ENVIRONMENT Early warning as Kwara flood renders hundreds homeless
The year 2014 rainy season has barely started when, recently, many residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, were rendered homeless following a flood that accompanied a late night downpour.
The ugly event, according to experts, is a tip of what to expect as rainy season creeps in unless urgent steps are taken to avert the recurrence of 2012 flood, Daily Trust reports.
The devastation witnessed in Kwara State during the year 2012 flood which rendered several thousands homeless is no doubt still fresh in the memories of those affected. It was a flood of fury which the state did not experience for over two decades.
Five out of the 16 local governments in the state were ravaged by the flood disaster. They included Patigi, Edu, Baruten, Moro and Ilorin South Local Governments as well as a portion of Ifelodun. The flood was said to have been aggravated as a result of the nearness of some of these local governments to River Niger and Asa and dams like Shiroro, Jebba, and Kainji.
As one of the states ravaged by last year’s flood, Kwara benefitted in the windfall provided by the federal government to the flood affected states with the state getting as much as N300million.
However, the state is at it again with last week’s flood which killed four people, rendered many people homeless and swept away cars, among others. This, many believe, has underscored the need for a proactive, urgent and holistic step to prevent a more devastating disaster through an effective drainage system and aggressive enlightenment campaign to discourage dumping of refuse into canals and waterways.
Apart from the intervention fund to cushion the effect of flood on the affected communities, one of the measures being taken to avert future flooding is the dredging and channelisation of Asa River which usually overflows during rainy season and render many people homeless.
Though the dredging has commenced last year, investigations by Daily Trust showed that not much work has been done on the dredging owing to failure of residents around the area to comply with the relocation order.
It was gathered that the first phase of the project would cover Coca-Cola Bridge to Unity Bridge and it will pass through Emir’s Road Bridge and Amilengbe Bridge, all in Ilorin metropolis. It is expected to be 40 meters wide and 25 meters each at both sides.
The Project Director of the Firm handling the Project, Engr. Idowu Salau, in an interview in Ilorin, disclosed that over 60 structures have been marked to give way for the dredging and the channelisation of the river.
He said: “Some of the houses marked for demolition by the Town Planning Development Authority has not been demolished which is affecting the channelisation of the river. Only five out of the over 60 houses marked for demolition have certificate of occupancy.
He urged residents of Isale Asa off Amilegbe road, Ilorin, to be patient with the contractor handling the channelisation of the Asa River and assured them that the problem facing the residents as a result of the ongoing work on the project would be addressed within the next one month.
“The Federal Government initially approved 50 meters walkaway before it was reduced to 25, now to 15 which allowed some structures not to be demolished.
“We decided to build a concrete base after dredging the river so that our efforts would not be futile. This really assisted to control flooding that occurred recently in Ilorin. Flood has no boundary, if the Asa River was not widened, the flood would have cause havoc on some residents of ilorin metropolis.
“A beer parlour has been marked for demolition because it is seriously affecting our work, even the Salem House must be demolished completely because it was built at the centre of the river.”
Salau also blamed the Kwara State Government for the slow pace of work on the project, saying that the agency saddled with the responsibility to mark the structures for demolition has not shown the zeal to do its work.
Speaking with our correspondent, the state Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Alhaji Abubakar Mora, said government would do something fast and quick to avert the recurrence of 2012 disaster, urging residents living in floodprone areas to relocate as directed by the government.
Meanwhile, the state government has constituted a seven-member Task Force on flood control and restoration of Ilorin master plan.
A statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, said the task force would work on the restoration of llorin master plan to guide against future distortion.
The statement said the committee would determine the immediate and remote causes of the recent flooding in Ilorin, the state capital, and provide the way forward on how to ensure compliance with Ilorin township master plan.
The statement said the task force would also work to prevent environmental degradation and all forms of flood related losses.
The committee is expected to submit its report in six weeks time to the state government.
It is, therefore, expected that the government would do the needful to avert danger as the rainy season creeps in because a stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
Area affected by rain storm in Ilorin recently.