From CHRIS ANUCHA, Port Harcourt
The number of persons displaced by flood in Rivers State has risen to 830,000, while 183 communities across four local government areas were submerged. The Chairman, Rivers State Flood Relief Committees, and Deputy Governor of the state, Tele Ikuru disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The affected local government areas are; Abua/Odual, Ahoada-West, Ahoada-East and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni. According to the deputy governor, property worth billions of naira were either washed away or completely destroyed by the flood. He explained that the 11-member committee, set up by the state government to handle the challenges, arising from the flood was working with various agencies to reduce the sufferings of the displaced persons. According to him, the agencies are: Army,
Navy, Air Force, Police, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Red Cross and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), among others. According to him, since its inauguration two weeks ago, the committee had set up 26 resettlement camps across the four affected local government areas, to accommodate the displaced persons. He explained that relief materials, ranging from food items, firewood, mattresses, pillows, blankets, mosquito nets, treated water and electricity, were supplied to all the camps; while doctors and nurses were posted to the camps to provide medical service, among others. Tele Ikuru also disclosed that the state government had spent the sum of N300 million to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims.
The sum of N24 million was spent on buying wrappers for the female victims, while those who delivered babies in the camps had all their medical expenses paid by the state government. Meanwhile, eight persons had been reported dead in various camps, but the chairman of the committee said members were working round the clock to ensure that the victims regained what they lost to the flood.
He, however, disclosed how diversion of relief materials, indiscipline among inmates, uncooperative attitude of some victims and congestion in some camps were some of the challenges faced by the committee. He also condemned some chiefs and community leaders, who he said, engaged in favouritism and criminal diversion of the relief materials, meant for the flood victims, and warned that defaulters would be made to face the wrath of the law.
Meanwhile, Ikuru had expressed disappointment that NEMA could only give the state 500 mattresses and 200 food items since the disaster occurred over a month ago.