Tackling the incessant flood happening across the country seems to be a herculean task for the government and agencies managing such disasters. What strategies are the states going to employ to tackle this menace? Ejekwu Joy writes
Some states like Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara respectively had put several measures in place to address and prevent the perennial flooding from wreaking havoc in 2015 as earlier warned by Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet.
To this effect, some state governments had embarked on construction of drains, culverts, dredging of rivers and canals and sensitisation programmes to warn the people against flooding.
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, in Oyo State, warned farmers in flood-prone areas to be cautious in the face of the predictions of heavy rains.
The association’s chairman of the state, Olumide Ayinla, said the warning followed the prediction of NiMet and Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency, NIHSA, that there would be heavy rainfall in some parts of the country that may result in flood.
He said the prediction of NiMet had, so far, not affected the southwest zone, adding that “we don’t have enough rains to grow our crops, so we don’t have any weather problems.’’
“The weather from April to August, as predicted by NiMet, has not affected us; instead it has not been enough for farmers in the zone,” he said.
Ayinla however, said the body advised farmers whose farm were on river banks to stop people from dumping refuse in the river and ensure free flow of water.
Similarly, the Director of Flood Control and Engineering Services, Osogbo, Osun, Mr Dipo Alani, said proactive measures put in place by the state government had prevented flooding.
He explained that in Osogbo, the state government had spent over N2 billion in tackling the menace between 2010 and 2015.
Alani said the state was fairly water-logged, with the presence of Osun River and Owalla Dam.
“The state started experiencing flood in 1960, while it got to the peak in July, 2010 as a result of over-flow of Alekuwodo and Ogbagba dams.
“No serious action was taken to address the menace by the government of that time until the present administration in the state came on board in November 2014,” he said.
He attributed the floods to human factors such as indiscriminate dumping of refuse in waterways.
Alani added that the administration of Gov. Rauf Aregbesola had since 2010 embarked on aggressive dredging of rivers and major water channels.
Alani said the state benefited little from the 2012 federal government flood intervention fund, saying that the fund was not enough to keep the exercise going.
“I make bold to tell you that the state is not threatened in any way by flooding; the quality and sophistication of infrastructure put in place by the government has kept us safe from flooding.
“We are not relocating any of our citizens from their present abode irrespective of their closeness to the rivers or dams, they are not vulnerable in any way,” he said.
Also, the Chairman of AFAN, Alhaji Raheem Adeniji, said rains recorded in the state this year had been moderate and there have been no flood recorded because the government had done enough to prevent flooding in all parts of the state.
Furthermore, the permanent secretary, Ondo State Ministry of Environment in Akure, Mr Alaba Adeyemi, noted that the state had suffered losses from flooding, adding that the menace had caused untold hardship on the people.
He described the situation of the sea incursion at the riverside community at Ayetoro in Ilaje Local Government Area of the state as pathetic, “properties worth millions of naira that were lost to the surge.”
According to him, the state government rose up to the occasion and ensured that a quick response was made by the state’s emergency relief agencies and other sister agencies.
Adeyemi, who said the surge was brought under control in record time, added that the state government distributed relief materials to victims of the surge.
He however, recalled that the victims had been relocated to give way for rehabilitation of their damaged homes.
“Some rehabilitation work is even ongoing there now because the flood destroyed some buildings including the only public primary and secondary schools in the area.
“However, government has sourced for alternative accommodation for the victims until the rehabilitation is completed,” Adeyemi said.
He noted that the state government had started carrying out massive channelisation of the drains across the state to pave way for free movement of water.
“It is known that flooding is usually caused when water passages are overflowing with water or when water ways are blocked.
In this year alone, N2.5 billion naira has been released by the government for channelisation of drains and erosion control across the three senatorial districts.
“Channelisation work is currently going on in some major towns such as Akure,Ondo, Ile Oluji, Ore and Okitipupa and it is a continuous programme to combating the impending flood.
