Charity Nwakaudu Abuja and Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) has warned communities along waterways and flood plains to relocate over looming flooding, warning that Nigeria cannot face another pandemic within pandemic (COVID-19).
The Director General, Clement Onyeaso, who gave the warning at a press conference in Abuja, explained that there was a need for follow-up to the presentation of the 2020 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) presented earlier in the year.
He recalled that 2020 Annual Flood Outlook earlier presented by Minister of Water Resources, Suleman Adamu, in May predicted that at least, 102 local government areas in 28 states fall within the flood risk areas while some parts of 275 LGAs in 36 states and the FCT fall within moderately probable flood risk areas. The remaining 397 LGAs fall within the low probable flood risk areas.
He said as early as June when the country had not gone into the main rainy season, severe flooding incidents with attendant destructions and loss of lives had been recorded in some parts of the country.
“We advised state and local governments, stakeholders, multinational companies and philanthropic individuals to join effort and save Nigeria from the devastating consequences of flood.
“The country still have many more days of rainfall in the cause of the year. More floods are still expected in August, September and October. In the event there is release of excess water from the dams in other countries, then upstream Rivers Niger and Benue would have more negative impacts on Nigeria.
“Therefore, blocked drainages and gutters should be cleared, river channels dredged and structures within the waterways, flood plains and flood paths pulled down immediately.”
NIHSA boss, however, disclosed that no country have released water from their dams.
“What we are experiencing now in Nigeria is as the results of the heavy downpour.”
Last weekend, communities in Abuja, Niger, Ojgun and other parts were submerged leading to loss of lives and property worth millions of Naira.
Following forecast by NIMET that downpours would be experienced in many states including Akwa Ibom, Akwa Ibom government has advised citizens, especially those residing in low coastal areas to relocate upland.
Deputy Governor, Moses Ekpo, whose office oversees disaster and emergency management said the call became imperative in view of the current frequency of rainfall in parts of the state and the need to avert another disaster even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ekpo charged residents to be proactive in protecting their environment through regular de-silting of gutters and safe waste disposal methods at appropriate designated waste dump sites.
In a statement by Ekikere Umoh, his press secretary, the deputy governor directed the Disaster and Emergency Management Unit of his office to immediately commence assessment of flood disaster prone areas as well as the documentation of victims of recent flooding in the state.
On containment efforts, Ekpo said the state government had commenced a holistic approach, which takes into consideration massive construction of road networks and erosion control works such as the ongoing ones at Anua, IBB Avenue and other projects collaborated by NEWMAP and the World Bank as a means of providing permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the state.