Agencies, governors attribute mass flood to refuse dump, blocked drainages
Displaced residents in Abuja, Niger, Benue, Borno and Katsina states continue to count their losses owing to flood that had left in its wake deaths, destruction of homes and properties, the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has accused some Nigerians of making things difficult for the agency in its yearly response to flooding and other natural disasters.
NEMA raised the concern about the level of energy required to convince some communities in areas that are prone to flooding of the need to relocate permanently, if possible, from such locations to high level areas for safety.
The Director-General of NEMA, Muhammadu Muhammed, recently said, while addressing journalists on their preparedness to respond to flood, that: “It is difficult for Nigerians to leave their ancestral land for any reason, even with flood predictions and warnings. They would tell you that such prediction was made a year or two ago, but nothing happened. So, they always prefer to respond when the flood comes and return to same location afterwards.”
But some resident of Baure Local Government Area in Katsina State have said 24 hours after flood caused by a heavy downpour washed away many houses and displaced scores of residents, no help from any government agency had reached the victims.
This came as the Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, yesterday, commiserated with the people of Suleja Local Government Area and Gurumana in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state over the flood disaster and boat mishap that claimed 12 lives.
Six people were killed in the flood which swept parts of Suleja after an early morning downpour on Saturday, while six others, four women and two children, got drowned in River Shiroro last week when their boat capsized while escaping bandits’ attacks.
The governor, in a statement in Minna on Sunday, signed his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel Berje, expressed sadness over the Suleja incident, saying that despite the flood alert based on the NEMA’s, the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency’s and the Nigeria Meteorological Agency’s weather predictions earlier issued by the state government, the ugly incident still happened.
While commiserating with the family of the deceased, the governor urged all residents of the areas to adhere strictly to government advice on temporary relocation or clearing of drainages to avoid a repeat of the ugly incident.
ALSO, the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has called on members of the National Assembly from the state to take the issue of dredging of River Benue seriously to ensure it is captured in the 2021 budget and also implemented.
Ortom said until River Benue is dredged, flood control efforts in Makurdi and its environs would continue to yield little or no results.The governor stated this after inspecting the level of devastation caused by flood in Makurdi metropolis as a result of several hours of downpour. He said though the drainage channel constructed by the Federal Government had mitigated the effect of the flooding to a large extent, more needed to be done in terms of opening more drainage to help salvage the situation.
He also charged people of the state to always get approval from relevant authorities before erecting structures for residential or commercial purposes, stressing that the government would henceforth demolish any building on water channels without compensation.
The Director, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Baba Shehu Lawan, while speaking on the Gwagwalada flood, also urged residents to stop dumping refuse into drainages as it was such practice that blocked the drainages and result in flooding that are rampant in the Federal Capital Territory.
Lawan also warned against indiscriminate felling of trees by residents and developers for development purposes, explaining that the trees served as vegetation cover, protects the soil and controls flooding.
His reaction came following the collapse of a building under construction on Friday, which killed a middle-aged man in Dawaki, Abuja, where the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has vowed to prosecute the developer and revoke title for the property.
Acting Coordinator of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Abdulhamid Sulaiman, described the incident as “very painful and unfortunate,” insisting that “the developer and his co-conspirators will be punished and we will recommend for possible revocation of this plot.”
The coordinator regretted that that even though necessary preventive measures are being taken, including service of stop work notice by the Department of Development Control at commencement of construction, the developer “ignored it and continued to do this type of construction under lawlessness and impunity, and the result is this disaster.”
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