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Otuoke raises flood alarm, seeks FG’s help

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By Abraham Adekunle

Bayelsa community was one of the worst hit during the flood in 2022.

Otuoke Community in the Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa State have called on the Federal and State Governments for intervention against predicted flooding. Mr. John Okubowei, Chairman of the Otuoke Community Development Association, made the call on behalf of the community during a recent interview. He noted that the association had identified canals, creeks and some blocked natural waterways, which needed to be opened to avoid a repeat of the 2022 flood disaster in the community.

Okubowei said that as a kind of self-help following the residents’ experiences in the 2012 and 2022 ravaging floods, the community had since cleared the blocked natural waterways and even pulled down structures erected on them. According to him, the community did not have the resources to procure equipment and manpower for the desilting and opening of creeks and canals identified as possible flood flashpoints. This has necessitated their appeal. The community would need more help from the state government as well as from the central government as the fear of flooding increases again.

One of the worst hit communities in 2022 floods.

In 2022, floods affected many parts of the country. According to the Federal Government, the flood displaced over 1.4 million people and killed more than 600. There were more than 2,400 injuries and about 82,000 houses were damaged while hundreds of thousands of hectares of land were affected. Nigeria experiences seasonal flooding. In fact, it happens in the posh neighborhoods of Lekki in Lagos as well as in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.

However, the 2022 flood was the worst in the country since the one in 2012. Many people had blamed the failure of the government to construct the Dasin Hausa Dam to prevent the flow from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon from flooding states in Nigeria. Reportedly, the Cameroonian government had warned that the release of water from its dam could cause flooding in Nigeria. Cameroon had to release water from the dam in order to prevent it from bursting. This contributed to the mass flooding that happened in 2022.

Chairman calls on the government to be proactive.

Even as the community hosts the federal university in the state as well as it is the hometown of former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, the community has been left to protect themselves. The chairman noted that the community suffered the ravaging floods in 2012 and again ten years later. Though in 2012, because we quickly raised the alarm, succor also came our way quickly. “However, the community didn’t receive much attention during the 2022 floods.”

So, he called on the federal and state governments, all stakeholders and all relevant government agencies to come to their aid. He said that the government should build Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and other facilities which will cater for the needs of the community as the floods are coming. He also said that officials must not wait until the floods start before putting these structures in place because it may be too late then.

Impact would be minimized if identified areas are fixed.

As residents in the community have identified possible flashpoints, Okubowei said that the government has not shown up to clear any of the blocked canals or creeks in the community like they have done in some parts of the state. He said that possible flashpoints of the floods in the community are the Ebirimo, Ologakpo, Elabio and Okiko canals. He emphasized that clearing of the Elebele-Otuoke-Ogbia Town Creek was very significant toward curtailing the impending flood.

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