EN­VI­RON­MENT Early warn­ing as Kwara flood ren­ders hun­dreds home­less

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, Ilorin

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.

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