Osun revs up channelisation efforts to curb flood menace
For years, Osogbo, the Osun State capital has been experiencing severe flooding that wrecked havoc, destroyed homes and claimed many lives. Expectedly, the fatality rate was high due to the nature and situation of things. Inadequate river channels, lack of drainages, ineffective waste dump mechanisms, and indiscriminate dumping of refuse by residents, all contributed their quota to the ugly scenario.
A peep into history shows different episodes of flood-induced loss of lives as far back as 2010. One of those that still wreck hearts up till today, is the one involving two primary school pupils, who got drowned at Okoko stream after a heavy downpour on July 7, 2010. Equally heart-rending was the reported sweeping away of an infant on the day he was to be christened.
Another incident that equally drew tears was that of a nursing mother, who apparently fed up with life struggles and vicissitudes, threw her baby into the river upon emerging from a church, before taking a plunge at the Coca Cola area of Osun River. She was alleged to have lost two of her children to an earlier flood mishap.
The foregoing scenario captures just a little of the pains that 2010 flash floods visited on Osogbo residents.Apart from Osogbo, other parts of the state also required government’s intervention in alleviating the effects of the perennial flooding, which previous administrations at both local and state levels failed to successfully curb.
Interestingly, all these happened at a time that huge amounts of money from the Federation Account were released to governments, at the state and local levels in the form of Ecological Funds, to combat the flood menace. However, since coming on board, the Rauf Aregbesola led-administration stepped up efforts aimed at putting an end to flood menace in the state, and ridding the environment and waterways of dirt.
For instance, in the first six months, the administration declared an emergency on environmental sanitation; a development that saw two Saturdays in a month dedicated for environmental sanitation exercises, and the cleaning of all nooks and crannies of the state.Aside this, the administration’s O’CLEAN programme, also began cleaning and ridding waterways that were hitherto not taken care of of dirt, by ensuring that they were all cleaned and dredged. Expectedly, the dredging exercise made many to heave a sigh of relief.
From 2011 to 2015, the state government, through timely, professional and proactive efforts ensured that the state did not witness a single case of flood. Aside the major waterways that were dredged, new water canals, drainages and flood preventive mechanisms were put in place.
As a result of recurring flash floods in the last quarter of 2015, the state government swung into river channelisation and the upgrade of drainages across the state. So far, in the last seven years, about 861 kilometres of waterways, canals and streams have been desilted.
On river channelisation, the government has intervened in critical areas, where water canals are now adequately constructed, with one of the critical ones being the one from Rasco to Alekunwodo area in Osogbo. Since the bridge was constructed to link the Old Garage area to the Oke-Fia end about 30 years ago, it has become a flood plain with many clamoring for its upgrade.
Presently, the bridge has been reconstructed, upgraded and has by its sides, a river channelisation mechanism that is about 900 metres long. The new drainage, a state-of-the-art design, is expected to last for the next 35 years.
Another major channelisation effort completed by the administration is that of the Gbonmi-Obaate-Okooko River channelisation. Gbonmi, a major part of Osogbo, which flooded frequently, has been flood-free in the last seven years. The area not only bade erosion and flood bye, the entire environment is now clean, as illegal structures, which surrounded the river bank are being removed by government to pave way for the ongoing channelisation efforts.
The third channelisation exercise is the one at the Old Nitel-Alekunwodo end of Osogbo, which covers about one kilometre. These channelisation efforts are also a strategic part of the new road infrastructure put in place by the state government. Many believe that the initiative has created a model for other states to follow.