Story by CrossRiverWatch admin
By Dianabasi Effiong
Residents of some communities in Cross River have been expressing concern over recurrent flood disasters in their neighbourhoods during rainy seasons.
The residents’ apprehension is certainly justifiable, as a downpour, which started on July 4 lasted for four days and triggered a massive flood that submerged houses and farmlands along the bank of Afi River.
Concerned citizens noted that rivers such as Biase, Obubra, Ikom, Boki, Ogoja, Obudu and Obanliku usually overflow their banks during the rains, resulting in the flooding of several parts of the state.
Mr. Nnandi Peter Bette, the Education Secretary in Boki Local Government Council, said that the recent overflow of Afi River particularly affected Nkuande-Nde, Bendeghe Afi, Opu, Balep, Ngbaka, Nkpiri, Nkura Nfam, Ejurawor and 11 other villages of Nde Ekamtonofo on the west bank of the river.
Besides, Mrs. Evelyn Abang, a trader, said that the bridges and culverts linking Buanchor and Katabang community were submerged by the flood.
She appeals to the Cross River State Government and the state Emergency Management Agency to come to the aid of the victims of the flood.
Mr. David Akate, the spokesman for the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, concedes that the flood affected six villages, where more than 1,000 residents have been rendered homeless.
The pathetic situation is a major blow on the economy of the state as tourism is one of the major revenue earners for the state.
For instance, tourists to the Buanchor Canopy Walkway and the Drill Ranch were either trapped or prevented from gaining access to the area, which is located in Boki forest.
More than eight culverts and two bridges were completely submerged in the area, making the only accessible earth road impassable, while no fewer than 20 houses were destroyed in Boje, the headquarters of Boki Local Government Area,’’ he said.
Mr Vincent Aquah, the Director-General of the state Emergency Management Agency, recalls that in 2011, goods worth over N90 million were destroyed by floods across the state.
He stresses that over 40 houses in Calabar and its environs were affected by the flood, which also displaced no fewer than 500 persons while submerging about 1,060 farms.
Aquah calls on the Federal Government, individuals and philanthropic organisations to come to the aid of the state government in efforts to rehabilitate the displaced persons.
He, however, pledges that urgent measures will be adopted to forestall the recurrence of the flood disasters, stressing that all stakeholders will be engaged in efforts to stamp out flooding in the state.
However, Chief Daniel Bibang, the traditional ruler of Buanchor, insists that there is an imperative need to tackle the menace of floods in the state, while rendering assistance to villages which could no longer be accessed because of the floodwaters.
Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Tony Ngban, the Chairman of Ikom Local Government Council, appeals to state government to intervene in the matter and provide succour for the victims.
My appeal is prompted by the horrible ordeal that residents have experienced over the years because of the condition of the roads and the drainage system.
We have put in a lot of efforts and resources to bring about remedial measures; due to the gravity of the erosion, however, the problem has remained unsolved.
Whenever there is a downpour, the resultant flood destroys a wide range of household appliances and electronic devices, including cars and domestic animals, in many parts of the neighbourhood, while our children are forced to remain at home for lack of access to their schools.
We have, on several occasions, cried out when we found ourselves in a helpless situation; we are therefore, passionately appealing to our governor, Sen. Liyel Imoke, to come to our aid,’’ he says.
All the same, Dr Imo Ekpoh of the Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Calabar, stresses the need to embark on an aggressive public awareness campaign to educate the citizens on how to curb flood and its attendant disasters.
He underscores the need for the coastal communities and towns, in particular, to re-design their drains and drainage systems to enable them to cope with the high volume of water during rainfall.
Reacting to the flood disasters, Gov. Imoke says that his administration has put some measures in place to stimulate quick intervention, in concert with relevant rescue agencies, in the event of flood.
Moreover, he says that the state government has provided relief materials, including mattresses, rice, blankets, cement, building materials and buckets, for the victims of the flood disasters.
Imoke, nonetheless, pledges that the government will promote and sustain standard environmental practices so as to reduce the menace of environmental disasters.
However, flood disasters are certainly a countrywide phenomenon, compelling concerned observers to urge the Federal Government to initiate pragmatic strategies to tackle the menace
For instance, Mr Ewah Eleri, the Executive Director of International Centre for Energy and Environmental Development (ICEED), recalls that in 2011 alone, Nigeria lost assets worth N300 billion to flood disasters across the country.
As part of efforts to tackle the menace, Eleri advises President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the National Climate Change Commission Bill into law, adding that the legislation will address some of the environmental hazards caused by climate change, including flooding.
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