With Joke Adeniyi
The heavy downpour and the accompanying windstorm yesterday, caused havoc in parts of Ilorin metropolis, Kwara State. Trees were fell by the strong wind and roofs of some houses were blown off. The rain left in its trail pain, tears and sorrow for victims. The ugly scenario plays itself out year in year out; it has become a recurring decimal.
I had in a previous write up in this column addressed the issue of the natural disaster occasioned by rainstorm, which is still apt and instructive as the rainy season sets in.
Below is the excerpt:
Sometime in the 80s my maternal uncle and his family members became Internally Displaced Persons taking refuge in our home. I, like his children were too young to fathom reason for their displacement. We (kids) were happy to be together: playing, having fun oblivious of the pain my uncle and his wife were going through occasioned by a natural cum man-made disaster-flood, which sacked residents of Stadium Road in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital that year. He like other victims suffered loss of property. But as we grew older I had better understanding of my uncle’s predicament and why he was cautious choosing site for his personal building years after. Similarly, a colleague of mine had a taste of the devastating effect of the hydrological problem few years ago. His valuables were destroyed during flooding that ravaged some parts of Offa Garage area of Ilorin, at that time. I recall how he cringed whenever the thunder rumbled to herald torrential rain, fearing for the worst. Like the saying, once bitten twice shy, he relocated to a better ecologically fortified place uptown and so, now heaves sigh of relief. Still fresh in our memories is the flood that occurred around Omosebi and Adisco area of Ilorin, few years ago, which led to death of no fewer than three persons; two of whom were young siblings. In addition, about 20 vehicles were washed away in the flood events in the state capital at that period.
Given the recent gloomy prediction by the Nigerian Hydrological Service Agency (NHSA) that some states are on red alert for flooding, the issue should not be treated with kid gloves. It is instructive to note that incidents of flood which are mainly caused by changes on land use is fast becoming a recurring decimal in Ilorin, thus causing untold hardship to residents; sometimes loss of lives and property. Though, this extreme hydro-meteorological event is exacerbated by climatic change.
Flooding usually occur after heavy rainfall especially when it is in quick succession when the water table is high in the month of September. With the astronomical population growth as a result of rapid urbanisation, high population density, waste generation and disposal has become serious issue in places like the state capital where people dump refuse indiscriminately. What is disheartening is that despite the early warning of this imminent disaster, the state government is yet to be seen taking proactive steps towards mitigating effect of flooding on the people and environment, if it occurs. According to United Nations (2001), flood has the greatest damage potentials of all natural disasters worldwide and affects the greatest number of people. For this reason, government must step up action to curb risk posed by climatic virability and change in order to protect lives and even the ecosystem.
Towards this end, relevant government agencies must identify areas prone to flood risk with view to putting in place measures to cut back its effects. There is need for adequate preparation for the inevitable. Kwara State government must be seen to do the needful to save the situation. It is unfortunate that people built houses on flood plains and river banks, which block water ways and makes water to find alternative routes to the detriment of residents living and property within radius of such river. The blame can only be laid at the door step of the state Town Planning Authority.
This is one of the unsafe practices that needs to be vehemently discouraged. Government should prevent people from building in flood-prone areas. Houses occupying right of way of water should be demolished and the affected people resettled elsewhere.
The Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed led administration should prevent flooding prediction given its grave consequences for the people and the environment. It is the responsibility of every government to protect lives of the citizenry. Construction of proper drainages across the state will ensure easy drainage of excess rainwater to prevent washing away of top soil (erosion), which contributes to flooding, while sanitation rules must be enforced for safer environment. The quick completion of channelisation and dredging of some rivers in the state through synergy between the state and federal government is a sure way of curbing flood in the state.
Residents on their part have role to play in this. People resident in flood-prone areas must be vigilant and relocate to safer places to avoid disaster.
Wastes should be properly disposed and to stop them from blocking existing drainage channels. The citizenry, too, need to change their attitudes which are culminating into environmental hazards. All hands must be on deck to make our environment a safe habitat.
The quantum economic loss from such disaster is best imagine and as such, should be prevented at all costs.