Riverine communities seek Nigerian Government intervention to mitigate flooding
Some riverine communities in Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States have sought the Federal and state governments intervention to mitigate the menace of flooding and erosion.
Residents in the communities in a survey conducted in the states said that though there hadn’t been any lives lost to flooding in the recent past, many people had been displaced from their homes and lost properties worth several millions of Naira.
The respondents to the survey also said that it was imperative for government at all levels to do more to mitigate the effect of climate change and create awareness in the citizens of the dangers inherent in not protecting the environment.
However, Mr Mayowa Anjorin, the Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation in Osun, said the state government had put in place proactive measures to avert any flood disasters that could endanger the lives of citizens and loss of properties.
Anjorin, who made this known in an interview said that the state government had embarked on broadened channelization and dredging of canals in communities across the state .
He added that the state government had also established taskforce to respond promptly to any environmental challenges for the safety of lives and property in the state.
According to him, the state has dredge canals in communities, which includes Osogbo, Ede , Iwo, Gbongan, Ilesa, and Ile-Ife to prevent flooding .
He appealed to citizens not to panic as government had mobilized all available resources to mitigate any flooding in the state.
The commissioner said that no casualties were recorded in the recent Ikire flood disaster in which many residents lost their properties.
Anjorin, however, said that the state government would not relent in ensuring the safety of lives and properties of citizens within a friendly ecosystem
Also, Mr Bilal Adiat, the General Manager, Osun State Emergency Management Agency (OSEMA), said the government has been sensitizing residents living in flood prone areas to relocate following recent forecasts by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of imminent downpour and flooding in parts of the state in August and September
“NEMA has warned that downpour may lead to possible flooding in 19 states and 56 communities across Nigeria in the month of August. The release that was made by NEMA’ s Lagos Territorial Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, shows that Osun State, particularly Osogbo and Ilesa communities were among those that are susceptible to the imminent flooding.We have been sensitizing Osun State people to desist from dumping refuse in drainages and to avoid blocking water ways in any form, because water will always find its way and this will lead to flooding.” he said
Adiat said that the well being, and safety of lives of the residents of Osun state was of paramount to the government.
He said that the state government and NEMA were not unmindful of the issues of safety and wellbeing of its citizens and always provided relief materials to victims of natural disasters in the state, especially flooding.
In Ilaje Local Government area of Ondo State, residents of the riverine communities have sought government intervention following perennial flooding of their homes and farmlands.
The residents, who made the appeal in separate interviews in Ode-Ugbo, said that the incessant rains have destroyed their houses, farmlands and other means of livelihood.
A community leader in the area, Chief Nathaniel Ebijuwoni told NAN that a recent rainfall, which began at night and led to flooding, destroyed his properties, and made his family members to stay up all night draining water from the house.
Also, Mrs Grace Igbasanmi said that a recent rainstorm accompanied by heavy winds blew off part of her roof.
“We have inundated government with appeals to come to our aid over this matter even before now, but have not received any response.We are appealing again to government to come to our rescue over this matter,” Ebiwonjumi said.
Also, Mr Omoniyi Ebenezer, a farmer, said that flood destroyed his food crops and plantation, the sources of his livelihood.
“The incessant rains, rather than being beneficial to crops and plantation, have been the reverse. What are we going to do?.We see it as an act of God, but government can still do something, to assist us” Ebenezer said.
A youth leader, Mr Olusegun Atijere called on governments to rise up to their responsibilities and salvage the situation for the riverine residents.
“All our effort to get governments’ attention have not been successful. We appeal to them to be responsible to their obligations and fulfil their electioneering promises to the people,” Atijere said.
Meanwhile, Mr Goke Jatuwase, the immediate past Chairman, Ilaje Local Government, told NAN that his administration did its best to tackle the issue of flooding in some communities in the area.
He added that before he left office few weeks ago, the council had embarked on clearing of drains, canals and water ways in order to avert incidents of flooding occasioned by the heavy rains.
“We discovered that most of the drainages, canals and waterways have been blocked. We therefore initiated action to clear all drains of waste for to avert flooding. As a council, we have our limitations but we have performed to the best of our abilities,”Jatuwase said.
Similarly, Mr Segun Obideyi, Secretary, Ondo State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said the state government was working assiduously to prevent flooding in the state.
Obideyi, at an interview in Akure, said that the government had cleared drains and dredged channels and rivers across the state.
The SEMA secretary said that the state government had also embarked on aggressive awareness to curb the habit of indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
Obideyi gave assurance that advocacy on prevention of flood would not stop, adding that government had also provided relief items to residents affected by flooding.
Also speaking, Mr Toyib Musa-Omoloja, a lecturer in the Social Science Department, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, called on government at all levels to lay emphasis more on enlightenment and invest in green energy to reduce depletion of the ozone layer.
Musa-Omoloja, who identified climate change as one of the causes of flooding, explained that the depletion of ozone layer which resulted in high rainfall was the cause of flooding and need to be tackled headlong.
According to him, if the depletion of ozone layer could be minimized, the environment will be healthier and incidents of flooding minimized.
