…As Senator Saraki raises hope of oil communities
From CHRIS ANUCHA, Port Harcourt
No fewer than 1,000 persons had been displaced by flood in Rivers State. This is even, as members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, led by its Chairman and former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki were on fact-finding mission in the state. The state Commissioner for Environment, Dr Nyema E. Weli, who was in the Committee’s entourage, was shocked at the magnitude of the havoc caused by the flood, which according to him, was not brought to the notice of his Ministry. The flood was as a result of the over-flow of River Niger which affected Orashi River.
Badly hit by the disaster were indigenes of Mbiama, Akinima, and four communities that made up Joinkrama in Ahoada-West Local Government Area. Not spared by the natural disaster were people living in Ndoni in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the state. Most of the houses affected by the flood had been vacated, while those who had nowhere to run to, were seen floating on the water, probably, hoping that help could come their way someday.
A visit to the affected communities in Ahoada-West Local Government Area yesterday morning, revealed that many residents were making frantic efforts, to save their property and to evacuate displaced persons. Many buildings, including those under construction, were sub-merged by the ravaging flood. Also affected were, streets where residents used canoes to transport stranded victims to various points and safe areas. Farm lands were also covered by flood, while farmers were seen hurriedly harvested their crops prematurely, especially, cassava and yams, to avoid losing them to the flood. Daily Sun gathered that residents of the area usually witness flood in every month of November, due to the overflow of Orashi River, but this year’s disaster was described as exceptional.
This was also confirmed by an indigene of Edageberi-Betterland, in Joinkrama community, MrBonny Otatie Ulolo who described this year’s flood as unprecedented in the history of the communities. Expressing surprise at the ugly development, Dr. Weli said the state government was not informed of the flood by the authorities of Ahoada-East Local Government. The Commissioner, who inquired from the Permanent Secretary, why the flood incident had not been brought to his notice said: “ I was wondering where people are now staying, since water had taken over their houses.
I am not aware of this situation before now.” He, however, promised to bring the matter before the State Executive Council and the State House of Assembly. Reacting to the flood incident, Senator Saraki, who was deeply touched by the plight of the indigenes of the state, due to environmental degradation, regretted the displacement of people in the area, and assured that the Committee would make a formal request to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to their aid.
The Committee members, which included, Senator Oluwaje Kunlere, from Ondo-South and Senator Sadiq Yar’Adua, from Katsina –Central, had earlier visited Egita in Egiland, where there was gas eruption in April this year. Members of the Committee, who also visited the site of the gas eruption, said they were in Egita to see things for themselves.