Flood Ravages North Again
RAINFALL has again wreaked havoc in the North. In Kaduna State, it was a tale of woe. Last Sunday, residents began to observe that River Kaduna was threatening to overflow its banks. And by Monday, the deed had been done: houses, companies, religious buildings in the metropolis and communities in some local government areas had been submerged.
It took more than 24 hours before the state government and its emergency agency could deploy rescue teams to the affected areas.
Residents at Kigo, Barnawa, Tudun Wada, Ungwar Rimi, Kabala, Costain and other communities were forced to keep vigil in the open, after the midnight flood had chased them from their homes. Altogether, about 3000 houses were submerged.
When on Tuesday men of the national and state emergency teams visited Kigo in Kaduna metropolis, angry flood victims confronted them, forcing them to suspend their planned assessment of the situation. Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), led by the Director General, Alhaji Sani Sidi, escaped being mobbed by hundreds of the victims along Kigo road.
Over 300 houses were submerged in Kigo. The irate victims rained abuses on the convoy of NEMA and SEMA (State Emergency Management Agency). It took the effort of the Alhaji Sidi, armed security personnel and community leaders in the area to calm the nerves of the youths.
One of the angry youth said: “It is unfortunate you people are here after we have been rendered homeless since yesterday (Monday) by this flood. As you can see our houses, from here, they are now in the middle of the flood. We thought you would bring boats and canoes to rescue our properties, but you came here empty handed, just to come and watch and return to Abuja.”
Alhaji Sidi who cut short his address to the flood victims said: “We are here to assess the unfortunate situation and see how we can immediately offer assistance,” adding that government would definitely come to the aid of all the affected people.
Speaking with journalists following the unpleasant reception by the flood victims, Alhaji Sidi said: “I think this is normal when people are displaced, especially given the fact that they were not prepared for what happened, even though they had been warned.
“You are aware that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had issued its seasonal prediction, which showed that all the states it mentioned would be flooded. Now, we have a situation on our hands where about 10 local governments were affected by flood today in Kaduna State. There are 16 local government areas affected in Jigawa, about 17 in Kebbi and almost 20 in Adamawa State.
“And there are also other states mentioned in NIMET’s prediction. We have in the last two months been issuing warnings, advising that there would be flood, and we need to move people that live in prone areas to safer places. But they never took the warnings seriously. Now, when the incident happened in Kaduna, on Monday, the governor went round and sympathised with the victims and promised them assistance. We have come from Abuja to visit and carry out on-the-spot assessment and see the best way we can assist these people.
“So, the first thing to do now is move them to a safe place. We spoke with the management of Ahmadu Bello Stadium and they have agreed to give us a place where we can have temporary accommodation for the victims, pending when the flood recedes. We are going to provide them with food and other materials.”
Commenting on the reasons for the flood, Sidi explained: “You recall that in 2012, we had a similar incident that was even more devastating than what we are witnessing now. In 2012, Cameroun released water from its dam. It is a routine maintenance they carry out when the dam is about to overflow.
“They release water annually. We have information about this and it has been passed to the relevant state authorities for action. We keep saying that early warnings must be matched with early action, but this has never been done.”
The havoc wreaked by the flood was not limited to Kaduna alone. No fewer than 53 people died in 11 states, with more than 100,420 displaced. Thousands of houses, farmlands and property worth billions of naira were lost to the disaster in local government areas in Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi.
In Kano State, a Director with the State Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SERERA), Sabi’u Mohammed, said in an interview that 12 people lost their lives.
“The deceased lost their lives in six local government areas of the state between August and September. Six persons died in Shonono; two each in Dala and Tudun Wada; and one each in Gabasawa and Takai local government areas.” He added that more than 1, 600 persons were displaced while property worth millions of naira was destroyed.
Mohammed explained that officials from NEMA had already visited some of affected areas and assessed the situation. “At our own level, we have submitted a comprehensive report to the state government for possible assistance to the victims. I am happy to inform you that the government had recently approved N15.8 million for the purchase and distribution of relief materials in Albasu local government area,” he said.
Mr. Thickman Tanimu, Deputy Head, Sokoto Zonal Operations Office of NEMA, said 10 people died in Zamfara, while a seven-year-old boy died at Kuchi village in Kebbe local government of Sokoto State.
Tanimu said more than 86, 710 hectares of farmland valued at N1.58 billion were destroyed in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States, adding that a total of 20,477 homes were affected, with 46, 200 people rendered homeless. He further explained that the flood affected eight out of the 14 local government areas in Zamfara, including Shinkafi, Talata Mafara, Gusau, Anka, Tsafe, Bungudu, Zurmi and Maradun.
The official noted that 8,540 houses and 6,450 hectares of farmland valued at N260 million were destroyed in the affected areas. According to him, 11 of the 23 local governments in Sokoto State were affected, while two communities in Wurno and Goronyo local governments had to be evacuated.
“The other local governments affected were Rabah, Kware, Binji, Kebbe, Gwadabawa, Wamakko, Bodinga, Sokoto North and Sokoto South,” he said. He added that 24,750 people and 6, 922 houses were affected with 42,800 hectares of farmlands worth N750 million either totally destroyed or badly affected.
The NEMA official noted that 10 of the 21 local governments in Kebbi State were also affected by the disaster. They are Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Kalgo, Dandi, Bagudo, Yauri, Danko Wasagu and Suru. He disclosed that 21,450 people and 5,015 houses were affected, while 37,460 hectares of farmlands worth N570 million were destroyed.