• Save us, locals beg Osinbajo
By Bashir Bello, Katsina
Last year, precisely July 16, 2018, Jibia local government area of Katsina State was in the news following a torrential rainfall which claimed over 50 lives with some corpses washed away and later recovered from as far as Niger Republic.
The flood also washed away vehicles and destroyed over 400 houses and farmlands while about 2,000 livestock were lost.
The incident happened when a nearby river overflowed and moved in reverse order to cause the flooding.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, who was abroad at the said, visited Katsina to sympathize with victims and pledged the Federal Government’s readiness to reconstruct drainage to prevent reoccurrence of flooding in the locality and relocate affected persons.
However, ahead of this year’s rains, Jibia residents fear flood may come again as none of the promises made by government has been fulfilled.
According to the residents, they can’t sleep with their two eyes closed because of the fear of another round of flood.
Their fear is not misplaced.
A recent rainfall in the area that lasted for hours, from Friday night through to Saturday morning, reportedly claimed the lives of a 13-year-old boy identified as Usman Jafar and another whose identity was not disclosed in Sabon Garin – Malamai area of Jibia.
We’re upset once it’s cloudy or about to rain – Ali
An old man, Sayyadi Ali, who claimed that part of his house was washed away in Dan Tudu by last year’s flood and now left with a single room standing alongside a make-shift room, said residents get upset anytime clouds are gathering and about to rain.
He said residents stay awake and on the watch whenever it rains.
“Once there are clouds, even if it is 1am, whether it is going to rain or not, we are awake because of our previous encounter. The latest rain started around 12 midnight. At that time, the flood disaster also occurred around 12 midnight. I rescued my grandchildren by putting them on a tree but their legs dangling in flowing water”, he said.
“Our house was filled to the brim like a dam. It was not until the wall of my neighbour’s house collapsed that we escaped as the water found a way to flow out.
“We escaped unhurt but couldn’t salvage even a needle. My Al-Quran was washed away; 50 barns of grains and other properties were also washed away.
“Our appeal to government is for them to come and reconstruct the drainage as promised. Drainage is our main problem.
“We are squatting in this make-shift house. Once we see clouds, even if it is 12 midnight, we don’t sleep. We will sit until it clears because of our previous encounter.
“The state government has actually come to our aid. They gave us plates, maize, cement, blankets and woods.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to come and reconstruct the drainage as promised and, if possible, they should help us reconstruct our buildings”.
We live in fear – Umar
Another resident, Abdulmalik Umar, who lamented that his house (five-room apartment) was washed away by last year flood, said he now lives in a rented apartment.
Umar said residents live in perpetual fear of downpour.
“I am one of the victims of last year’s flood in this area. Over 65 people, livestock and cars were washed away by the flood. Some of the corpses were found in Niger Republic”, he said.
“I lost my five-room apartment to the flood. I now rented a four-room apartment to cater for my family in Tudun Tikari Tsohowo.
“After the flood, the Vice President and Governor Aminu Bello Masari visited us to sympathize with us. And VP Osinbajo promised to reconstruct our drainage and pay compensation to those who lost their properties to the flood.
“But one year after, nothing has been done to that effect. Last week, Governor Masari said they will fulfil the promise.
“Our lives are not the same because whoever rented an apartment, the rent will finish. We don’t have money to pay for rent. There are over 300 people living in rented houses.
“Everyone living in this area lives in fear. Once it is cloudy and about to rain, everybody will go out of his house with his wives and children to high places for safety.
“After the incident, the FG brought 13 trailers of relief materials and, since that time, nothing has been done. Wealthy individuals have also assisted us.
“And when the time comes to pay compensation, they should give affected individuals directly and not through any group”.
We’re still battling with where to live – Sani who ‘lost bride’
Another resident of Dan Tudu Sabuwar, Sani Yahaya, who claimed to have lost his bride, Hindatu, and house to the flood, said victims were still battling with where to live.
“We are still battling with where to live because, after the incident which washed away our house, I rented an apartment for my parents and I”, he said.
“Even the rent has expired. So, I am trying to reconstruct the collapsed structure even if it is one room to relieve me of the burden of paying rent.
“And we are many, about eight of us staying in one-room-apartment.
“So I am thinking of rebuilding one room from the collapsed structure but the fear again is we are in rainy season and the drainage has not been reconstructed as promised by the Federal Government”.
Mai Zandam, Ambassador Gidado Farufaru, called on the Federal Government to fulfil the promises made to the people affected by the flood.
“Actually, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to Jibia, on behalf of Mr. President, to sympathize and our people were so happy about his concern over the flood incident. “There he pledged that the Federal Government would provide drainage that will channel flood water away.
“Similarly, he promised the relocation of affected people. And it is almost one year and nothing is on the ground.
“Now, it is rainy season, actually these people are more disturbed. Some of the people affected said they cannot sleep once it is cloudy and raining.
“I use this opportunity to call on the Federal Government to fulfil their pledge. They should come and do the drainage so that when flood water comes, it will pass easily.
“And doing this will give the people confidence to rebuild their destroyed houses.
“Let me use this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to the Katsina State government for helping the people with some amenities. They provided shelter for the people”.
Sunday Vanguard contacted the leadership of a committee set up by Jibia LGA to cater for the victims of the flooding.
Committee Chairman, Gide Dahiru Jibia, said they were hoping to see that work to reconstruct the drainage commences soon to avert reoccurrence of flooding.
Dahiru, who doubles as Chairman of Jibia Peoples Forum, said the state government had proposed a place, Sokoto Rima quarters, to relocate victims, saying a monitoring team had visited the place.
“Last year when the incident happened, we received dignitaries, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. During the visit, Prof. Osinbajo promised that something will be done especially in the areas of drainage and relocation of affected persons.
“In this aspect, we have received teams of engineers visiting the scene of incident towards fulfilling this pledge but nothing has been done.
“They were taken round affected areas. They have seen the extent of the disaster. They took measurements, records as per that and also made recommendations.
“A team and representatives of World Bank and NEWMAP were also here sometime ago. They came and made a promise that the World Bank would intervene. But nothing seems to have taken place. So, we don’t know the position now.
“The other pledge by the Vice President was to relocate those affected and living in flood prone areas, and that government will build houses for them. On this too, we are still waiting.
“Katsina State government proposed a place, Sokoto Rima quarters. The governor delegated our state House of Assembly member, engineers from the Ministry of Works and I, and we visited the place and reported back to the governor that the land is enough for relocation.
“The governor is a listening governor. And he is making efforts to see that this thing is actualized”.
Meanwhile, the state House of Assembly has reminded the federal and state governments on the need to redeem their pledge to the affected victims.
Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, from the flood incident were initially camped at Muhammadu Rabiu Model Primary School, Jibia but were later relocated upon resumption of the school children to Jibia Modern Market.
Later, it was reliably gathered that the state government rented apartments to relocate the victims from the market facility.
The communities badly affected by last year’s flooding in the state include Kwata, Dan Tudu Sabuwar, Turaki, Tukare, Tsohuwar Tukare and Ungwar Mai Kwari.