By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The surging River Benue water that few days ago sacked hundreds of houses in Makurdi the state capital has escalated further with the premises of Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, the state owned transportation company, Benue Links, the Federal Urban Mass Transit Motorpark all submerged.
The flood water which is rising by the hour has also forced close to 2,000 househoods out of their abode in search of safer areas as more houses located about three kilometres from the river bank go under water.
When Vanguard visited the Mu Bridge near the Nigeria Air Force Base Makurdi, Kilometre Five, Kucha Utebe community, Wurukum rice mill and timber market as well as abattoir, Gyado Villa community and Jibata area of Wadata the fast rising water had submerged most of the buildings on those axis up to roof level.
At the BSUTH the flood had already pulled down part of its perimeter fence, at the Benue Links complex, and Wurukum Mass Transit Park the flood had taken over portions of their premises with the power house of BSUTH and the residential quaters at the brink of going under water.
Some of the victims who could not hide their pain and anger lamented the failure of the Federal Government to have River Benue dredged several years after the promise was made.
The Secretary of the Federal Assisted Mass Transit Drivers Association, Agagbe Teryila who decried the dislocation of business activity at the park said, “we are completely disappointed in the Federsl Government. We had a similar flood in 2012 and the government ought to have dredged this river to check a reoccurrence but they did not, knowing that the Cameroonian authorities can at anytime release water from their dam, but they failed to do that.
“See how we are all suffering, our park has been submerged and we have been forced to move our vehicles out to the road. All the business people operating in the park to feed their families have been dislodged by the water and we are all helpless. Please the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency dredge River Benue to save us this trauma.”
On his part, a retired Warrant Officer of the Nigerian Army, James Ikyaagba who was seen evacuating his family and personal effects from Kucha Utebe said, “my house is already under water so I have no choice but to move my wife and children out of our home.
“It is not a good experience becaue this is my personal house and it is difficult to move everything in the three bedroom house to somebody’s house. We don’t even know where to sleep. The Federal Government should dredge the river in order to address this challenge.”
Also Benjamin Ikyav who said when the water level of the river started rising about two weeks ago “we thought it was the normal situation we witness every rainy season but the water level refused to drop. I had to move out of my house and moved some of my belongings into the ceiling of the house and traveled. But I came back only to discover that the entire placed has been taken over by water and my residence is completely under water. I have lost all my very important properties.”
Also, a mother of two, Mr. Cecilia Eje who could not hold back tears said, “I don’t even know where to go with my children. When it started we ran to the house of our family friend, now their house has also gone under water and we don’t even know what to do. The government should address this problem. How can small Cameroon release water and our people in Nigeria start to feel the impact. The Federal Government should do something to mitigate the impact in our country.”
Reacting, the Benue state Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dr. Godwin Oyiwona said “the water level is increasing because of the increase in water level from the dam in Cameroon. We are encouraging people to leave the coastal areas to other safer areas.
“We are handling the area of rise in water level which is 11.1 meter. In 2012 when there was massive flooding in Benue State it was 12m. So, it is about .9m to get to that, so we are warning people to move away from the coastal line to higher grounds.”
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