and drainages are laden with wastes and dirt. 

Findings have also revealed that the menace of dumping refuse in drainages returned recently after the suspension of activities of repentant political thugs popularly known as (ECOMOG) and unemployed youths who were recruited by the present administration under the programme of Waste for Cash’ sanitation Youth Scheme.

Residents who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday expressed concern over indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages and road sides which causes flooding.

A resident of Jidari area, Usman Sabo, who attributed the culture of dumping of refuse by some residents to poor hygiene culture and indiscipline said: “They don’t care about the environmental implications of their culture of dumping refuse in drainages. Despite that some of them fall victims of flood disaster,  they still perpetrate the practice.”  

When contacted, the Information Officer of Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA), Audu Kyari, said the agency had taken bold steps against dumping of refuse in drainages and waterways.

 

“Under the new approach, we would send our personnel to fumigate drainages before distilling and evacuation of refuse to avert infection and other health hazards on the communities and our workers. 

“We have already commenced distilling the drainages in different locations within the metropolis. We  have started the exercise from Bulunkutu, Gwange, Bulaburin and Dala areas. The cleaning of the area is aimed at preventing  flood recurrence.

“We have sanitary inspectors in charge of streets and houses who move round Maiduguri and its environs, apart from the street cleaners. The inspectors monitor streets and roads to arrest whoever is caught dumping refuse. We have a Sanitation Court  in Wilari area where defaulters are arraigned and prosecuted.

“The inspectors also arrest landlords and residents whose  soak aways  are damaged or left open and pollute the environment.  However, they are usually given warning notifications of between three to five days to repair them. If they fail to comply, they are charged to sanitation court and prosecuted,” Kyari said.

While commenting on enforcement of  the monthly environmental sanitation, Kyari explained that in the monthly media publications and awareness, the information was made clear to the people about the significance of the exercise.

According to him, institutions, schools, markets and streets had been mandated to strictly observe the cleaning exercise.

“When we go round and find out that your environment is dirty, we hand over the defaulters to their leaders and explain the penalties of  the offence. We give them one week to clear their environment. When we return and find them wanting, we prosecute them,” he added.

Kogi

Kogi State has always had a share of  flooding and accompanying disasters.  Findings by our correspondent have shown that  the two major rivers in the state – the River  Niger and Benue – are the major cause, especially through its tributaries which form streams and  brooks across the state.

Recall that residents in eight local government areas:  Bassa, Lokoja, Kogi, Ajaokuta , IgalaMela/Odolu, Ofu, Ibaji and Idah have suffered untold flood disasters. Many lives and property were lost to flooding in  2012 when the state had the toughest  challenge of the natural disaster.

As the rainy season sets in and  residents are already getting worried,  not only government but also residents have started taking proactive measures to tackle flooding  crisis in the  state.

In Adankolo, Kabawa, Gadumo and Ganaja  settlements along the bank of River Niger  in the capital city, Lokoja, many were seen taking precautionary measures to avoid falling victims of flooding this year.

Determined to  proffer lasting solutions  to flooding in the state, especially in Lokoja , the then government of  Captain Idris Wada had embarked on construction of embankment along River Niger to stem the tide of the menace.  But the project was suspended when his administration expired in 2016. However,  the present administration of Governor Yahaya Bello resumed work on the project last year.

Victor Omofaiye, the Commissioner for Environment disclosed that  work   had been ongoing in some major towns and villages that are prone to flooding

At Nataco-Felele area of Lokoja, a place  prone to flooding during rainy season, the commissioner said government had started  pulling  down illegal structures that block  drainage. He urged residents to steer clear  of the drainage lines.

A growing outcry by residents has trailed the demolition move, following the economic implications  as many businesses have been  shut down after demolition of business outfits such as  kiosks, restaurants and computer centres build on drainages.

However,  government has stood its ground in ensuring discipline and  proffering solution to the menace.

A resident in Adankolo, Mallam Mohammed Kareem, a fisherman, said he had relocated his family and valuable property to the high ground permanently.

“During the 2012 flooding episode, I lost all that I laboured  for after many years which included my house, a child and many valuables to flood. I’ve yet to recover from the trauma.  A year after that sad experience, I rebuilt the house in the same place only to suffer the same fate again.  I ‘m done with  my ancestral place at the bank of River Niger. Since I  moved my family from there  two years ago,  we have been heaving a sigh of relief from the trauma when the yearly flooding  approaches,” he said.

Former  lawmaker and ex- chairman of Ibaji Local Government Area, David Ogwu, said he  saw ‘hell’ during  the 2012 flooding when his council was submerged totally .

“It’s a traumatic experience that is better imagined than experienced,” he said.

Ogwu  said he was lost on the River Niger for three days during the disaster in his attempt to save his people. He stressed that with early warning, concerted efforts and seriousness  on the part of the state government as well as spirited individuals, the impending flooding would be overcome,  with minimal causality.

“The embankment project is a great idea to solve  flooding problem  in Kabawa area in Lokoja. I wish that would be done one day in a critical area in Ibaji,” he said.

“What can we do against nature?  We did not foist this situation on ourselves in Ibaji.  I was lost on River Niger for 72hours with my team on a rescue mission during the 2012 flooding as a council chairman. It was an  ugly episode, traumatic moment and sad situation I have ever witnessed in my life.

“With good advocacy, good planning, early sensitisation, decisiveness on the part of the government at all levels, people will prepare for it on time and more lives would be saved,” he added.

A Federal Government agency, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) has given out 1,487 life jackets to flood-prone  communities in the eight local government areas in the state to prepare them against flooding.

Engineer Joan Ogwuche, the state coordinator of  HYPPADEC said the  Managing Director of the  Agency, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa,  had  embarked on some measures to  assist the communities  that are vulnerable to  flooding in the local government in the  state.

She added that a lot  of sensitisation  programmes had been  organised by the agency to prepare flood-prone communities on the impending.

 It has also been giving free medical treatment to flood victims in the  communities in Ibaji, Ajaokuta and Kontokarfei.

Benue

In Benue, efforts are already being put in place to check incidents of flooding this year.

Our correspondent gathered that the Commissioner for  Water Resources and Environment, Godwin Oyiwona, has sensitised  the Benue populace on the public presentation of the 2022 Annual Flood Qutlook (AFO) made available by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA). 

Oyiwona, while creating the awareness, disclosed that Benue was one of the 32 states of the federation that falls within the Highly Probable Flood Risk Areas; which means that the likelihood of flood occurrence in the state this year is high. 

He also intimated that the prediction indicated that there would  be coastal flooding in some coastal cities while Makurdi is one of the cities expected to experience flash floods. 

He advised residents to embark on clearing of drainages around their premises, desist from dumping refuse in drains to allow for a free flow of storm water to prevent flooding. 

The commissioner also called on the people to avoid building on water ways and flood plains, as doing so would compound the existing problem.

He emphasised the need for people and officials in the littoral local governments areas:  Makurdi, Guma, Gwer West, Agatu, Tarka, Apa, Buruku, Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum to be on the alert for possible overbank flooding. 

Oyiwona further stressed that the ministry would do all it could to de-silt the Idye Basin blocked by silt.

He urged people to heed the early waning to avoid flooding menace.

 

From Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri), Tijani Labaran (Lokoja) &  Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi)