As the rainy season continues, an environmental expert has expressed fear that over 54 communities in Rivers State face the risk of being submerged if flooding prevails in the areas.
The expert, Sunny Okocha, who delivered a lecture in the state recently, said unless there was immediate intervention, the over 54 communities in Obio Akpor Local Government Area of the state risk being submerged.
Our correspondent further visited some of the communities in the state where the residents lamented the rampaging flood that has displaced some of them and destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
Flooding continues untamed
Records showed that in 2016 and 2017, the state government evacuated many residents from Old Ahoada province where several communities were submerged. The government lodged them at various Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the state.
In Oyigbo community, many inhabitants of Mbano camp had to relocate to neighbouring communities as flood ravaged the area. Those that stayed behind had to engage canoe paddlers to ferry them to and from their houses.
Daily Trust reports that earlier this year, hundreds of people were affected by flood in Port Harcourt City, Obio Akpor, Oyigbo and old Ahoada as they were displaced and lost properties.
Council boss blames residents’ careless acts
Following the untamed flooding, the Chairman of Obio Akpor LGA, Solomon Ekeh, recently vowed to contain the disaster.
While addressing residents of Rumuodumaya community, Ekeh however blamed the residents for causing the flood through their careless attitude towards the environment.
He frowned at a situation where people dumped waste in drains and water channels thereby obstructing free flow of water, only to turn around and cry over flooding.
The chairman also berated them for deliberately selling land close to water channel which he said resulted in the flooding of the area. Mr Ekeh vowed to demolish any structure blocking water channels and sought the cooperation of the chiefs and community leaders to address the problem.
Environmentalists, communities seek action
In his lecture on, ‘Obio Akpor Local Government: The Role of Flood Disaster Management’, the environmental expert, Sunny Okocha, attributed the flood to the craze for urbanization.
He said the excitement for urbanization forced people who should not be in the towns to migrate to cities and add to the congestion of the environment.
Okocha highlighted the negative impact of flooding to include breeding diseases and loss of lives. He therefore called for a concerted efforts to curb the menace through the planting of trees and imbibing good sanitation habits.
In his submission, another environmentalist, Dr Jackson Omenazu, backed the council boss on the demolition of houses blocking natural water channels especially around the watersides in the state.
Omenazu charged the LGA leadership to create an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee to work with other environment agencies that would demand for EIA reports before developing any new structure.
Community leaders from the 17 wards of the LGA lamented the menace of flooding and blamed government contractors for not appropriately channeling water into drainages to check flooding.
They therefore called on government to come to their aid by prevailing on the construction companies to become compliant, adding that flood recently affected over eight communities including Nkpolu, Ogbogoro and Rumuibekwe in the LGA. The state government has lamented over the perennial flood menace which it blamed the residents for as they blocked water channels and flood routes.
The Commissioner for Environment, Prof. Rosaline Konya, while sympathising with the victims of flooding in the state recently, threatened to pull down houses built on water channels.
Prof. Konya said the ministry will soon embark on pulling down of houses and structures built on water channels as a measure to checkmate perennial flooding across the state, especially in Port Harcourt.