Past leaders of Akwa Ibom State have been blamed by the Udom administration for allegedly abandoning the state’s Master Plan for flood control. This is as signs are emerging that flood will again wreck havoc in the state this year.
Heavy downpour on Friday night created artificial rivers in most streets in Uyo, the state capital.
This is however, coming on the heels of warning by Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, that 233 local government areas within 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are at a high risk of flooding in the country.
In Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, flood destroyed 100 houses and displaced 300 persons in 2020. It displaced some residents in Edem Udo, Grace Bill, Marina Junction, Udoh Umoh, Stadium road, Ikot Udoma, Idua road among other adjoining streets in Eket.
The flood was as a result of persistent rainfall, and bad drainage system in the area. A resident of Edem Udom in Eket, Ubong Mark, said he had suffered from effects of flooding in the area for the past 10 years.
He pointed out that the flood has thrown residents and shop owners into distress and confusion as the heavy rainfall does not allow shop owners access to their shops. Mark is urging the state and local authorities to come to their aid, insisting that flood is one of the greatest challenges facing citizens in Akwa Ibom.
Grace E. U. Sampson, a resident in the Grace Bill axis of Eket town where most banks are located, is also crying for help as flood is threatening to strike again this year in the area.
While appealing to Akwa Ibom State Government to construct drainage in the area to save residents from the perennial annual flood, she said some residents of the affected area often take refuge in areas where the flood did not penetrate.
She, however, attributed the flooding to residents’ improper disposal of refuse that caused blockage of the drainage system in Eket. “The bad drainage system is the main reason for this flooding. There is nowhere for the water to go through, that is why the roads are flooded.
“Whenever flood strikes, it always affect the activities of residents living in the area, as such, there is need for urgent intervention from the government to arrest the situation which is posing a threat to their sources of livelihood’’, she said.
The Udom Emmanuel administration has been attributing perennial flooding and erosion in the state capital and its environs to successive governments’ failure to follow the drainage Master Plan for Uyo Capital Territory.
Commissioner for Environment, Charles Udoh, says most of the erosion and flood prone areas in the metropolis are induced by activities of residents since according to him they are building houses on water channels.
“Unfortunately, the Uyo drainage master plan was not followed in the past, so we are building an 8.4km drains that will take water from the Atiku Abubakar Way to the Secretariat roundabout, linking up to the Women Development Centre along IBB Way to Atan Offot and the PDP secretariat.
“Because of the volume of water in the areas, the drainage will carry 50,000 litres of water per second. That is what we are doing in the IBB Flood Project. We also sought emergency intervention around Etim Umanah and Anua, which is being expected by August.
Udoh explains that his ministry has received several compliments about noise pollution, stressing that as the ministry continues in its sensitisation and awareness campaign, it would begin to prosecute offenders.
On mining business, he said, “mining is in the exclusive list. Illegal sand and gravel mining are dangerous to our environment. When it comes to mining, we are saying that if people are dredging a river, they can’t go lower than 150 meters close from the bank of the river to avoid triggering erosion. And on land, they must not dredge lower than 500meters from critical infrastructure.
“Sadly, today a case in point is between Eket and Onna where someone was arrested for dredging under the bridge. A bridge can collapse and the environment devastated because of dredging. We want to ensure that people following the Law while engaging in the activities.”
In the meantime, the water resources minister made the disclosure during the presentation of the 2022 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, in Abuja.
The outlook, themed “Flood management and food Security”, is targeted towards flood early warning, and forecasting in order to minimise the adverse effects of flood on lives.
“Some 233 local government areas in 32 states of the federation and Abuja fall within the highly probable risk areas, while 212 Local government areas in 35 states, including FCT, fall within the moderately flood risk areas.
According to the minister, Benue, Cross Rivers, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna and Kano, Adamawa, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi and Bayelsa fall within the highly flood risk areas.
Director Deneral of Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Clement Nze, said the overall objective of the event was to sensitise planners, decision and policy makers, farmers, stakeholders and the public.
While calling for preventive measures to improve on safety and reduce damages to lives and properties, he adds, “we believe that this will go a long way in creating awareness, enhancing planning and promoting sustainable socio-economic development through effective flood risk mitigation and management.’’