It is no longer news that flooding and its attendant consequences are injurious to man while the spatial dimensions are often not mapped. CHRISTIANA NWAOGUwrites on the urgent need for government to find lasting solutions to the issue of flooding as the rains intensify
Floods are among the most devastating natural disasters in the world, claiming more lives and causing more property damages than any other natural phenomena. In recent times, flooding across Nigeria has left both the government and the governed devastated.
While the state is just in the middle of the rainy season with heavier downpours still expected, victims, particularly those residing in Abuja and its environs are already expressing fear of what to expect, flashing back their minds on the negative impact it has always had on them.
These victims who expressed worry about the devastating effects of flooding and the memories of sorrow it leaves in its wake, may be forced to pray to God to withhold the rains which are supposed to be showers of blessings.
Early this year, heavy rains and thunderstorms caused major havoc in Nigeria, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and in Lagos, the business nerve center of the country. Residents woke up in many parts of these cities to find their streets and homes flooded and their property, including cars and other valuables, submerged.
Pictures and videos, posted online, showed dramatic and even bizarre scenes of flooding in the affected cities.
LEADERSHIP Sunday discovered that up until now, images of flooded apartments, submerged vehicles, stranded commuters at heavily flooded bus stops, entire neighbourhoods being taken over by flood water, and even residents swimming across streets, still haunt some of the victims.
The FCT and Lagos were not alone in this trauma as neighboring towns to Abuja, like Suleja in Niger State and Mararaba in Nasarawa State were also affected. In the southern part of the country, states like Cross River, Bayelsa and Delta also suffered the same ordeal early in April.
Some of the worst floodings in recent memory happened five years ago, precisely in March 2012 when 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected, 24 severely. The havoc it caused then was so devastating such that more than 300 persons were killed while over two million others were displaced.
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the seriousness of that flooding, was attributed to a combination of two events; very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in nearby Cameroon.
Although the degree and seriousness of flooding in Nigeria fluctuates, flooding has remained a recurring phenomenon in most parts of the country.
Investigations revealed that the first factor aggravating flooding is climate change, shown to contribute to more extreme storms and rainfall.
Experts have however blamed 80 percent of flooding in cities is Nigeria to rapid urban growth and poor planning, which has resulted in inadequate and poor housing, rapid emergence of slum areas and inadequate water supply and waste disposal, among other challenges.
Residents of Trademore Estate, Lugbe, a suburb of the FCT are still counting their losses after they were held hostage for hours by a rampaging flood that over ran the estate recently.
The flood, occasioned by a heavy downpour in Abuja, reportedly covered over 60 houses. Even a Catholic Church still under construction, was not spared as it succumbed to the heavy flood.
Report has it that the flood, which started at about 4am kept all the residents indoors till around 8:30 am before they could move out of the estate.
A resident of the estate, who begged not to be named, told LEADERSHIP Sunday hinted that the impact of the flood was more devastating because of the uncleared dump site within the vicinity.
The resident said, “Our properties have been messed up, others have been lost. Surprisingly, we have environmental workers who burn the dumping sites every two weeks, which is too long because the dustbns would have become too full.’’
But a waste disposal official who simply gave his name as Danladi, confided in our correspondent that, “some residents who do not want to pay the waste disposal agency usually dump their waste in the drainage.
“Some people still throw their waste anywhere they feel like and that is the reason we have so much waste on the road after the rains.”
Recently, the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FCT FEMA) rescued some residents of Emerald Flower estate, Lokogoma district and Maitama extension after a flood ravaged and submerged the communities.
Deputy director, Forecasting, Response and Mitigation of the FCT FEMA, Florence Wenegieme said the downpour which started around 5.00pm and lasted for more than an hour saw residents trapped in buildings and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.
According to her, the flood that occurred around Emerald Flower estate was due to the obstruction caused by buildings erected on the waterways thereby hindering the free flow of water. She said the problem of flooding around the area started three years ago due to bad construction of bridges and roads by estate developers.
According to her, similar experience was recorded at Maitama extension area of the FCT on same day, where residents were trapped in building due to a splash flood but got rescued by FEMA.
She advised developers to ensure that roads and bridges are well constructed, adding that residents should stop dumping refuse in flowing water so as to avert similar occurrence.
Mr Agwolor Ekpe who resides at Alphonsus Ogbe street, Area “A” Extension, Nyanya , behind NNPC filling station, expressed fear that if nothing is done to mitigate flooding, many houses and schools situated in the area may collapse.
He lamented that despite the vigorous campaign by the government on the dangers of indiscriminate dumping of refuse, some residents were still engaging in such deplorable act.
Ekpe said, “Beyond the lamentation, the state government should build a retention pond to assist in containing flooding in the Nyanya, especially the part housing, the General Hospital, all the government Secondary schools Nyanya to serve as a reservoir for storm water at the peak of the rainy season.
He called for the consideration of emergency control centre, automated weather stations, removal of solid waste from stormwater drains and the development of emergency response mechanisms. He said Nigeria must invest in these measures and sustain them.
Ekpe suggested that those who also dispose of waste indiscriminately should be fined or punished to act as a deterrence to others who want to do the same.
His words: “government has to resolved to be more stringent in the campaign against dumping of refuse in canals and drains and also be ready to scale up the application of physical planning laws against the erection of building on canals, drainage channels and water courses.”
Meanwhile, residents of Kubwa, Lugbe, Bwari and Kuje Area Councils have called for collaboration between the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Urban Planning and Physical Development, in order to reduce the havoc caused by flooding.
Architect Maxwell Achakpa who resides in Kubwa, explained that if the two government agencies embraced their suggestion of partnership, they can immediately remove structures that block drainages and consequently impede free flow of rainwater.
On his part, Mr Aloysius Abang, a civil servant who resides in Kuje, advised that monitoring and compliance with extant building laws was important just as information dissemination should prioritised.
He tasked government at all levels to intensify efforts aimed at mitigating the damage done by flood across the nation.