Imagine a visitor that comes regularly every year. At each visit, the visitors left his host in agony ranging from destruction of his household property to disease, sickness and an ugly environment that reaks of death resulting from an epidemic.
This is a yearly ritual that confronts the resident of Yenagoa, one of the growing coastal cities in South South region of Nigeria and by the special grace of God, the state capital of Bayelsa . Yenagoa said be situated below the sea level is prone to yearly flooding, But the actual time and day of the flood is what the meterologist is yet to determine, it seemsno matter how prepared you were, you will always be caught unawares.
That was the experience of a Yenagoa based journalist, Jack Morrison (not his real name) attached to a national tabloid. Morrison lived in Amarata axis of the city. On the fateful day he had left with a colleague for an assignment in Sagbama, while there, there was a heavy downpour in Yenagoa, being unaware , of what fate had in stock for him, Morrison came home in the evening with “with a catch he made” only to for him to discover that first, the path leading to his one-bed room apartment had been flooded.
The most disappointing aspect of the whole issue is that his pot of soup, some rubbers of garri and foodstuffs he bought earlier in the day, his 24 inch foam, his beddings and other household property have been submerged in water.
“I was really ashamed before my ‘catch’ as I bailed out water inside my room as if we were in the fishing pond’, Morrison narrated to colleagues.
Morrison’s experience is not different from that of a trader at Swali Market, Mr. Anthony Okpara, who told this reporter that having cleaned his room before he travelled to his home town in Ahoada for weekend, only to return on Monday to discovered that his room was smelling like refuse dump because all his food stuffs were soaked with water and cloths he left on the bed were all heavy.
As earlier indicated, Yenagoa is situated below sea level, that makes it vulnerable to flooding. The flooding is usually in two ways, the yearly over flowing of nearby rivers and its numerous tributaries and the heavy downpour. However because of climate change, the Yenagoa river and the Epie Creek have hardly over flown their banks for the past few years.
But downpour had been a nightmare for the residents almost on monthly basis. The reasons for this may not be far fetch. First most of the natural water channels have been closed as a result of numerous buildings springing up, secondly the town lacks central drainage system that could direct water to its normal course, thirdly the manner people dispose refuse lives much to be desired.
It is interesting to note that the problem of flooding is not only peculiar to Amarata, but also other sub verbs like Biogbolo, Ekeki, Opolo, Ovom, Swali, Yenuzuegeni. And even the town of Agudama-Epie which pride itself as an upland community is not left out.
One major problem, the authority of the Capital City Development Authority is yet to comprehend is the official lawlessness in terms of erecting building, in natural water ways.
A closer examination of all the internally constructed roads by the present administration will reveal that most of them though have culverts but the culverts led to nowhere, thereby leaving the surrounding buildings vulnerable to flooding.
Again, even though some buildings had been demolished, most residents believed that this was selective as some houses were left out because its owners are either top politicians or senior civil servants.
A look at the Epie Creek would convince you of unseriousness the government in addressing the issue of flooding of the city. The creek is fast becoming another ‘Nta Wogba’ creek in Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital, where all sort of refuse are thrown into if thereby effectively prevent flow of water, the result usually is the flooding of environment.
Agreed that, there is a comprehensive development policy in place, what remains now is the will to do what the laws say, and the political will to tackle this menace now that the city is yet to fully develop.
If the appropriate thing is done now, only few people would be neigbouringinjured, but if left for future administration millions are going to suffer, by that time it would not be an easy thing to continue destruction so that resident could have comfort.
All that Yenagoa and its environs need now are proper planning, and implementation of the master plan even if it is phase by phase. That is the only way Morrison, Okpara and their likes will not in future suffer menace of flooding.