“Our governments needs to invest more in urban renewal and development, channelisation, build culvert and drains that are wide enough to accommodate large volumes of water. If this can be done, we can be sure that we will have a cordial environment and, of course, the people and society also will be safe from hazards of flooding. The negligence on the part of the society, dropping of waste in the drain channels contribute to the loss of properties during the rainy periods
“Moreover, our people need to be mindful of the way they use the environment and do the necessary thing meant to protect the environment so that we will be free from the effects of flooding,” he said.
Similarly, residents in Ekiti have called on governments to redouble current efforts aimed at mitigating incidences of flooding in the state, especially in flood-prone areas, to save lives and properties.
Their calls follow a flood incident that occurred on Tuesday in Ureje Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, in which five persons narrowly escaped death.
The Ureje River in Ado Ekiti overflowed its bank along Federal Polytechnic Road, Ado Ekiti, and wreaked havoc on the surrounding buildings and other property.
The five persons were said to be coming from Ureje area and attempted to navigate the heavily flooded bridge into the town, when they were swept away by the strong current.
Witnesses said the victims, who could have drowned, were rescued by some divers, who were on the bridge to assist the elderly to cross the flooded spot.
Property worth several millions of naira were damaged by the flood in areas like Eminrin Estate, Adebayo, Ita Eku and Ilupeju Avenue.
One of the residents, Mrs Julianah Ajulo, said her family lost property worth over N3 million to the flood and called on government to render help to bail them out of the horrible situation.
“In fact, we were happy when Governor Biodun Oyebanji came to dredge Ureje River here in Eminrin. We never knew we could witness this again. This is the third time in 10 years that this will happen to us. We appeal to the government to do something urgent about our situation. We are seriously pained by this incident”.
Another resident, Mr Bolaji Aina, who resides in Basiri area of Ado-Ekiti, also said his community had witnessed series of torrential downpour this year, leading to flooding, which affected many buildings and loss of valuable properties.
He however appreciated the prompt response of the state government, saying some of the measures it put in place, actually saved the situation.
Also speaking, another resident, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, who resides at Ayemi garage area in Ado-Ekiti, along Iworoko road, said poor waste management by residents contributed to flooding, saying people’s attitude to waste disposal was more than a sabotage.
He also attributed the lack of waste bins in strategic locations in the metropolis for the attitude of residents who dispose their waste on roadsides and drains.
An environmentalist, Mr Wale Ibiwoye, however, said flood mitigation measures could only lessen the impact of flooding, saying “no amount of intervention can stop heavy rain.”
He said it was important to understand the effectiveness of individual measures, in terms of flood mitigation impact, saying some works may reduce flooding, in terms of infrastructural facilities, like dams, bridges and culvert construction.
He said that many cases of flooding occur at night, therefore it was necessary for government, among other things, to put in place early warning system to alert people of danger.
Speaking on the issue, a Geologist, Mr Ayo Omotosho, however, said that flooding could be controlled through proper planning, and provision of necessary infrastructures.
Omotosho said that flooding in Nigeria was mainly human induced, going by residents’ day to day activities, and lack of care and protection for the environment.
He appealed to governments, Non Governmental organisations, (NGOs), stakeholders and individuals to take issues relating to the environment seriously, and avoid erection of structures on waterways or habits that could aid flooding.
Another environmentalist, Mr Gbenga Akinwunmi, said to mitigate flooding, a combination of hard infrastructural solutions and ecosystem based adaptation should be pursued, and include the construction of dams and reservoirs to hold excess water, riverbank protection.
He said there should be appropriate drainage system and storm water management regimes, as well as dredging of some of the rivers in the state.
He said the state government needed to strengthen it’s regulatory governance and institution capacity, in the area of spatial planning, regional cooperation on trans-boundary water resources management and tree planting.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti state government said it would continue to take appropriate measures to further tackle flooding effects in towns and villages across the State.
Mr Kolade Okeya, the Director, State Environmental Protection Agency, SEPA, who made this known, said as part of the measures, government had done appreciable drainage work, as well as cleared most water channels, to mitigate flooding and other environmental hazards in the state.
He said that SEMA had carried out an assessment of the three LGAs that had been predicted by NIMET to be likely affected by the imminent flooding, namely: Ado-Ekiti, Ikere-Ekiti and Irepodun-Ifelodun, and urged residents in flood prone areas listed to relocate without delay.
He said the warning had become necessary because of the possibility of flooding in the identified councils, and urged residents to desist from dumping refuse on water ways and drainages, to prevent the occurrences.
Also, the State Commissioner for Information, Chief Taiwo Olatunbosun said the
government was mindful of the various predictions by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) of heavy rainfall and flooding in many parts of the country, including Ekiti State, this year, and had put in place, mechanism to check erosion and flooding.
” As a responsible government, we do not take all the warnings for granted. While we continue to invest in safety and security of the environment, we urge citizens of the state to cooperate with government in making the environment safe for all. Residents are urged to avoid indiscriminate dumping of refuse and erecting structures on waterways as this contribute significantly to flooding. They are also advised to avoid flooded areas particularly during heavy rainfall,” he said
NAN / Foluke Ibitomi