The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, has placed States on red alert asking them to expect more flooding during the rainy season.
The warning was directed to 15 States namely Niger, Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Jigawa, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory.
Speaking during a Press briefing yesterday in Abuja, Director- General of the agency, Engr. Clement Nze, said there is high probability that the 36 states of the federation including the FCT would witness different levels of flooding this year.
“River flooding as well as coastal flooding is expected to come into place as the nation approaches the peak of raining season,” he warned, adding that the agency had sustained the Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) to avoid the catastrophe experienced in 2012.
He said this is because flood from the upper reaches of the Niger Basin comprising Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivorie, Benin, Chad and Cameroon would be arriving Nigeria in about a month’s time.
Nze noted that the agency has been closely monitoring the many flooding incidents taking place across the country as it has led to the the loss of lives and properties.
He said it was unfortunate that the flooding incidents were manifesting just as predicted by NIHSA, lamenting that the relevant stakeholders, individuals and state governments have failed to heed the warnings issued before the of flooding in the country.
He said this has resulted “in avoidable flooding incidents leading to loss of lives and property, disruption of economic activities and loss of several hectares of agricultural lands.”
“Therefore, states and local governments should endeavour to remove structures built within the floodplains, clear blocked drainage, culverts and other waterways,” he said.
Nze called for the need to put more drainage systems, avoid building houses in areas that will block the flow of water and provision of dams to control flood to come into the country when other neighbouring country release water their dams.
He said the flood might translate to disaster if there are no facilities on ground to manage it.
Only recently, houses in four estates in Lokogoma District of the FCT were submerged after several hours of downpour. The flood led to the death of a director at the FCT High Court, Mr Tony Okecheme, around Galadimawa roundabout when his vehicle was trapped.
Many residents spoken to yesterday said flooding in the district has become perennial, even as authorities have identified poor drainage system as the cause.
Some of the affected residents said houses in EFAB, Bethel Jubilation, Ipent and PENGASSAN estates were affected by the flood and that property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
A resident of EFAB, Habeeb Abdulkadir, said 38 houses were affected by the flood in June, “and this one has gone further down the estate, it has affected more than 38 houses. It is really devastating. It is worse than the last one; the damage is increasing. This time it fell fences, removed windows, cracked walls, removed electricity poles. So much devastation for one day, but no life was lost.”
Our correspondent in Bauchi State reports that an expert on water hygiene and environmental sanitation Hajiya Addaji Mohammed has identified lack of intensive campaign as the major problem that puts the state among those prone to flood.
Addaji said that putting Bauchi State on flood red alert by NIHSA is a welcome development even as she expressed concern that the people may not change their attitude.
“People still build houses on flood-prone areas, they don’t want to leave the place and they also don’t want to give water its way. If you didn’t give water its way, it will continue to wreak havoc to the people residing on water ways and valley areas,” she said.
She advised the Bauchi State government to evacuate residents whose houses are situated on waterways and valley areas, and partner with reliable non-governmental organizations to sensitize the people in all the nooks and crannies of the state for maximum impact.
Recall many residents of Gwallaga, Dindima and Liman Katagum live in perpetual fear as the rainy season remains. “Any time we see sign of rainfall, we become scared because we don’t know what will happen. Our houses may end up being submerged or our roads would be blocked,” one of the residents said.
Mallam Altine Mohammed of Sabon Kaura Village also said “We are living in constant fear. You can see even in Bauchi metropolis flood used to submerge cars and properties. The authorities need to construct more drainage and culverts and create ways for the water so as to ease people’s sufferings.”
Effort to speak to the state chairman of State Emergency Management Agency SEMA failed, but the Bauchi State Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed had during a visit to sympathize with the victims of flood disaster caused by heavy downpour in Dindima village of Alkaleri and Liman Katagum of Bauchi Local Government Area, promised to assist the people.
Represented by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abubakar Y. Suleman, the governor directed the State Emergency Management Agency to take immediate action.
While at Dindima the village head, Malam Sale Ubandoma, told the Governor that over 100 houses and farmlands were affected, while one person died as a result of the flooding.
Last year, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said a national disaster was declared over the flooding, with no fewer than 100 people killed in 10 states.
Last year, in Niger State, for instance, over 10,000 were displaced by flood across 23 of 25 LGs of the state, with officials putting the number of death at 55.