• Flood alert in Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Abaji, others
By FRED ITUA
The rains are here again. Already, the rainy season is leaving anguish and disaster in its trail. From the the remotest village in the Niger Delta creeks to the anthills of the savanna in Gombe, the horrendous rains are leaving watery footnotes behind.
A fortnight ago, Lekki, Ikoyi, Ajah and Victoria Island, Lagos, were submerged after a heavy downpour. Visitors to the highbrow area of Lagos were trapped, while residents who were out could not return while the floodwaters persisted.
Similarly, about 13 were feared to have died in Tafa and Suleja local government areas of Niger State, after a torrential rains caused severe flooding that ravaged several homes and farmlands.
The heavy rains in Lagos and the aftermath became an eye-opener for residents of other major cities. To this end, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) immediately held a press briefing to tell Abuja residents to heed the warning on prevention of flood, to ensure that impending disasters are averted.
In particular, some residents, especially those on the lowland and other places prone to flooding like Kubwa, Gwagwalada, Abaji, and Kuje, were advised to begin moving to higher ground to escape disaster.
FEMA director, Mr. Abbas Idriss, said that the agency was worried because, besides residents ignoring the warning, human activities that encourage flooding were on the increase within the FCT. He stated that the agency has consistently carried out campaigns in all flood-prone areas to ensure that disasters are averted.
Idriss said, “It is imperative for all the residents to adhere to all the early warning. I am not happy that people are not responding well to the early warning we issued to them.
“At the moment, we are prepared for any eventuality. We are concentrating much effort on the area councils, because the places are far from the city centre, where we have response teams.
“We have also embarked on recruitment of volunteers for emergency prevention and management. The agency has provided a 112 toll-free emergency line for every FCT resident to take advantage of.”
However, the Senate wants the various agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of disaster management to go beyond issuance of warning and enlightment. It has called on the Federal Government to embark on emergency intervention measures, through the release of money from the ecological fund for construction of drainage systems in affected states, including the FCT.
The Senate observed that, despite early weather forecasts, flood disaster continues to wreak havoc in many parts of the country.
It called on the Federal Government to immediately send relief materials through NEMA to affected areas, and grant support to ensure repair of damaged infrastructure.
In the resolution, the Senate also called on the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to intensify its weather forecasts and ensure that such forecasts are translated into local languages.
To press home the urgency of the matter, last week, in Dei Dei area of Abuja, heavy rains ravaged the area, houses were destroyed and goods worth millions of naira were also ruined.
Mararaba, a suburb in neighbouring Nasarawa State, also witnessed heavy rains last week. Houses and residents were adversely affected.
Despite the glaring signs and promouncements from officials, the FCT Administration seems to be unprepared for the looming anarchy. Apart from its warning, which has become a yearly ritual, the administration has not put any measures on ground to relocate residents in the identified flashpoints.
In Kubwa, for instance, the level of awareness is very low. Many residents in the area are unaware of the warning and have no plans to relocate before tsunami happens.
Gwagwalada, Abaji and Kuje, the other identified flashpoints, are not exempted from the lack of preparedness.
When Daily Sun spoke with a resident of Kubwa about the warning, she said she was unaware of the impending flood. The respondent, Agnes Njoku, said her neighbours were also unaware.
She said: “Until you told me, I had no idea that some of us have been told to relocate. Kubwa is the biggest suburb in Abuja. Are they saying that everyone here should relocate? They need to be plain. Everywhere in Kubwa cannot be at risk. How can they just say that Kubwa residents should relocate? To where, please?
“They also need to tell us where to go before the disaster they are talking about happens. They cannot speak in general terms. I hope they will do that soon.”
Other respondents who spoke with Daily Sun feigned the same ignorance. For them, it is business as usual. But for the FCT Administration, the message has been passed.