By Wole Mosadomi
Niger State has experienced flooding in the past years which claimed lives and property worth millions of Naira destroyed.
In fact, the state is among those listed by the Nigeria Metrological Services (NIMET) to be prone to flooding annually.
For five consecutive years, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, the prediction of NIMET came to pass as many local government areas in Niger were flooded with houses, farmlands submerged and other valuables worth millions of Naira lost.
Because of the location of the three multi-million Naira hydro electricity dams – Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro – in the state, most of the communities living downstream of the dams are, more often than not, vulnerable and previous administrations’ efforts to persuade residents to vacate when excess water from the dams were released had fallen on deaf ears.
However, in 2012, the worst of flooding occurred in Niger with no fewer than 147 communities, spread across ten local government areas, worst hit.
Experts described the flooding that year in the state as the worst in 40 years.
Records show that about 23 kilometres of land in Mokwa, Lavun, Katcha and Bida local government areas, that are predominantly rice producing areas in the state, were swept away by the flood and this hampered rice production that year.
Apart from the rice producing areas, the entire Zone B, comprising Shiroro, Munyan, Rafi and Bosso local government areas, had their farmlands, estimated to be about 30 kilometres, submerged while some of the affected farmers are still counting their losses as they are yet to recover. Certainly, this is a disaster the state government cannot afford to happen again, and this is why Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is crying out to the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the administration towards tackling flooding in the state, saying “the financial implication is beyond our capability.”
Bello stated that that perennial flooding has not only caused damages to residences and farm produce in Niger but has also taken heavy tolls on roads, bridges and culverts.
According to him, over the past one year, flooding, occasioned by the commencement of the rainy season, had led to the collapse of no fewer than seven bridges and culverts on some critical and strategic roads across the state with threats to several others.
Besides, some villages have been submerged and residents displaced.
The governor, who spoke after inspecting the bridge on Minna-Bida Road at Kakapangi village in Bida local government area of the state, which had been swept away, after it was repaired, also said that some villages had been submerged by the flood.
He noted that the financial implication of the flooding was huge and beyond what the state administration could cope with, hence the appeal to the Federal Government to come to the aid of the state.
“Natural disaster is beyond everybody especially now that we have the effect of global warming and climate change. We are worst hit in Niger State. The flooding we have been experiencing in the state since the early stage of the rainy season this year has been a big threat to communities in riverine areas”, he said.
“At the moment, we have seven bridges in the state that have collapsed due to heavy rains and severe flooding. We have some villages submerged in water. The high level of water due to downpour in the last few days has rendered some strategic roads in bad shape.
“Aside from the debilitating effect of flooding that has rendered our roads weak, the volume of trailers and overweight articulated vehicles plying these roads have further worsened the situation of the roads. Some of the roads are as old as 30 years. They need to be rebuilt or reconstructed and this will require a lot of money that the state cannot afford.
“We have been consulting with relevant federal agencies and with the recent development and the magnitude of what is happening now, we will write reminders with pictures and video clips of the devastation, so that the Federal Government can come to our aid”.
Bello explained that, like the previous years, many villages and farmlands, especially on the banks of rivers Niger, Kaduna and Wuya, were already submerged even as he said that, besides the seven bridges already swept away, several others were being threatened.
The bridges swept away include Gulbim Boka in Mariga local government area and Babanrami in Mashegu local government area while roads leading to Etsugaie, Kutiriko, Kencikaje and Takuti in Agaie local government area have been rendered impassable by flood.
Ketso, the village where the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Ketso, hails from in Mokwa local government area, is among the communities submerged by flood.
Meanwhile, another flooding was reported in some villages in Rijau local government area of the state on Tuesday, prompting the governor, who was on an official engagement in Abuja, to fly home, to enable him take an aerial view of the affected areas.
On the heels of the disaster, Bello has advised people living in flood prone areas across Niger to be vigilant and proactive by relocating upland till the end of the rainy season while he also directed the state Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) to be ready to attend to any distress call.
In a related development, the Minna-Bida Road, which was submerged as a result of collapse of a bridge along the road last Thursday due to days of downpour, has been reopened due to the swift repair undertaken by the state government.