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Residents count losses as flood devastates Rivers communities

This is not the best of time for residents of Rivers State, especially those who live in flood-prone areas, as hundreds of homes, churches and…

This is not the best of time for residents of Rivers State, especially those who live in flood-prone areas, as hundreds of homes, churches and business areas were submerged. Hundreds of residents were also displaced and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.

Residents of Rumuolumeni in Obio Akpor, Trans Amadi, Rukpokwu, Eneka, Choba, Oyigbo, Eleme and the Orashi part of the state are still counting their losses. Several other parts of the state were also badly affected by the rampaging flood. 

Recently, the state office of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) was taken over by flood and some vehicles parked in the premises were submerged. The whole of the DLine area of Port Harcourt was flooded after a heavy rain, following which the FRSC office and a mechanic workshop close to the office were submerged.  Our correspondent gathered that the drainage behind the FRSC office is too narrow for water to flow through and empty into the Ntanwogba canal, which is close to the popular CFC flyover. The flood overflowed the drainage, thereby affecting residents and offices.

In Oyigbo, the entire community has been cut off from the rest of the state. Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, a resident of Oyigbo, Peter Okeke, blamed political leaders of the affected areas for the disaster. He explained that several road contracts awarded to the indigenes of the area were poorly executed, a situation that created avenue for flooding. 

“The administration of Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi awarded contracts for road construction in the communities to indigenes of the area, but the jobs were poorly executed. The former governor awarded contracts for the construction of six internal roads to the indigenes of the area, but they collapsed in less than six months after completion, thereby causing perennial flooding. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which has the responsibility to execute sustainable road projects, is not also helping matters. 

“The recent road contract awarded by the NDDC on Isaiah Eleto Street collapsed three months after it was delivered. There is no proper water channel, and that is why everywhere has been flooded after a little rain,’’ he said.

In Eleme, the story is the same as major streets in the community, such as Aleto, Alesa and Akpajo were submerged and residents displaced.

A major bridge linking the community to the East-West Road collapsed recently. The bridge, located close to Akpajo, collapsed and caused a terrible traffic gridlock along the road. Companies located on the stretch of the road find it difficult to access their offices; hence they go through neighbouring communities.

Recently, youths of the community issued an ultimatum to both the state and federal governments to take measures to control perennial flooding and reconstruct broken down roads or they would shut down all the Federal Government-owned parastatals located on the East-West Road axis of Eleme. Some of the federal parastatals located on the stretch of Eleme are the Port Harcourt refinery, Indorama, NPA, Federal Ocean Terminal and Notore chemical company.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike recently awarded contracts for the reconstruction of two roads in Oyigbo. One of the roads at the popular Mbano camp part of the area has attained 90per cent completion, while the second one, which is supposed to start from the Oyigbo express junction to Afam road, is yet to commence. Residents are of the opinion that on completion of the two road projects, temporary relief would come their way.

The community, which is rich in oil and gas, has more than 68 flow stations. The gigantic Adam power station is located in the area.

Last weekend, residents of Rumukwurushi part of Port Harcourt woke up to a devastating torrential rain that pulled down the only bridge linking the community to other places. The incident occurred when a canal that channels water out of the area overflowed, submerging the bridge; hence its collapse. The residents are trapped in the community as they find it very difficult to access the popular Port Harcourt/Aba expressway.

Telecommunication dealers at the popular Computer Village, along Port Harcourt/Aba road, are also counting their losses as the Rumukwurushi canal pulled down all the structures housing their stores. Goods worth millions of naira were said to have been lost to the incident.

A mobile phone dealer in the village, Tochi Nmadu, told our correspondent that he lost all his goods to the flood.

“I was in my house on Saturday night when somebody informed me that flood had submerged the Computer Village. By the time I got there I could not salvage a single item from my store. I just came back from Lagos with my consignment and all the goods I bought have been lost to the flood,’’ he lamented.

He said all the phone dealers in the area lost all their goods, which he estimated at N30million. 

Aggah community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area was also affected. Residents have raised the alarm that, as a result of flooding, diseases are ravaging the community.

A resident of the community, Mrs. Victoria Elechi, said they had suffered from flooding for more than 36 years, and expressed worries that no step had been taken to resolve it. Elechi pointed out that as a result of the flooding, several people were already down with pneumonia and other diseases.

 “Flood has taken over the whole community and we are suffering. Buildings and other properties have been damaged and people displaced. We are also afraid that pregnant women may have contracted diseases that may cause miscarriage. Mosquitoes are everywhere causing malaria. We really need help,’’ she said.

Also, Mr. Everistus Nicholas, the leader of Egbema Voice of Freedom, called on the NEMA to come to the aid of the people of the area. Nicholas noted that the flood was caused by an elevated platform belonging to Agip, which was built on waterway. 

After inspecting some of the affected areas recently, Governor Wike assured residents of Port Harcourt and other communities that his administration would tackle the menace. He empathised with victims and promised to work with relevant agencies to resolve the issues thrown up by the incident.

The governor directed relevant agencies to take immediate action to tackle perennial flooding in parts of the state.

Wike had inspected the flooded areas in Port Harcourt with Julius Berger engineers and officials of the Ministry of Works. He also directed the continuous de-silting of all major canals in the town, and advised residents to stop dumping refuse in water channels, which led to blockage and eventual flooding of the affected areas.

He said he would take some tough measures to ensure that the state does not experience such devastating flooding again. 

Over 500 homes, business areas and churches were submerged across the state. When our correspondent visited the affected areas, residents of Rumuokalagbo were still battling with the flood as properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Similarly, the deputy governor of the state, Dr Ipalibo Harry, assured the people of Eneka that government would proffer a permanent solution to flooding in the community and its environs. Dr Harry made this promise when she undertook an on-the-spot assessment to ascertain the effect of the flood in the community. 

She said her visit was necessitated by the fact that the present administration cared for the people. 

“We are pained by what is happening here; hence we have come to see how the flood affected the roads and houses. People have been displaced, and they are staying in churches, and the hall of His Royal Majesty,” she said. 

The deputy governor, who promised an immediate support for all the displaced persons, said that government was committed to providing a permanent solution to the problem. She called on the people to keep the peace and continue to support the present administration in its quest to give Rivers people a new lease of life.

In his remarks, the paramount ruler of Eneka, Eze Roland Woko, said the visit of the deputy governor had wiped out the tears of his people. He said some youths wanted to go on rampage because of the flood situation, but they were assured that the state government was on top of the situation. He thanked the deputy governor for her prompt response to their distress call.   

Eneka residents had called on both the Rivers State Government and NDDC to come to their aid by constructing a drainage that would channel water out of residential areas.

A resident of the community, John Amadi said, “We are in a very serious problem. The major cause of the flooding is that the NDDC constructed the road without proper drainage system; hence, any time it rains, the entire place is flooded. We want the government to come to our aid.’’

Early this year, the South-South zonal office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had warned residents of flood-prone areas to vacate before the commencement of the rains. The agency also warned residents not to build houses on waterways or block drainages with refuse.

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