Tuesday , July 23 2024

10 states battling flooding, 21 others at risk, FG warns

The Federal Government, on Thursday, said no fewer than 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had either experienced various degrees of flooding or recorded casualties as rains intensified.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof Joseph Utsev, who dropped the red alert during a press briefing in Abuja, warned that 21 more states might suffer flooding.

He stated this against the background of the Wednesday downpour which grounded business and commercial activities in Lagos and Ogun states.

The resulting flooding brought down a two-storey building in the Mushin area of Lagos and overwhelmed residents while pupils could not attend schools in parts of the state.

Also, a pupil was swept away by the flooding in the Ketu area of Lagos.

Utsev explained that the Annual Flood Outlook by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency released in April had predicted that 148 local government areas in 31 states fell within the high flood risk areas.

The affected states include Adamawa, Akwa  Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi.

Others are Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe.

The minister warned that cholera might spread further in Nigeria due to the flooding.

He further stated that river flooding would begin this month, and would hit Ondo, Kaduna, Anambra, Benue, Adamawa and 12 other states.

According to him, out of the 31 states where the Annual Flood Outlook predicted would experience flooding, the incident had occurred in 10.

Providing a national update on flooding, Utsev said, “It should be noted that some states have started experiencing varying levels of flooding and its associated disasters as early as April this year.

“So far, more than 10 states of the federation and the FCT have experienced one degree of flooding or the other with several casualties recorded including displacement of people and loss of property.

“For example, the torrential downpour in the early hours of June 24, 2024, in the FCT resulted in flooding of Trade More Estate in Lugbe where two deaths were reported and several houses submerged.’’

He stated, “AMAC (Abuja Municipal Council), Kuje, Gwagwalada, Bwari, and Kwali LGAs (local government areas) have also been flooded. Other affected states and LGAs are Anambra (Onitsha North); Edo (Benin); Benue (Makurdi); Kwara (Oke-Ero, Moro); Lagos (Agege, Alimosho, Ikorodu, Lagos Island, Ikeja, Eti-Osa); Ogun (Ijebu-Ode); Osun (Oriade); Nasarawa (Doma); Taraba (Takum, Sarduna); and Yobe.

“It is important to note that as rainfall increases both in frequency and intensity, particularly in the southern part of the country, this will increase the level of flooding and may worsen the ravaging cholera outbreak.”

According to the National Centre for Disease Control, the cholera outbreak has resulted in 63 deaths and 2,102 suspected cases as of June 30, 2024.

The water resources minister stated that most of the flood incidents recorded so far were flash/urban floods resulting from high rainfall intensities of long duration and poor and blocked drainage systems in the urban areas and their metropolises.

Kainji  dam

“As of today, both Kainji and Jebba Dams on River Niger are still impounding water into their reservoirs. Shiroro Dam on the River Kaduna is equally impounding water. There is no release of water yet from any of the dams within and outside Nigeria.

“At this point, it is important to state that river flooding is expected, beginning this month (July 2024). The states that are likely to be impacted by this as predicted are Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Adamawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Jigawa, Kogi, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Nasarawa, Ondo, Ogun, Rivers, Taraba and the FCT,” Utsev stated.

The minister recalled that in April 2024, he presented to the general public the 2024 Annual Flood Outlook by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, an agency under his supervision.

The agency has the responsibility for the provision of information on flood forecasts and alerts and monitoring of all the major rivers in Nigeria, including the trans-boundary Rivers Niger and Benue.

“The AFO shows that 148 LGA in 31 states fall within the High Flood Risk areas, while 249 LGA fall within the Moderate Flood Risk areas with the remaining 377 LGA falling within the Low Flood Risk areas.

“The high flood risk states as predicted are Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and the FCT,” Utsev stated.

The minister pointed out that Nigeria is located within the River Niger Basin which is occupied by eight other countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Cote D’ Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Niger.

“The country is at the lowest portion of the basin. This means that once the upper catchment of the basin gets flooded, Nigeria should be prepared to experience flooding incidents. It is important to note that the month of June 2024 signifies the beginning of hydrological year 2024/2025 in the Niger Basin.

“The flow situation within the catchment is currently within normal as the rising water levels at our various monitoring stations in Niamey are still within acceptable levels.

“The flow situation at Jiderebode in Kebbi State upstream of Kainji and Jebba reservoirs which is the first monitoring station on the River Niger in Nigeria is still at the normal situation.  The same applies to the flow at Lokoja, Kogi State (the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue).

“We are also monitoring the development on the River Benue Sub-Basin. Here, Wuroboki in Adamawa State is our first monitoring station where the flow from the upstream Cameroun is received. The flow situation at Wuroboki is relatively normal at this time, so there is no cause for alarm in terms of water releases in the Benue River basin.

“The Lagdo Dam operators have informed us that they are currently filling the dam for hydropower generation. However, we will keep monitoring the development on this flank and put close tabs on other monitoring stations as we are approaching the critical months,” he stated.

