The late commencement of the rains, the monsoon wind that usually brings heavy rain in the West African coast, and the rising sea levels due to the melting of glacier in the polar region will further increase floods in states like Lagos, Rivers and Cross River, among others, the Federal Government has said.
In the latest flood alert advice prepared by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the country, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, stated that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, a parastatal of the ministry, had earlier come out with the flood outlook for the country on June 13, 2017.
Adamu stated that the summary of the alert was that approximately 30 states and over 100 local government areas were categorised as high flood risk areas and therefore should expect flooding.
He said, “In the coastal areas, including Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar, possible coastal flooding in these places were mentioned in the NlHSA’s flood outlook. However, the case of Lagos State is unique, because it is very low-lying and there is reclamation of wetlands, which ordinarily should be buffers for floods.
“In addition, the rapid urbanisation of the Lagos coastal areas has not been matched with robust drainage provisions as well as adequate seawalls/barriers along the sea stretch.
“It is also important to mention that the monsoon wind (a strong prevailing wind that brings rain), which usually arrives the West African coast around June 22 to September/October, brings in a lot of rain to the land, coupled with the sea rise due to the melting of the glacier in the polar region.”
The minister added, “All these are definitely increasing the amount of water in the low-lying coastal areas of Lagos State. Worthy of note is the fact that the rains did not start early this year, thereby possibly causing long duration torrential downpour and causing unexpected urban/flash floods in areas with non-existing or inadequate drainage systems in the country.”
Adamu stated that urban/flash flood or overflow due to sustained rainfall in the urban cities or semi urban areas could be reduced with effective and adequate drainage systems.
He said, “People must not use this facility as refuse bins, which will block and render the facility useless with the probability of flooding heightened when it rains.
“Furthermore, people in the riverine areas must not erect residential structures on the flood plains as these areas are an extension of the river space. Unfortunately, people have refused to yield to advice.
“It is therefore suggested that state and local governments should do more to enforce environmental laws/town planning guidelines so as to check such uncontrolled physical development activities.”
The minister called for the construction of more reservoirs/dams to harness and harvest the excess water for various uses in agriculture, industry and power.
In the meantime, the Benue Government, said on Thursday it requires over N300 billion to dredge River Benue to mitigate the perennial flooding challenge in the state.
The State Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Terlumum Utsev, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Makurdi that preliminary study alone would cost N8 billion.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had listed six local government areas of the state among areas likely to be affected by flood in the country this year.
Utsev said that dredging the river would provide permanent solution to the recurring flood in the state.
“Benue Government is looking for ways in which River Benue can be dredged; this is because by dredging the river, majority of the water can be accommodated and thus, prevent future overflow.
“The ongoing research so far, shows that the preliminary study would cost about N8 billion while the main project would gulp about N300 billion.
“And this is where we need Federal Government financial intervention to execute the project, since the funds are much.”
He believed that the dredging of the river would also encourage economic activities which would be serviced by the Cargo Airport being constructed by the state government.
On NIMET’s prediction, the commissioner said the state had constituted a committee in collaboration with NEMA to determine exact areas likely to be affected and how government would intervene.
According to him, the state government has established shelters for likely victims of the flood and is enlightening the public on flood control measures.
No fewer than 4, 000 houses were submerged in 2012 due to flooding which also destroyed property worth billions of naira.
Record shows that Nigeria experienced its first flood disaster in the 1950s and the problem has persisted till date.
Experts have attributed the problem to human factors such as poor planning of urban areas and indiscriminate dumping of wastes in water channels.