Bayelsa flood menace
Not less than N50 million worth of relief items have been doled out to flood victims in Bayelsa State by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The items were distributed to those displaced by floods in seven local government areas in the state which remains one of the worst hit by floods in the country.
NIMASA, which is the apex maritime regulatory authority in the country recognised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said the donation of the relief materials were parts of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community relations.
It said the provisions of the relief items were meant to provide succour to those displaced by flood in the oil and gas rich state.
The relief materials provided by the agency, which also embarked on a similar venture in other flood ravaged states including Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Benue and Kogi States, include garri, rice, dry fish, yam, salt, maggi, pepper, vegetable oil, palm oil, indomie, sachet water and other consumables.
The items were procured in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt and loaded into three long trucks to the Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa.
Head of NIMASA team for the distribution of the relief items to Bayelsa State, Alhaji Mohammed Sani, told THISDAY that the procurement of the items were based on the needs of the flood victims after consultation with representatives of the state government and affected communities in the state.
Explaining the rationale for the consultation before procuring the relief materials, Sani who is a Director in NIMASA said: “The reason for consultation with the communities representatives before buying the items was to carry the people along in the exercise and to enable them decide their immediate needs within the budget of the agency, instead of giving them relief materials that may not meet their critical needs at the moment”.
Sani, an erstwhile Zonal Coordinator of NIMASA in the East with Headquarters in Port Harcourt, also disclosed the names of the local government areas that were given the relief materials. They are Yenagoa, Ekeremor, Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Ogbia and Southern Ijaw.
According to him, “the procurement of the relief items to flood victims in Bayelsa State was met with numerous challenges, ranging from purchase of the items, which was carried out in various markets in Port Harcourt, since flood had taken over most markets in Yenagoa, hiring of trucks at very high prices as means of conveyance to carry the items and loading all the items in various compartments/units inside the trucks to avoid any damage on the road.
“The most difficult obstacle during the exercise was accessing Bayelsa from Rivers State, due the ravaging flood, which covered the entire road, making movement of trucks almost impossible.
THISDAY checks revealed that transportation from Port Harcourt to Yenagoa, which takes less than two hours in a normal circumstance, took NIMASA officials more than two days in traffic inside the flood to arrive.
The agency also hired a big ware-house where the materials were stored temporarily before distribution, as the trucks could not arrive at the same time due to the flood.
It was gathered that another challenge that faced the agency was the market demand for the items due to the high rate of inflation in the area, which increased by over 200 per cent. For instance, a bag of garri in Port Harcourt goes for about N20,000 instead of N10,000 sold before the floods.
On why the agency decided to provide the relief materials, Sani, who has served in various capacities in the agency, said: “NIMASA is making its contributions towards bringing succour to the critically affected communities. Our strategy in giving the items to the victims, stem from the needs of the critically affected people as stated by representatives of the communities who met with us to discuss what their basic needs were.
“We allowed the people the opportunity to decide on their critical needs within our capacity, rather than giving them relief materials what will not meet their immediate needs. We are giving the materials to the councils identified as most critically affected and not all the local government areas in the state.
“We are making these contributions within our available scared resources. The assignment is a peculiar one and most challenging. This is because we had to purchase the items from Port Harcourt and transport them to Bayelsa State. We also purchased item like bags of garri and ferry them through Warri, Delta State to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State”, he added.