Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa
Hundreds of residents have fled their homes and communities as the flooding intensified in most parts of Bayelsa, including the state capital, Yenagoa. Many of the residents, who have lost their homes and properties to the surging flood lamented that government’s failure to clear the canals and drainages worsened the situation in most parts of the state capital.
Many others who home have been sacked blamed the state government for not taking quick proactive measures since the warning of the flood from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), who produces the seasonal climate prediction (SCP) annually in fulfilment of its statutory responsibility to advise the government.
Most of the canals and drainages in the state capital are still blocked as of the time of this report without any plan by the government to clear them.
It was only last week that the state government set up a Task Force to mitigate the flooding which has already devastated many communities and neighbouring states.
As of the time of filling this report most homes and communities in the state capital and neighbouring towns and villages are presently under siege as the flooding intensified in the in the past one week.
Hundreds of residents have left their homes and communities for safer abode as the flooding continue to grow everyday, while those who have no relatives to stay in non-flooded areas have left the state.
A police man, who was alleged to have borrowed money from a bank to buy land and build a two bedroom apartment in Ogbogoro community in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, has lost his entire building to the flood.
Sergeant Samson Akpolobode, who narrated his ordeal to our correspondent said he is yet to complete the payment of the loan before the small self-contain bungalow was swallowed by erosion.
Sergeant Samson, who is now homeless, said his wife and five children have relocated to stay with relatives in his village in Agiama, Sagbama Local Government Area of the state, while he has since went back to Ogun State, where he is presently serving the country.
The police sergeant, who many of his neighbours and colleagues see as a respectable policeman and a faithful Christian, called on the state and federal government to come to the rescue of his family.
However, responding to the emergency, the State Task Force on Flood Mitigation and Management, at the weekend, visited some affected communities for an on-the-spot assessment..
Communities visited in Yenagoa and Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Areas included; Tombia-Ekpetiama, Odi, Sampou, Kaiama, Gbaranma Sabagreia, Okoloba, Biseni and neighbouring communities as well as some areas within the Yenagoa metropolis.
Speaking after the exercise, the Commissioner for Environment and Chairman of the Task Force, Iselema Gbaranbiri, lamented the impact of the flooding in Biseni community, which he said was almost totally submerged.
Gbaranbiri sympathised with people of the area on behalf of the Governor, who he said was passionate about their wellbeing hence the setting up of the task force on flood mitigation on Wednesday during the state executive council meeting.
On the situation in parts of Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA such as Odi and Sampou, Gbaranbiri said both communities were relatively safe at the moment due to the water barrier built by the government while areas like Gbarama, Sabagreia, Okoloba and Kaiama were heavily impacted with institutions such as the Ijaw National Academy, the Girls Secondary School in Kaiama and the Bayelsa State Sports Institute at Asoama flooded.
The Environment Commissioner explained that the essence of the on-the-spot assessment was to get first-hand information about the situation and identify areas of need for government to provide succour to the people.
While calling on the federal government to assist the state government in alleviating the sufferings of victims, he stated that other local governments areas will be visited and that succour would be provided for those affected in form of building of higher grounds, provision of relief materials and medicals.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Moses Teibowei, said the concrete water barrier built in three communities was a pilot project based on the advice of his ministry.
He noted that the trial water barrier has proved to be effective so far, saying government was still monitoring its effectiveness.
He assured all that a decision will be taken by the government to replicate them in other communities and possibly improve on them.
Teibowei stated that the state government also implemented a home-grown technology in parts of Yenagoa such as the Epie creek in Okutukutu area, which has prevented the area and parts of Opolo from being flooding so far.
He said a similar measure will be replicated around down Yenagoa, Obele, the Law School at Agudama and other parts of Yenagoa.
He expressed optimism that by the time the home-grown technology, which has been implemented in parts of Yenagoa metropolis, was fully implemented, the issue of flooding will be mitigated in the state.
Also, the Director of Operations, Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA), Mr. Ayii Aziowei, sympathsed with those affected, stating that the government would do its best to provide relief for victims.