Works Minister, Mr. Mike Onolememen
By Our Correspondents
After about five days of closure due to the severe flooding along the Abuja-Lokoja highway, the Federal Government Thursday announced the reopening of the road that was shut since Monday.
A statement in Abuja by the Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of Works, Mr Tony Ikpasaja, said the flooded portion of the Lokoja area, which led to the closure of the road, had been recovered through the joint efforts of Gitto, Julius Berger and RCC, three construction companies.
Works Minister, Mr. Mike Onolememen, during his visit to the flooded location last Monday, had promised Nigerians that the road would be safe for public use within 48 hours.
But beyond recovering the road, an alternative road has been provided to enable travellers to proceed on their journeys.
The spokesperson, Gitto Construction Company, Mr. Ajani Adeyemo, Thursday told reporters that the de-flooding of the road would be completed yesterday night and that it would be usable from Friday.
When THISDAY visited Banda Thursday, Gitto, Julius Berger and RCC construction companies were seen working on the road. Sand and stone had been deposited on the affected parts of the road, while earth moving vehicles were also on hand to finish the work by midnight.
But just as Lokoja was getting a reprieve, Lagos, which has hitherto been spared the menace of the ravaging flood, experienced over eight hours of continuous rainfall Thursday, triggering heavy flooding in some parts of the city.
The deluge of the rain in virtually all parts of Lagos State expectedly resulted in flooding which caused hardships to Lagosians, especially road users, as many of the metro roads and highways were taken over by the flood, resulting in long traffic snarl. Many highways such as the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway were almost completely cut off by the flood.
Other areas submerged by the downpour included Okota, Isolo, Jakande Estate, Ijora, Lekki, especially the Ibeju area, Victoria Island and some parts of Ikeja.
The rain, which started at about 3am, did not stop until Thursday afternoon. Motorists and pedestrians literally went through hell commuting within the metropolis. In order to forestall the loss of lives of schoolchildren as recorded in similar incidents in the past, some schools did not open for studies.
Narrating his ordeal, a resident, Mr. Anakwenze Ifeanyi, told THISDAY that although he had left home on time to beat traffic, he was not lucky enough to escape the Mile 2 gridlock.
Another Lagosian, who spoke to THISDAY, Mr. Ogo Ekwunife, said the rain prevented him from going to work. He said: “Initially I had thought of braving the rain but it was so heavy I had no choice but to undress and stay indoors.”
In Delta State, the ravaging flood displaced no less than 400 persons and led to the death of many others as well as the destruction of their property. The state government has set up a refugee camp at St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, to accommodate the displaced persons.
The Nigerian Immigration Service office in Asaba and most residential buildings along the River Niger bank in Asaba have either been submerged or washed away by the flood, while schools, health centres and churches were not spared.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who cut short his overseas trip, returned to the state to assess the flooded area in Asaba in a helicopter.
In a broadcast, he said that as part of the initial steps to give relief to the people, the government would also set up other camps at Tuomo in Burutu, Bomadi, Okwagbe and Patani.
Uduaghan lamented that it has been tales of woe for the people.
The governor said: “I am aware of instances where people rendered homeless climbed trees to survive. People have had to adopt different strategies to stay alive. In some of our affected communities, the situation was so bad; we had to send the navy to mount a rescue operation.”
The comptroller of the Delta State Command of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Ishaku Hamad, disclosed that snakes and other reptiles have taken over the complex because of the water level.
The flood also destroyed the country home of Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, in Toru-Orua. The special representative of the governor in Sagbama Local Government Area confirmed this Thursday.
The private home of the governor and those of many other people in the community have been deserted as the waters of the river continue to rise to a dangerous level.
Also submerged were the palaces of two prominent traditional rulers in the area, the paramount ruler of Sagbama, Ekadi Aziza and the Ebidaowei of Kabowei Kingdom, Hope Torruo.
Following a distress call from the people, the state government has sent a delegation to the area to look at possible ways of evacuating people from the affected areas, especially those in communities on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean.
Precarious as the situation is nationwide, experts from Jebba Dam Authority have warned that people living on the plains of Rivers Niger and Kaduna are to expect more flooding until February 2013, adding that what is being experienced is the white flood, while the black flood is yet to commence which they said comes with more destruction.
According to the Kuta of Muregi, Alhaji Mohammed Kuta, who disclosed this in Muregi, in Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State while receiving relief materials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the experts have warned them to expect more floods when they visited them after the recent flooding in the community.
The massive flood has also caused Benue State Governor, Hon. Gabriel Suswam, to call for the dredging of the River Benue to boost economic activities as well as control the menace of flooding in the state
The governor made the appeal at a shipping career summit in Makurdi Thursday.
Suswam, who was represented by the state Head of Service, Hon. Mike Iordye, noted that it was imperative now that other modes of transport like rail and road have to be reworked to serve the people.