RSG’s Positive Step On Flood Disaster

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Last Friday, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo commended the Rivers State Government for measures taken to mitigate the impact of the flood disaster on the people of Ahoada West Local Government Area.
While on an assessment visit to Mbiama and Akinima towns in Ahoada West Local Government Area, Osinbajo remarked that the Rivers State Government had done well to contain the flood disaster.
Said he: “I want to thank the State government for what they have done so far. They have tried to contain the problem.”
The Tide joins the Federal government to commend Governor Nyesom Wike-led government for taking such a pragmatic step in mitigating the effect of the ravaging flood in the State.
While we welcome the visit by the Vice President and the promises made to extend assistance to the Rivers State government in tackling the menacing flood, we condemn the initial exclusion of Rivers State from the declaration of the ongoing flood in some states as national disaster and subsequent allocation of N3 billion to provide relief support for victims.
We believe that handing of life threatening incidents such as flooding should not be politicized particularly when considered against the back drop that the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) earlier this month listed Rivers State and 11 others across the country as prone to severe flooding resulting from torrential rain falls.
The agency had in an emergency meeting with stakeholders in disaster management in Abuja, listed Rivers, Bayelsa, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Edo, Benue, Anambra, Delta, Taraba and Adamawa as States that would be worst hit by the impending flood.
NIHSA revealed then that all the indicators that played out before the 2012 flood disaster had already manifested in its latest survey, warning that these indicators point to the fact that the height of River Niger has risen to 10.11 meters as at penultimate Friday as against 9.74 meters of the same period in 2012.
Water levels, the agency stated, had been on the increase virtually every day due to the opening of the Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba Dams. It said the warning demands urgent proactive and preventive measures to avoid a repeat of the 2012 disaster. NIHSA particularly advised residents of flood-prone communities in the aforementioned states to be on red alert and possibly relocate to higher grounds.
It is against this backdrop we expected that Rivers State which has persistently been listed as one of the states to be flooded, should have been declared a national disaster. Apart from Ahoada West, Port Harcourt, Obio/ Akpor, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Abual Odual, Ikwerre, Emohua, ONELGA, Oyigbo and Etche Local Government Areas are always worst hit by floods. We, therefore, call on the federal government and non-governmental agencies to collaborate to ensure that the state does not suffer further devastating flood disaster.
While we welcome the assurance by theVice President to involve the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to efficiently tackle threat posed by the high tide in the state, we expect to see the speedy implementation of strategies to check the trend.
Equally noteworthy is the fulfilment of the assurance by the Special Adviser on Emergency and Relief to the Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chris Berewari, that the government is prepared to handle the predicted flood in parts of the state and had already commenced sensitisation of residents in flood-prone communities.
We are aware that the state government, through its relevant organs, is also cleaning up the drains and water channels to allow for easy evacuation of storm water. It is, therefore, expected that residents should also help themselves by not dumping refuse into the drains. They should strive to use designated dumps and receptacles for waste disposal while structures erected on waterways should be relocated.
Also, there should be adequate deployment of men and materials, including helicopters, to help guide response teams to areas of most need urgent steps should be taken to establish emergency centres in major towns in the state ahead of the impending floods. Also, arrangement should be made to stock warehouse with foodstuffs and other relief items in readiness for any cases of internally Displaced Persons (lDPs). We think this is the path to follow.