National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has said that with the intensity of rains, more areas are expected to experience heavy flooding in the state.
The agency therefore appealed to the state government to show more commitment in disaster management expecialy in flood control.
Director General of the agency Air Vice Mardhal Mohammed Mohammed (Rtd), who spoke in Owerri during an advocacy visit to Imo to ascertain level of the state’s preparedness in flood control said that Imo is among the state’s in Nigeria likely to witness flood disaster in 2020 as predicted by Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET).
The advocacy visit also took NEMA team to the 242 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, 211 Quick Response squad, Nigerian Air Force as well flood prone areas in Imo and Abia states.
The DG who was represented by the Deputy Director, Finance and Accounts, Abdulaziz Umar Jibrin, said that though Imo has shown capacity in the past in disaster management, there is the need for the Hope Uzodimma-led administration to show more commitment in mitigating disaster in the state.
Umar told Uzodimma, who was represented by the Secretary to the state government, Cosmas Iwu, that part of the mandate of the agency is to embark on periodicare advocacy visit and awareness campaign to sensitise the people on the need to be prepared at all times.
“I am assuring Imo of NEMA’s full commitment in partnering with the state government and dissaster stakeholders in the area of disaster management”, he said.
The NEMA boss mentioned Ohaji-Egbema location government, Ogutt, Oru-East and Owerri North as highly probable flood risk areas, while also informing that other LGA which does not fall under high probability may also be affected.
He expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness in Imo, but however advised the government to ensure that regular sensitisation was carried out.
“We have interacted with all the disaster stakeholders and also with the government and I can assure you that we are satisfied with their level of preparedness but theyb must not relent in showing commitment at all times”, he said.
He said the advocacy visit to Imo would also give the agency opportunity to interact with other disaster stakeholders in the state to know their challenges and way forward.
Uzodimma said one of the ways the government was tackling flood related issues was to ensure that the original master plan of the capital city was restored.
He also said the government would demolish all houses built on the waterways to give the water access to flow into Otamiri river as well as carriying out series of sensitisation programs in the state aimed at preparing the people on emergency.
“We are appealing to NEMA to assist us because the environmental impact of the flood in Imo is bigger than us, we have been doing our best and we will continue to do our best.
“We have received some relief items from NEMA but we are asking for more, we also commend your visit to Imo, it shows serious commitment on the side of NEMA”, he said.
Commander 242 Artillery Brigade Obinze, Lt. Akeem Amol, and the Commander 211 Quick Response Group Nigerian Air Force, Group Capt. Elisha Bindul told the NEMA delegation that their commands are ready and committed to quick response in case of any disaster.
They said their commands had also embarked on series of advocacy visits to various community leaders in their areas of jurisdiction to sensitise them on early warning signal as well as disaster.l management.
Bindul said beside advocacies, the command has also caried out rescue operations in various communities during emergency and also provided security to NEMA officials.
“It is our legal responsibility to carry out rescue operations during emergency and to also collaborate with other stakeholders in mitigating disaster”, he said.
The officers identified some of their challenges to include limited Speed Boats, limited Life Jackets, Ambalance and Matrices among others.
While assuring NEMA of strong partnership, they appealed to the agency to assist in providing needed logistics for a better proactive approach to disaster management.