All over Ndokwa East Local Government Area (NELGA) of Delta State, the people are in agony. They are crying out that their buildings, farmlands and other property are on the brink of being completely washed away by flood.
As gathered, the residents have been lamenting over the perennial flood that has sacked many residents, including landlords, from the area. Commuting from point A to B in the affected areas has been a herculean task for the residents and visitors.
The aggrieved residents stated that the situation has reached an unbearable state. Members of the communities said they have done all they could in the past, through self-help, to save the ugly development. But their efforts have failed to yield the desired results.
Economic and social activities are on a steady decline. Some of the areas that have been overwhelmed by flood have become completely detached from the rest of the local government. This has become a lingering nightmare for the indigenes.
Several communities in the area have been submerged, the reporter was told. They include Aballa, Inyi, Onuabor, Utchi, Asaba Ase axis, covering Onyah and Umuolu, Beneku, Okpai, Aboh, Akarai, Azagba, Ibedeni, Iyede Ame, Ibrede, Igbuku, Ashaka, Ushie and a host of others.
People in the community, including government officials, are lamenting.
In finding a lasting solution to their ordeal, the chairman of the local government, past chairmen and other leaders and stakeholders in the area have united to continue to draw the attention of the relevant authorities to the recurring problem. They have vowed to continue the agitation and sensitisation campaign until their roads become passable and their means of livelihood restored.
After another recent tour of the affected areas, the chairman of the council, Juan Amechee Governor, as well as two past chairmen, Sam Chukwuji and Elder Chike Ugwumadu, expressed fears that, if something urgent was not done to correct the situation, the entire local government could go into extinction in no distant time.
The chairman lamented: “In summary, about 90 per cent of our communities has been taken over by the ravaging flood, while almost 100 per cent of our communities’ access roads has been cut off as well. In most communities along the Ase River and the Niger, it is total displacement as all farmlands have been flooded. Even Ashaka is now an island. The flood has cut off all roads leading into the community. The situation is actually relatively close to what happened in 2012.
“The entire council premises at Aboh have also been submerged by the flood and even Ashaka, which we thought will be safe, has lost over 75 per cent of the town to flood. Consequently, our earlier proposal to use the Ashaka Council premises is also no longer feasible because of the challenges of staff coming to work at Ashaka and considering the fact that most of our staff are also affected by the flood.”
He announced that the council’s offices would, therefore, continue to be on lockdown while the officials would be carrying out their duties as need arises from their respective homes.
“We regret any inconvenience this action may cause us as we look forward to normal business as soon as the flood begins to recede and it’s safe to resume normal office business,” the council boss said.
Amechee Governor also complained that schools across the local government were not spared, maintaining that all the schools have been taken over by flood. Students and pupils are said to be under compulsory displacement as a result of the floods.
He pointed out that at a time like this, it was unrealistic to blame the government or other agencies for such a plight. He said he was aware that the state government was putting measures in place to assist the council to manage the flood situation, in the absence of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.
He believed that it was not what the government alone could do, considering the level of impact across the local government. He added that the council was even more handicapped based on the prevailing paucity of funds resulting from the refusal of key oil and gas companies operating from the local government to pay tenement rates, among other financial challenges faced by the council.
Said he: “The truth is that we are in very hard times, considering what our people went through during the COVID-19 lockdown and the situation we find ourselves with the flood now. This is, therefore, not a time to sing about the problems but to proffer what we can individually or collectively do to ameliorate the suffering of our people anÅd reduce the impact of the flood on their persons.
“All community leaders, women, youths and other stakeholders are hereby encouraged to do everything they can to assist our people in our various communities in any measure we can. Nothing is too small or too big at this time. They should help monitor and enforce all possible strategies in the communities across the local government area to ensure that no life is further lost during the flood season, having recorded one death involving a police officer few weeks ago.
“We are to assist our displaced school children in one way or the other including but not limited to organizing free lessons for the kids around us.
“We urge residents of the LGA, especially those in flood-prone areas, to take precautionary measures in respect of the flood alerts and press releases from us. Every necessary step must be taken to avoid any disaster while we do all we can to attract necessary intervention from all walks of life, including from the state and Federal Government.”
The chairman noted that water travel was still on the increase around the communities. On that note, he recommended that all the travellers and transporters must adhere to the water travel safety measures. He warned against overloading; and urged them to ensure they use life jacket during travel period, and avoid low spots like ditches, basements or underpasses.
According to him: “Do not walk through flooded areas; If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Do not drive into flooded areas. Do not touch electrical equipment, if you are wet or standing in water. Know the weather and let your people know about any trip you are embarking on, before your journey, during the trip and post-arrival. Put safety first, after God, in all you do now and going forward.”
He charged members of the community to take the flood advisories to heart and commit wholeheartedly to their messages. He reiterated the need for everyone to be their brother’s keeper, among other requirements.
He advised people still living in houses built along floodplains to relocate to safer places, avoid the use of low bridges and culverts when the rain is persistent. He added that whenever there was rainfall, residents should avoid staying under high tension electricity installations.
He urged everyone to remain calm and not to engage in anything that could compound the situation.
His words: “As a responsible government, this council administration cares about the safety of the lives and property of our people and would not want them to suffer avoidable losses. We are therefore calling on all NELGA media team, which we understand to be critical stakeholders and co-partners for development, to make the dissemination of warning messages on flooding part of their daily routine, to safeguard the council from calamities, because the situation at hand demands our proactive response and collaborative effort on a daily basis.
“This situation, like every other phase, shall pass away before we know it and with God on our side, we will celebrate post flood season with thanksgiving to God Almighty for preserving us.”