The Director-General of NIHSA, Clement Nze, underscored the Federal Government’s advisory role, noting that enforcement and local action fell under the states’ jurisdiction.

He said the central government would continue its efforts to construct buffer dams alongside the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, to mitigate flood risks.

Meanwhile, residents of Lagos and Ogun communities are still counting their losses from the Wednesday flooding triggered by the 12-hour rainfall.

A pupil, identified simply as Joshua, reportedly drowned in the Ketu area of Lagos following the flooding that ravaged the area and other parts of Lagos.

In multiple interviews with victims of the flood incident on Thursday, The PUNCH learnt that the pupil was swept away by the flood while some individuals lost properties after their homes were ravaged by the flood.

A source, who pleaded anonymity,  told our correspondent that Joshua was washed away while returning from school on Wednesday in the Ikosi area of Ketu in Lagos.

The source told our correspondent that the incident occurred when the boy was returning from school alongside his colleagues after the rain.

He added that Joshua was unaware that the flood had washed away a plank used as a bridge over the drainage.

He said, “The plank that was used to bridge the canal was completely covered by water, and they fell into the drainage.

“Residents made efforts to rescue the pupil but Joshua did not survive the tide. His mother has been devastated till this moment.”

A senior police officer at the Ketu Division, who was not authorised to speak to the media, confirmed the tragedy.

The officer said, “It is a sad occurrence. Though the matter was not officially reported, we got wind of the incident and sympathised with the family.”

In another development, a resident in the Aguda area of Lagos identified only as Aluta Mama, told our correspondent that some of her home appliances were submerged.

She added that she and her family members had to leave their home pending the time the flood would abate.

“The impact is heavy. We had to leave home for the flood to subdue. Some of my properties and appliances were submerged in the flood,” Aluta Mama said.

Another resident in the Pen Cinema area of Agege, Lagos State, Anuoluwapo Atanda, disclosed that though she was not affected by the flooding because she lived in a storey building, it affected those living on the ground floor of her house.

“My house is a storey building so the occupants upstairs were not affected but those downstairs woke up to the flooding in their room so they were unable to protect their valuables.

“It was a co-tenant that raised the alarm that everywhere was flooded because it was a bit dark. Their appliances, chairs, and sofas have been outside and the rain has refused to stop.  Someone dumped his bed and got a new one because it was drenched,” Atanda said.

At Whitesand, Isheri Osun in the Ikotun area, residents were still scooping water from their houses on Thursday.

In Ogun, no fewer than 10 communities in the Ifo area were affected by the flooding.

Confirming the numbers of affected communities, the National Emergency Management Agency, in a statement on X.com obtained on Thursday, blamed the downpour on the overflow of a riverbank in the area.

The statement read, “NEMA South West Zonal Office received a distress alert from Ogun State Emergency Management Agency in respect of flood disaster that wreaked havoc in ten communities in Ifo LGA of Ogun State.

“It was observed that the flood incident was as a result of heavy downpour which led to the overflow of river bank leading to the flood.”

Similarly, a resident of Oregun in the Ijebu-Ode area of Ogun State, Victoria Ojelana, said the flood submerged houses in her area, damaging household properties.

She said, “As I speak, we are still cleaning everywhere with rags because the flood is still flowing. The flood dug a passage in my toilet and started flowing in, so we repaired the spot this morning to curb that.

“Most residents are indoors because the flood has overtaken the road. My family cannot step out of the house and a lot of electronic appliances are now bad.

“There is a woman beside our house whose fence collapsed under the intensity of the flooding. Whenever there is a downpour, we are always in a panic mode but this time, the flood was worse because it affected everyone. We have been finding it hard to cope with the messy situation,” Ojelana said.

On Thursday, the Special Adviser on Environment to the Lagos State Government, Olakunle Rotimi-Akodu, urged residents in low-land areas and other parts of the state to register with the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency.

Akodu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, maintained that such data would be useful in emergencies.

He said although the government had not set up a temporary shelter or camp for the flood victims, it was still important for them to immediately relocate to upland areas.

He said, “We have not set up that kind of camp, but usually, they understand the cycle, just that sometimes they stay back for too long. The kind of flood that may be coming this time is not the type that we should be daring; that is why we are quickly advising them. This time around, the flood could come all of a sudden and we don’t want them to be surprised by it.

“There is so much in the hands of the government at this time. The idea of creating a camp for them – we will get there – but before we get there, our LASRA data (must be updated).

“Despite all the campaigns for people to get themselves registered so that the government can adequately plan for them, they are still not yielding’; they think such advisories are meant to track them for tax payment.

“This is where such data could have been useful. We have not planned for that but we are advising them as usual to move as they usually do, that they should move early because of the volume (of water) that may be coming this time around.”

Akodu blamed the flooding incident on climate change.





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