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Residents panic over cholera outbreak as floods ravage Lafia suburbs

Residents of Angwan Nungu, Shinge Road junction, a suburb of Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, have been having sleepless nights over the perennial flooding that…

Residents of Angwan Nungu, Shinge Road junction, a suburb of Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, have been having sleepless nights over the perennial flooding that has been ravaging the area.

The disaster has been estimated to have destroyed about 6,000 houses in the state capital in the last couple of years. And residents express concern that they are also at risk of cholera outbreak.

It would be recalled that the Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, an engineer, had early in 2022, flagged off the Lafia Storm Water and Gully Erosion Control, undertaken by the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), at the cost of about N1.5 billion.

The World Bank assisted project was aimed at addressing the persistent flooding exacerbated by the challenge of gully erosion and land degradation, particularly in Angwan Nungu.

Some residents of the area, who spoke through their village head, Muhammed Aliyu-Wambai, expressed concern that Shinge road construction years back had paved way for water to flood the area again, thereby threatening their lives and property.

He said before Shinge road construction, there was no erosion menace in the area but when the water channel was blocked, water forced its way through the community.

“Whenever clouds gather, signaling that it’s about to rain, we won’t be able to sleep anymore. There is a widow close to my house who has abandoned her house because of the perennial flooding problem. She has no one and has nothing for herself.

Also, the house next to hers, the owner has abandoned it because whenever it rains the houses get flooded,” he said.

He said their wells and pit toilets always overflowed, predisposing the residents to diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

He said the state government, in conjunction with the federal government, pledged to do something about the problem, but expressed worry that up till now, nothing has been done to that effect.

“No fewer than 7,000 residents are suffering from this flood problem. The flood has also killed more than 10 people, including children in this area.

“Another woman came to visit her parents, little did she know that flood will sweep her and her baby away. She was extremely lucky to have survived, but her baby was swept away by the flood. Many children have been swept by the flood while playing,” he said tears flowing down his cheeks.

Other residents, Muhammed Buhari-Muhammed, Danlami Umaru and Fatima Ibrahim, all expressed bitterness that since they built their houses some years back, flooding had been their major problem.

They added that flood had been claiming lives in the community since 2014.

The Director, Flood, Erosion and Land Reclamation in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kwa’kaha Jonathan, said the Angwan Nungu gully erosion already has been captured in the ministry’s budget.

He added that already, measurements had been taken and that they have also carry out bill of engineering measurements and evaluation which will cost the state government over N1.69 billion to construct from Jos road to the community.

“When I was the project coordinator of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Project in Nasarawa State, I constructed a channel at the lower side of the Angwa Nungu area.

“If you go there you will see good channels with gully fingers. The problem the residents are facing is from Jos Road where there are interceptions. Water is coming from Bukan Sidi area down to the Millionaires’ quarters and passing through B Division in the Millionaires’ quarters down to Kaigama area of Kilema, which has another inter-joint. It then slows down with other intercepted channels, which come in very high volumes and flow along that area.”

The former state NEWMAP coordinator had expressed worry that for years, gully erosion had gobbled up properties, emphasising that to address the hazard, the state government had thrown its weight behind the implementation of the 2020 NEWMAP, World Bank-approved Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP).

He, however, hinted that, as part of the implementation of the 2020 plan, NEWMAP had awarded contract for the control of stormwater and gully erosion in Lafia town.

Similarly, the residents of Angwan Shai’u beside Masallachin Gabas area of Lafia local government have expressed worry over the failure of the state government to construct their road after demolishing about 65 houses five years after.

Our correspondent who visited the area learnt that the houses were demolished in 2017 because they were built on waterways, yet flooding has continued to ravage the community.

The ward head of the area, Alhaji Shuaibu, said they faced perennial flooding, adding that the disaster has killed six children and polluted the area, thereby putting the residents at risk of contracting cholera and typhoid among other diseases.

He said many residents are forced to abandon their homes in the rainy season to squat with neighbours and watch helplessly as flood destroyed their properties.

Efforts to get the Managing Director, Nasarawa Urban Development Board, Engr. Wada Yahaya-Muhammed, to speak on the plight of Angwan Shai’u residents were unsuccessful.

He did not respond to numerous calls made to his mobile phone and did not reply to a text message sent to him.

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