By Suzan Edeh, Bauchi
Bauchi State, it would appear, is still battling to come to terms with the lives lost and property destroyed during recent flood incidents in the state. Many residents of the state, especially those living in the rural areas were forced to abandon their homes to seek refuge elsewhere, even in unpleasant places. Precisely on August 15, 2013, there was a heavy downpour that lasted for several hours in the state. The resultant flood affected several households as many buildings collapsed and properties were destroyed.
The talking point for now is the confirmation by the State Management Agency, SEMA, that the flood resulting from the heavy downpour early this month claimed the lives of a nine-year-old girl and three women. SEMA Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Inuwa Bello, who visited the affected areas in the state said farmlands and houses worth N76 million were destroyed and the worst affected in Bauchi are Alkaleri,Zaki and Bogoro local government areas.
One of the residents of Bauchi metropolis, Hajiya Aishatu Mohammed Shekal, said flood has continued to ravage the area for more than two decades. According to her: “We have drainage, but it is too small; so government must come and expand it, even if it will affect some houses, we don’t mind. Whenever the flood comes, we cannot sleep because the water can reach up to the chest of a man. It has destroyed properties worth millions of naira”.
Another resident, Garba Abdullahi, lamented that the constant flood in the area has led to poor harvest of crops as well as collapse of his house. According to him: “I have suffered extreme loss of my properties and farmland each time there is flood in this area. The flood here has made my crops to die, so I have to plant two times in a year, sometimes three times. It has also made me to lose valuable properties”.
In another development, over 60 houses and properties estimated to be worth more than N2 million were destroyed at Gurmo village in Itas-Gadau Local Government Area of the State. The rain, according to residents, lasted till the following morning, causing damages and destruction on many houses in the village.
Although the state government has disbursed over N400 million to victims of flood disaster across the state to cushion for their predicaments, many of the victims are still counting their losses which they said no amount of money can ever compensate them.
The problem of flood in the state which has lasted for years remains a constant concern to the state government against the backdrop of the resulting severe erosion and outbreaks of epidemics.
It would be recalled that the 2012 flood disaster that hit many parts of the state left many residents homeless and also deprived them of their sources of livelihood. The situation was worse for those who also lost their dear ones. It was an experience that has continued to haunt them.
Going by last year’s weather prediction of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Bauchi State was among the states listed as being vulnerable to flooding this year. To this end, the state government was advised to put measures in place to forestall the occurrence of flood disaster.
But the State Governor, Isa Yuguda, had on several occasions reiterated the commitment of his administration to ensure the protection of lives and properties, especially from the devastating effects of flood. Hear Yuguda: “When I was re-elected as Governor of the State, I swore an oath that I will ensure the security of lives and properties. If I fall short of this responsibility, when I die, God will ask me of the souls that were lost in my administration without due process of the law.”
As if to back his words with action, Gov Yuguda only recently visited several communities in the state that were ravaged by flood.
Before the commencement of the Sallah celebrations, government had through the state sanitation emergency agency, mobilized residents of the state to clear-up drainage channels and gutters to allow free passage of water. But for this pre-emptive action, the downpour would have been more devastating. Affected by the resultant flood were areas such as Wunti-dada, Gombe road, Bayara, Railway,Kofan-rame,federal locust, Bakin Kura, among others.
Addressing residents during his visit to the affected communities, Gov Yuguda who was accompanied by the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Sani Malami and the Commisioner of Works and Special Duties, Alhaji Bappa Azare, enjoined them on the need to keep a healthy environment in order prevent flooding. He also ordered the State Tipper’s Association and the youths in the state to clear-up all the drainage channels and gutters to avoid blockage of water passage.
Later in the day, Yuguda addressed a press conference at the Government House, Bauchi where he warned residents of state living along river basins to relocate in order to avoid further loss of lives and properties.
He lamented over the recurring flood disaster over the years in the country with unwarranted toll in human lives apart from those rendered homeless and deprived of their sources of livelihood.
According to Gov Yuguda: “The devastating effects of flood in the state last year can only be imagined. That is why we are warning people to avoid constructing fences along the water pathways because the water gets trapped without any passage and can lead to collapse of buildings. People should also ensure that the clear-up their gutters and drainage so that water can have an easy passage. We should use the resources at our disposal to secure our lives and properties, instead waiting for disaster to strike”.
A visibly emotional Yuguda who expressed sympathy for those who lost their lives and properties during the heavy downpour, urged the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently embark on the construction of the Kafin-zaki dam to advert more flood disasters in the state.
Lamenting the paucity of fund to address sectors in dire need of attention, he disclosed that his administration had nevertheless budgeted the sum of N25 million for the construction of drainage.
He advised that people should imbibe the policy of self-help in order to avoid depending entirely on the state government, saying: “The population of Nigeria is growing at the rate of ten percent annually and unfortunately, the resources and services we have are overstretched because we have not expanded our revenue resources”.
The state government further intensified the sanitation of the state by declaring a two-day work free for civil servants in the state to participate in clearing drainage and water channels.