Abuja’s perennial flood of tears and pains
In the last few weeks, residents of the FCT have had to battle with torrential rainfall that has threatened to sack some communities, and left many to question the credibility of the town planning arrangement of Abuja.
The recent flood in Abuja has left tears in its wake, especially around the Lokogoma axis where lives have been lost in the past three years to ravaging floods.
For instance, three members of the Nwaogu family drown in a flash flood that swept through the Galadimawa-Lokogoma axis in August 2017. Late Keneth Nwaogu lost his life along those of his two children when the family’s SUV was over powered by ragging flood.
Only last month, a 17year old boy was said to have died in a flood that submerged parts of EFAB Estate at Lokogoma. The teenager identified as Tuesday Bala, was trapped in a house that was totally submerged by flood. Though the FCT Emergency Management Agency denied knowledge of the death, residents of the area insist the police recovered Bala’s body and took it to the Federal Staff Medical Centre in Jabi.
Earlier this month, a Director of Finance at the FCT High Court, Mr. Tony Okecheme was also swept away by heavy flood while on his way to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport. Men of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, recovered the Toyota Camry he was driven in, with no traces of the Director.
The Federal Capital Development Authority which investigated the flooding discovered that it was caused by the erection of structures on the waterways by estate developers.
The downpour this year have been particularly heavy, with the rain starting as early as 6:00 am and last for several hours forcing many traders and government workers to stay indoor as vehicular and human movement are grounded to a halt, making many major roads impassable, wreaking havoc on some parts of the city, flooding many homes and offices in the nation's capital.
Just recently, many houses were submerged at EFAB Estate Lokogoma, rendering many residents stranded and homeless. Also, many houses were said to have been washed away at Lungi Army Barracks.
Pictures and videos later appeared online showing dramatic and even strange scenes of flooding in the city.
For example the road from the expressway linking Aso Drive, Department of State Services headquarters and back gate to the Presidential Villa was flooded, road users coming from Kubwa end were forced to make a diversion and take alternative routes, not forgetting the Nigeran Army Resource Centre end of the Abuja-Zuba Expressway was flooded, with several vehicles stuck in the water.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, recently warned that the flooding being experienced in Abuja and other parts of the country are early signs of the severe flood to be expected in the coming weeks.
Director-General of NIHSA, Mr. Clement Nze, said Nigeria will be affected by both river and urban flooding as floods from the upper reaches of the eight countries that comprises the Niger basin.
Similarly, the FCT Emergency Management Agency informed residents of Kubwa, Gwagwa-Karimo, Kuje, Airport Road and Gwagwalada about possible flooding, the perennial flooding in Abuja appears unavoidable.
The Director-General of FEMA, Abbas Idriss, in a statement in Abuja, said that torrential rainfall had increased the water level at the Usuma Dam and spilled into the Usuma River channel.
It stated, “People along the Usuma Dam channel will experience an increase in the volume of water along the river channels.
“Areas to be affected are Kubwa, Gwagwa-Karimo, Kuje, Airport Road, Gwagwalada, among others.
“The situation is scary; FEMA is advising residents of the listed settlements to be wary of possible flooding.”
The agency admonished residents to observe simple precautions “because not all floods are alike.
FEMA added, “Some develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a minute and without any visible signs of rain.”
Idriss, therefore, enjoined communities to listen to the radio or television for information concerning the flood situation.
He also urged the residents of Kubwa and Kuje to be aware of streams, drainage channels, and other areas prone to sudden floods.
The director-general also cautioned residents against walking or driving through moving water.
Concerned by the impending flooding, the FCTA recently demolished scores of buildings in Lokogoma District. The exercise affected some residential estates following the threats of more flooding in the area which has claimed about four lives and destroyed many properties in the past two years.
It is clear that the FCT administration needs to take measures to cope with flooding which will require both local and international interventions. Just like the early warning and rapid response systems, flood data gathering and modelling, proper urban and spatial planning, flood emergency preparedness and political will.
METRO spoke with Mr Sule a resident of Arab road in Kubwa who urged the FCT administration to ensure that drainages are cleaned out during the dry season and proper monitoring of waste disposal in the area.
According to him, the popular Kubwa market does not have an organised waste disposal system and some residents throw their waste in gutters and water ways.
He however added that resident education must include manual door to door campaign because some persons do not listen to radio neither do they watch the television and they might never come across the information to prevent flooding in their environs.
Also speaking with METRO on the issue, a resident of Apo who simply gave her name as Mama Zara, said that government must introduce a sustainable flood management method so that the FCT is able to weather the storm of flooding even before it occurs.
“This is the nation’s capital and we have come of age to have a sustainable flood management method. I hope we do not wake up one day to a watery bed because of negligence. We have seen and heard about the flood and I expect that by now after to 2012 experience Nigeria as a whole should be able to manage and control flooding.
“I am particularly concerned about those living in the low-lying areas that are particularly at risk of flooding, and their situation is complicated by buildings which are constructed on water ways, and bad waste dumping habits which block the drains.
“I urge the FCT administration to tackle the issue of flooding and keep its resident safe,’’ she said.
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