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Perennial flooding: Bayelsa residents seek dredging of creeks, canals

Residents along Epie Creek in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, have cried out to the state government to take appropriate steps in dredging the surrounding creeks…

Residents along Epie Creek in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, have cried out to the state government to take appropriate steps in dredging the surrounding creeks and canals to avert imminent flooding as rain sets in.

The residents said the state government’s neglect of the settlements around the creek is responsible for the yearly flooding challenges in the state.

According to the worried residents, ‘until government takes proactive steps to dredge the creek, they will continue to live by smiling and suffering.

They stated this recently when members of the Federated Correspondents Chapel (FCC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) visited the communities around Epie Creek to ascertain the measures taken to address flooding in the state as the rainy season is approaching.

A resident, Pastor Tariebi Blessed Kalakai, said most of the creeks are blocked, while the gutters are not only filled with plastic wastes but also serve as refuse dumps, a situation that makes it difficult for water to run during rain, thereby resulting in flooding.

He urged the government to dig up the creeks, clear the canals and gutter to make rain water run to the river to save the residents of yearly losses caused by flooding.

He said: “Most times, the government goes on crash programmes when floods come. The real solution to this creek is to pile it from Igbogene Community to Government House, that is all the government should do. They can partner with NDDC and do it in phases, and people will be happy.

“The major problem of flooding in Bayelsa State is the Epie Creek, which is connecting all the  communities. If the government can dredge it above flood level, it will help a great deal. Netherlands has the same terrain with Bayelsa State, but with good plans, they don’t experience flooding.

He said: “Posterity will continue to remember late Chief Melford Okilo, a one-time governor of Old Rivers State, who made some inroads in the area of flood control during his tenure as governor, by ensuring there were plans in place to tackle any flood threat.”

Another resident, Mrs Kate Wilson, appealed to the state government to dredge the creek and construct a standard bridge in the area to link other communities.

David Patrick Igidi who resides in the community said: “The neglect of the Epie Creek is caused by the government. No official bridge connecting communities by the canal; the government should open up this creek.

“During flooding period, we pay lots of money to get to our houses on a daily basis; snakes are all around our houses, armed robbers also have fields’ day here, corpses flow from a nearby mortuary to our houses.

“The whole creek is made up of plywood bridges constructed by community efforts as most of them are prone to accidents.

“Currently there are two major   bridges under construction but abandoned for years; if completed, it was supposed to have crossed the hitherto sprawling communities along the flood infested creek, though the creek is currently dried and farming activities are going on, but with this rain that is starting, it means that flood is at the corner.

Director General of Bayelsa State Flood and Erosion Control Agency, Surveyor Omuso Wilson, said the inability to clear drainage and gutters in the state capital was due to lack of funds, which is also a major factor militating against  the agency’s activities .

He said the agency is waiting for the second-tenure administration of Governor Douye Diri to swing into action for it to also commence work on the blocked drainage.

He said: “Funds haven’t been released; once funds are released, we will go into action. At the moment, there is no even Secretary to State Government to apply for funds, but once the government is in place, funds will be made available for us to work.”

 

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