Fred Itua, Abuja
Last weekend, many residents in Abuja Municipal, Bwari and Gwagwada area councils, battled without success, to curtail the invasion of their residential areas by flood, occasioned by Saturday’s downpour.
From Dawaki and Dei Dei in Bwari Area Council, to Zuba and communities in Gwagwalada Area Council, it was a turbulent Saturday. Lives were lost, property, houses and farmlands destroyed. Bodies of those who were swept off by the turbulent flood were yet to be recovered as at the time of filing this report.
The heavy rain, which started around 2am, killed at least three children, whose houses were submerged and their parents tried to save them to no avail. The rain washed away cars and pulled down buildings. It also destroyed the bridge leading to Ikwa, Yimi and other villages inside Zuba.
The flood compelled motorists to take alternative roads that were not in good shape. The major bridge linking the South to the Northern part of the country was submerged in Gwagwalada.
Over a hundred houses along the waterways were affected in various degrees. All the houses, about 10 to 20 metres from the riverbank were completely submerged.
A man whose house was submerged made frantic efforts to save his children with the help of sympathetic neighbours. He lifted up one of the children to his neighbours who helped him to carry the child to safety. But attempt to ferry the second child to safety turned tragic, as the child fell into the water and was washed away.
As at Sunday morning, three children were declared dead and properties worth millions of naira destroyed. When our correspondent visited the scene, several residents were seen counting their losses. The incident is yet to get the needed attention of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
Life-threatening downpours and heavy floods are not new in Abuja. Since 2015, at least, 20 persons have so far died. Sadly, various departments of the FCTA seldom carry out sensitisation exercise or clear up waterways before the wet season commences. In many parts of Abuja, drainage system is perpetually blocked, while flood-prone areas are left unattended to.
Director-General, FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Idriss Abbas, said there was a building collapse in Dawaki as a result of the flood. Gwagwalada was flooded from Giri:
“Five members of a family were watched away at Giri. We got one body and still searching for four. We rescued six people and are in the hospital. The flood has damaged a lot of houses and property especially at Gwagwalada. The residents are still saying some are missing but they cannot give us the identities of such persons who they claimed to be missing.”
He advised that people should be careful when it is raining: “They should not drive on water. They should not build on flood plain. They must respect the master plan of FCT and ensure that all drainages are clean. What happened in Giri-Gota was because people built on flood plain. Most people underestimate the strength of water and the danger it poses.”
Residents, however, blamed those who flouted government directives and held the FCTA responsible for the loss of lives and property. Thomson Njoku, who resides in Lokogoma said since 2015, the administration has repeatedly made promises to fix the perennial problem of flooding, but fails to do that until the rains start. He said bridges and good drainages that will solve the problem were yet to be constructed by the FCTA.
He lamented that governments were complicit in the yearly problem, insisting that building approvals are given to some residents by dubious staff of FCTAd to construct houses on waterways. He said the administration only sympathises when lives are lost and move on thereafter.
A resident of Dawaki, Lucky, said despite the lack of infrastructure in the area, some residents, with the connivance of FCTA officials, are abusing the master plan of the area. He said waterways are being approved by officials despite strong opposition from residents in the area.