Benue Hit by Ecological Problems, Says Ortom

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• FG’s emergency medical team reaches 700 households

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

Still baffled by the destruction caused by recent floods in Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom, has said 21 local government areas were facing ecological problems.

Ortom told the Minister of State for Environment, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril, who visited Makurdi yesterday to assess the damage caused by the floods.

He decried the devastation caused by floods in the state.

The governor said the heavy flooding caused other problems which included collapsed bridges, culverts, roads, destruction to farmlands and houses.

Ortom said the erosion sites were in Guma, Makurdi, Tarka, Gboko, Obi, Otukpo, Ukum, Kastina -Ala and others.

He said River Benue and River Kastina-Ala needed to be dredged as another major measure to control flood in the state.

“We are really handicapped with the situation. We need funds to build massive waters channels and big drains for uninterrupted water flow to River Benue.

He gave the assurance that the state would judiciously use any money given to it by the federal government to address the flood problem.

The governor directed those living in the waterways to relocate on or before the first quarter of 2018 or face eviction.

Earlier, in his address, the minister called for the implementation of town planning regulations across the country to mitigate flood disaster.

Jibril said town planning regulations needed to be fully implemented to address some ecological issues such as flood.

He said the regulations would prevent people from building on waterways and drains.

Jibril said the federal government would provide “emergency measures that would evacuate people easily and quickly during disasters.’’

According to him, it is not easy to completely relocate people from their ancestral homes.

“We may not be able to relocate people completely from flood-prone areas but we can provide basic emergency measures to assist victims during disasters,’’ the minister said.

He described the Benue flood incident as “an urgent national issue that needs to be addressed.’’

Jibril said that he was in the state on the president’s directive to inspect the challenges that lead to the flood disaster and report back to him.

Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, has expressed shock over the devastation of flood in Benue State, saying federal government has put measures in place to end the disaster in the state.

The minister who stated this after carrying out assessment of the affected places within Makurdi including Idye village, Achusa, North Bank and Wurukum areas of the state yesterday, said the federal government will continue to assist the state to go through the calamity while adding that  NEMA and SEMA had already provided relief materials to some of the victims.

In his remarks, the state Deputy  Governor, Mr. Benson Abounu, who conducted the minister round the affected areas, said the Samuel Ortom administration through SEMA has allocated the new international market Makurdi to serve as a temporary abode for the victims as well as relief material to cushion the effect of the displace.

He urged federal government to end the disaster by dredging  River Benue and commended federal government for its prompt action to tackle cases of flooding in the state even as he called on victims to be patient at the camp.