The authorities could improve on measures to prevent flooding

In the last one month torrential rains have wreaked serious havoc on lives and property in several parts of the country. But nowhere has the impact been as much as Ibadan, Oyo State capital, where no fewer than 300 houses were recently submerged, according to the National Emer­gency Management Agency (NEMA). But to the extent that it is a national problem, government at all levels must come together for lasting solutions.

From Lagos to Nasarawa, Kebbi, to Warri, the resultant floods which accompany annual rainfall have continued to destroy homes and valuable property. As a result of this development, thousands of Nigerians are now being rendered homeless, many roads are becoming impassable and lives are being lost. Yet our worry stems from the fact that as bad as the situation may seem today, the worst is not over.

Elementary science teaches that as global temperatures rise, the oceans get warmer. And when water heats up, it expands leading to rise in sea levels as we have been witnessing in several countries in recent times. It is therefore no surprise that in several coastal cities across the world today, climate change is creating a situation where too much water comes at an unexpected time, or in unexpected places and causing serious problem.

However, in our country, flooding cannot be solely explained by the factor of nature. The habit of the people indeed plays a crucial role in what has been happening over the years anytime it rains. In several states across the country, most of the drains are blocked due to the indiscriminate dumping on the roads and drainages disposable empty cans and water nylons, among others. This dirty attitude quite naturally leads to blockages of canals and man-holes resulting in the type of floods that occur regularly. There were also several buildings that have been erected on drainage channels. This ugly trend must stop while the authorities in many of the 36 states should ensure that all those buildings are pulled down for free flow of water.

It is noteworthy that floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss and they have caused untold damage in the last couple of years, especially with prolonged rainfall over several days. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens who were rendered homeless in recent years as a result of flooding are still in internally displaced peoples (IDPs) camps.

There are, however, precautionary measures usually taken in times like this which we have repeatedly prescribed on this page and which we repeat for those for whom it is not too late. For the safety of their families and other tenants, landlords should have the roofs and the walls of their houses checked by professional builders for possible structural or age-induced weaknesses that may increase the vulnerability of such structures during the rains. We also enjoin that blocked drains, especially in areas where flood waters easily accumulate and generate a strong force, should be cleared and subsequently kept free. It is a shame that Nigerians continue to die every year as a result of floods that could be prevented.

We must commend the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) that has, through its seasonal rainfall prediction and periodic statements, give warnings on areas of possible flooding and violent thunderstorm during every rainy season. Unfortunately, most of the warnings are hardly ever heeded. Yet the focus should at all times be on prevention and pre-emptive intervention, because little is gained when resources that should be put into developmental initiatives are dissipated in dealing with avoidable emergencies and calamities.