“I want to say that the state government is in control and the governor has been responding well to erosion control and channelisation every year,” Adeyemi emphased.
Buttressing more on the issue, the Ekiti government, on its part, confirmed receiving N2 billion as ecological found from the federal government this year to tackle ecological challenges.
The Commissioner for Environment, Chief Bisi Kolawole, disclosed that the fund, which was received by the state some months, ago was being judiciously expended.
He said this was contrary to reports being circulated by some oppositions that money received by the state was N22 billion and part of the fund was being spent on 32,350 metres of waterways as well as 22 dredging spots in Ado-Ekiti.
Kolawole stated that the projects were awarded to Mega Aggregate and Samchase Construction Companies respectively.
He listed some of the waterways affected in the state capital to include Adere, Ureje, Esinla, Elemi and Omi Olori among others. Clarifing that the government was not limiting its coverage to Ado-Ekiti alone, he added that other affected communities such as Efon-Alaaye, Otun-Ekiti, Ikere-Ekiti as well as Ilawe-Ekiti were benefiting from the initiative.
According to him, the projects were targeted at permanently combating flood and avert other ecological disasters in the current rainy season.
He said government was deeply worried at the incessant flooding in the state and was therefore, determined to tackle all environmental challenges confronting affected towns headlong.
Kolawole, however, warned residents to stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse, saying that no fewer than 300 persons had so far been arrested and convicted for various environment offences by a mobile court recently constituted by government.
He said convicted persons were either jailed for minimum of six months or made to pay fines which ranged between N5,000 and N20,000.
“The efforts to curb flooding in Ekiti is a two-way thing, the government will have to discharge its responsibility by ensuring that the projects are completed, while their sustainability is that of the public.
“But when citizens are throwing wastes into the canals and get them blocked, they will also be the ultimate victims of such act of wickedness when flooding occurs,’’ he said.
Reports reveal that two heavy flooding incidences had occurred in different parts of the state this year. While the one that occurred at Otun-Ekiti, in Moba Local Government Area, a couple of months ago, claimed one life and destroyed multi-million naira property; the one at Ikere-Ekiti only swept shops and schools away.
The Deputy Governor, Dr Kolapo Olusola, whose office supervises emergencies, expressed worry at the way residents handle environmental matters.
Olusola said government recently acquired over 22,000 waste disposal bins, among other measures, but expressed regrets that people still shun them and instead, dump refuse on the roads and canals. Residents of some of the areas where ecological projects are currently ongoing in the state called for sanitary inspectors to enforce environmental laws and regulations.
Also commenting, Prof. Sunday Dairo and Dr Ayodeji Salami called on both federal and state governments to commercialise water generated from flood.
Dairo urged government to convert flood water into small dams, while Salami said they could be used to generate electricity.
In Abeokuta, an environmentalist, Alhaji Kamal’ddin Akintunde, identified improper disposal of waste and refuse management as major causes of flooding.
He said people often use rain as a cover up to dump refuse in drains and waterways, causing blockage.
Akintunde also attributed massive rainfall and lack of good drainage as factors responsible for flooding, urging government to provide good drainage system while constructing roads to enable free flow of water.
He noted that the state had not experienced any flood disaster this year, saying the state government had taken certain precautionary measures to curb the menace.
“In Ogun, so far, there has been improvement. The massive road construction has enhanced the drainage system because the construction went hand in hand with the provision of drains.
“Also, refuse management and waste channelisation of some of the drains and rivers in the locality has improved, and has to some extent addressed the flood problem that we may likely experience in the state,” he said.
Akintunde, a public health expert, urged people living in flood prone areas to relocate and find a better accommodation, saying that it is not the duty of the government to provide alternative accommodation for people affected by flood.
He suggested that government should put in place monitoring agencies and legislation to control indiscriminate construction in flood prone areas.
“The fact still remains that the volume of water in Ogun river has increased beyond expectation, but there may not be any negative effect due to the initiative of government to create awareness on the dangers of flooding.”