…Victims seek govt assistance, relief materials.
…Call for construction of foreshore walls for protection.
About sixteen communities in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State are currently enmeshed in water following the flood that hit the area recently, The flood, The New Diplomat learnt, was caused by recent heavy rains which led to the overflow of the River Forcados to its tributaries.
This is coming on the heels of a recent claim by the Delta State government that it is committed to the development of the riverine communities of the State. However, a source told The New Diplomat that most of the communities are affected yearly due to lack of foreshore walls to protect them from the ravaging flood.
Communities mostly affected include Ofrukama, Gbaregolor, Orere, Arhavwarien, Iwhre Okpe, Ogoda, Oluta, Omosumor, Assah, Omafuvwe, Edjekwo, Ikameta, Ususrhie and Otor Ewu – all in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the State.
Our correspondent, who visited the flooded community recently, after the alert was raised by concerned Deltans, reports that the indigenes are currently going through hell as more than three thousand houses in the affected communities are submerged in water with its attendant destruction of buildings, property, schools and farmlands.
Movement between families and buildings in the Community, The New Diplomat learnt, is now by dug-out wooden canoes just as women, children and other vulnerable persons are currently exposed to water-borne diseases, lack of food and potable water as the flood increases by the day.
Fielding questions with newsmen on the situation, the Community President-General of Ofrukama, one of the worst-hit communities, Comrade. Obukoadeta Daniel Erhuvwu, called on both the state and the federal government to come to their aid in form of supply of relief materials, stressing that in a very short time, the affected communities will be faced with hunger as their sources of livelihood have been damaged. He also stressed on the need for the provision of an internally-displaced persons camp for the area, adding that most of their homes have been washed away by the ravaging flood.
“The government, both federal and state, should come to our aid. Very soon we shall run out of food supplies and we shall be facing hunger, sickness and possibly, death. We are not happy. We feel we are not part of Nigeria.
“We have reached out to our representative in the House of Rep, Hon. Francis Ejiroghene Waive. Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is there, even the Delta State governor, they need to do something.
“They should come to our aid to do one or two things to assist the communities. As of now, there are no IDP camps for our people who have been displaced by the ravaging flood. So, we are locked in our flooded homes, praying that the level of water does not exceed what it was last year. You can see that we are pulling canoes between our houses. We are suffering”, he said.
Speaking exclusively with The New Diplomat, a community leader from Iwhre Okpe, Comrade Williams Ode, lamented that up till now, neither the federal nor the state government has shown concern about the plight of the people.
According to him, while the people, at this critical moment, need relief materials including food and water for survival, the permanent solution to check the perennial flooding in the affected communities is to construct foreshore walls to protect them from flood encroachment.
“The people of the various communities are suffering. Nothing has happened yet from the government. I have gotten in touch with Hon. Francis Waive over the issue, but he is yet to respond to me, although a source from his office confirmed he is already liaising with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, for intervention, possibly with inspection and provision of relief materials to the affected communities.
“The main cause of the flooding is the overflow of water from the River Forcados which flows through to Ogulaha. When the water from the River swells due to increase in volume of water from River Niger, it runs through and encroaches into different communities, causing heavy flooding in its trail.
“The permanent solution required to prevent the perennial flooding is to construct shoreline protection in each of the affected communities so that water cannot gain access into them,” he noted.
All efforts to get the State Commissioner of Environment, Hon. Chris Onogba, to comment on behalf of the State government has so far yielded no positive result as he neither responded to our messages nor pick calls put across to him.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, had said that the state government had restored peace in riverine areas of the state with impactful projects.
Aniagwu, who stated this on a government-sponsored town-hall meeting held in Asaba and aired on TVC recently, disclosed that the government has taken development to the creeks of the riverine areas of the State, adding that areas which were hitherto inaccessible have now been opened up with infrastructural development.
“There are fears that if such funds are put in those projects they will not be visible to the public. But the Okowa led administration has been able to put in a whole lot of resources to build roads in the difficult terrains of the state.
“In summary, the creeks needed development, they didn’t have roads in the creeks even for motorcycles. They didn’t have water, functional hospitals in the creeks, they didn’t have a functional educational system in the creeks and what did he do, he now said we will provide these.
“If you go to Burutu we were able to give them good schools, we paved all the roads in Burutu town. He (the governor) moved ahead to provide hospitals and when the people started seeing these things, they gave peace a chance”, he said.
It would be recalled, however, that the Delta State government last year, vowed never to spend its funds for the provision of camps for flood-induced internally displaced persons, arguing that over the years the government had embarked on construction of temporary camps and provision of relief materials, food and other conveniences, and that the real affected persons have refused to relocate from their flooded communities. They prefer to come to the camps, collect materials and food and go back to their homes.