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Editorial: Bracing Up For The Impending Flood In Rivers State

By this time last year, communities and indeed Rivers people were grappling with the problem of flooding which was hinged on the overflow, of Cameroon Dam into the River Niger. The incident like wild fire spread to the River Benue and into the creeks of the Niger Delta. Communities in Ahoada West, Abua/Odual, Ahoada East and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas of Rivers State were worst affected. Responding to the unfortunate incident, the state government through its Committee on Flood Control, headed by the Deputy Governor of the state, Engr. Tele Ikuru set up emergency camps strategically to cater for the internally displaced persons, or better still, flood victims.

This would have been history, but for the latest alarm or prediction raised by NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency), occasioned by NIMET (Nigerian Meteorological Agency) forecast that the 2013 rainfall and its attendant flooding will be worse than 2012 case.

This announcement no doubt has upsetted the psychology of the communities living in flood prone areas and of course the Rivers State Government. In a quick reaction to that forecast, the Deputy Governor and the chairman flood control committee, Engr. Ikuru announced the readiness of his committee to set up permanent camps in the state. He was not explicit whether the location of the last camps will be retained or not.

While we await such clarification, and prepare for another nightmare, the question is what efforts are we making to avert the impending flood.

We are aware that even before last year’s flood, a committee, headed by Prof. Winston Bellgam, an Environmental Expert has been set up in the state by the Governor Chibuike Amaechi led government to disilt drains and widen water channels or creeks that criss-cross the state. Notable amongst them is the Ntawogba creek.

We are not aware that the Prof. Bellgam led flood committee has started work this year or made any appreciable impact.

Since we cannot stop nature or alter natural forces, the only remedy is to take precaution, prepare and pray for the rainy day.

It is unwise to wish that the evil day does not come, for it is often said that it is better to witness the evil day, than keep on postponing it.

NEMA has also expressed the same fear that this year’s flood will wreak more havoc than last year.

We suggest therefore that the local councils that suffered the effect of last flooding should advise communities in their domain close to the rivers or creeks to relocate to safer areas pending when the rainy season is over.

NEMA and other agencies responsible for emergencies should equip themselves effectively, as nothing can be more embarrassing than when a troop is attacked by enemies when they are not prepared. The casualty rate in such case is usually very great. We also suggest that the corporate bodies operating in Rivers State should be alerted of the NIMET forecast and of the need for them to prepare to assist the communities that may be possibly affected by the flood.

All in all, we opine that the Rivers State Government networks with other states, in collaboration with the federal government to find a lasting solution to the menace of flooding, even if it demands dredging the River Niger, River Benue, Orashi River and other major rivers in the country to solve the flood problem.

Time for action is now. ###

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