JOE EFFIONG, UYO
Akwa Ibom state government has called on corporate organizations, particularly the oil and gas companies operating in the state, to partner the government to enhance disaster management and emergency services in the state.
Mr Moses Ekpo, the Deputy Governor, who made the call while declaring open a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on flood sensitization, emergency preparedness, mitigation and response organised by the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA in collaboration with the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA in Uyo, reasoned that such measures would aid in tackling natural and man-made disasters.
The Deputy Governor who was represented by his permanent secretary, Mr Nkopuruk Ekaiko, maintained that the meeting was a wake-up call for people to be alive to their responsibilities by making conscious efforts to desist from building on water channels, dumping refuse in the drains as well as deliberate efforts in de-silting blocked drainages in their environment.
Ekpo said that Akwa Ibom is a riverine state which is prone to flooding, and that the 2022 NIMET’s seasonal climate prediction and NIHSA annual flood outlook had already listed the state amongst areas in the country with a high flood risk, which prompted the state government to embark on disaster management through sensitization and other precautionary initiatives.
He said the meeting was very critical for stakeholders to further brainstorm on the way forward on how to prevent and prepare for eventualities, given that the state is faced with threats and prospects of flooding, thunder storm, heat waves, landslides, communal crises, fire outbreaks, building collapses, chemical and environmental pollution.
The deputy governor noted that in line with the policy thrust of Udom Emmanuel’s administration, the government is passionate and always ready to identity and help people, communities whenever they are faced with disasters.
According to him, since the beginning of his administration, the State Emergency Management unit of the Deputy Governor’s office has successfully collaborated with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other agencies to carry out disaster management which has assisted victims of disaster while creating awareness and sensitization on flooding and other disasters.
“The Etim Umana street, Anua Erosion, Ikpa road, calabar- Itu road and Eket erosion control projects amongst others are significant components in the state government’s record of disaster prevention efforts implemented in conjunction with the World Bank, the multi billion 8.7 kilometer IBB flood control project spanning through 18 communities across the three local government areas of Uyo, Ibesikpo Asutan and Nsit Ibom is a major commitment of the present administration in the state on flood control”.
Earlier, the Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Habib Ahmed represented by the South South zonal Coordinator, Mr Godwin Tepikor said with the advent of climate change, the magnitude and intensity of disaster had been on the rise across the globe, particularly in the south south region of the country.
He said the need to lessen the vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of communities has prompted NEMA to coordinate the programmes of stakeholders, re-evaluate and monitor their state of preparedness for effective and efficient disaster management at all levels.
He said the meeting will afford the opportunity for stakeholders to put in place proactive measures to prepare for, and respond to the risk that are expected to come with the prediction, for the effective and efficient management of disaster in the state for 2022 with the objective of reducing the vulnerability of communities while helping to build their coping capacities for resilience.
The permanent secretary in the deputy Governor’s office, Mr Nkopuruk Ekaiko also presented a paper on Flood disaster management strategies in Akwa Ibom state, noting that roads should be constructed with provision of adequate drainage facilities, adding that certain types of buildings or activities in a flood high risk zone should be prohibited.
He noted that drainage systems should be regularly inspected and monitored by government establishments and enforcement of building code, establishment and de-silting of drainages amongst others.