The Executive Director of Sustainable Environment and Peace Building Foundation, Authority Benson, has attributed the annual floods that displace thousands of people and destroy homes in Yenagoa to lack of urban planning model and its implementation in strategic locations in the state.
He said: “This has resulted to disorganised infrastructural development where both government agencies and individuals build houses on floodplains and canals blocking free flow of natural water and thus increasing the risk of flooding, erosion and land slide.”
The environmentalist, in a statement, said every year flood displaced thousands of families, destroyed homes, close down businesses, spread water-borne diseases and turned motorable roads and upland communities to fishing settlements in Yenagoa.
The result, according to him was increase in poverty, hunger, criminality, environmental pollution and contamination, spread of water-borne diseases, fear and anger among the population.
“Despite this reoccurring environmental challenge, the state government has failed to provide basic technical engineering and participatory environmental management approaches which are valid lasting solutions to flood abatement and prevention,” he said.
Benson said since the state’s creation, government’s response to flood incidents has been reactionary, cosmetic, conjectural and wholly inadequate, reflecting lack of interest at both state and local government levels, low commitment in development planning, and insensitivity to natural disasters.
“Bayelsa State government has no insurance scheme for those severely affected. No reliable provision for resettlements. Equally, there is no post flood rehabilitation plan, and any form of provision of relief materials are often poorly documented and poorly managed,” he said.
Benson also decried the recent Yenagoa Master Plan launched by Governor Seriake Dickson, saying it cannot be implemented because host communities were not consulted and engaged in the process of designing the plan, adding that “It was done in a hurry, thus lacks elements of global best practice approaches.”