From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Flooding has wrecked havoc in parts of Lokoja, the Kogi State capital and other communities across nine local government areas along the riverine areas of the state rendering thousands of victims homeless.
The flooding also led to the collapse of three storey buildings in the the capital city.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Sanusi Yahaya who confirmed this in Lokoja on Thursday said that persistent heavy downpour of the past few days led to the flooding.
He also said that the water level in River Niger had been increasing on daily basis since the past two weeks, saying that the water had reached 9.48 metres by today.
The Commissioner said that houses along the bank of the river in Lokoja had been ravaged by flood and occupants evacuated to safety areas but said that no live was lost.
He said that three houses, including a two storey building had been submerged
in Lokoja while a bridge was also washed away in Igalamela/Odolu Local Government area.
” There is Likelihood of flood occurrence in some parts of the state. The flood prediction is coming to pass,” he said while addressing a stakeholders meeting.
The commissioner therefore directed those living along river bank and flood paths to relocate immediately to avoid being washed away .
He called on the stakeholders , including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Red Cross, Navy, civil defence, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) among others to brace up and join hands with the state government to confront the disaster.
According to him, what the stakeholders need to do urgently is to revive strategies deployed in 2018 and improvement in some areas as there is no more time to waste.
Mr Bitrus Samuel, Head, Abuja Operation Office of NEMA, said that the meeting was called to appraise the level of preparedness and early response strategies put in place by stakeholders.
He said that the rising trend of level of water in River Niger and prolonged heavy rainfall had made flooding inevitable , saying that all hands must be on deck to confront it.
Bitrus who was represented by Mr Shola Babatunde, Assistant Head, NEMA, Abuja Operation Office, called for a well articulated programme to educate and sensitise members of the public.
He said that this was necessary to reduce the disaster impact, especially the magnitude of human and economic losses.
” It is sensible to be proactive based on past experiences to take great steps in manning and preparing to respond to them in a coordinated and integrated manner,” Samuel said.
The Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Julius Mejiyan, in his address said that staff of the agency were on ground and ready to be deployed.
He said that SEMA was in need of inputs and support from relevant stakeholders to successfully manage the flood disaster but lamented the lack of essential materials and equipment by the agency.