Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, says there is no immediate threat of flooding, calling on the government at all levels to put measures in place to prevent flood emergencies.
Utsev told newsmen in Abuja on Friday, August 25, 2023, that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had observed an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97 meters today.
This, he said, was insignificant, as compared to a flow level of 8.80 meters on the same date in 2022.
According to him, reports from inland dams including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro also showed a consistent flow regime.
“In Lokoja, the heightened flow volume along the River Benue system, the flow situation at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi State, remains within normal parameters.
“The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.80 meters today, compared to 8.24 meters on the same date in 2022.
“As at today, there is no threat to lives and properties, especially those states that are contiguous to Rivers Niger and Benue.”
The minister called on all tiers of government to ensure preparedness and deploy appropriate measures to minimise the potential impact of flooding during the peak of the rainy season.
He called on states to increase sensitisation on the need for people living along the river banks to relocate to higher grounds during the peak period of rainfall.
“States and Local Governments should intensify efforts in clearing blocked drainages and also construct new ones where they do not exist.
“Removal of illegal structures constructed within the floodplains, the general public, especially road users, should desist from walking or driving through any pool of water or flood”.
The minister said it was important to acknowledge the period of heavy rainfall, flooding, and flood-related disasters that typically occured during July, August, September, and October.
According to him, Dam water releases are integral to safeguarding dam integrity and mitigating flooding in adjacent communities.
The 2023 Annual Flood Outlook showed that 178 LGAs in 32 states of the Federation, and the FCT, fall within the Highly Probable Flood Risk Areas. However, 224 LGAs in 35 States of the Federation, including the FCT fall within the Moderately Probable Flood Risk Areas.
In a related development, the Nasarawa State Government has said it will demolish structures built on water ways as part of measures to prevent flooding.
Mr Yakubu Kwanta, the State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, made the disclosure while briefing newsmen on Saturday in Lafia, the state capital, after the August environmental sanitation exercise.
The commissioner, who was represented by Malam Abubakar Mohammed, Chief Environment Officer, who is also the Chief Prosecutor of the ministry, said the ministry would be proactive to prevent any disaster.
He explained that the decision to demolish the structures followed NiMet’s recent prediction of possible flooding in 25 states including Nasarawa State.
He said the government had directed residents of flood prone areas to relocate to safer grounds.
According to him, given the way flood had ravaged some parts of the state in the recent past, the ministry would not allow anybody to block the water ways.
“When you block the water ways and prevent water against free flow, you are inviting disaster, because any how it will find its way,” he said.
On the level of compliance with the monthly exercise, the commissioner expressed satisfaction and lauded traditional rulers, chairmen of area councils as well as the security agencies for the success of the exercise.
He said that about the 85 per cent of the residents complied by locking their shops and businesses to partake in the exercise.
The commissioner said the state was temporarily shutdown during the exercise in line with the law, except those on essential services.
“We only allowed those with permission from relevant authorities and those on essential services to pass, and move around during the exercise,” he added.
He therefore, called on members of the public to always keep their environment clean to guard against outbreak of diseases.
Meanwhile, 86 persons suspected to have violated environmental sanitation laws across the state were arrested and prosecuted by various mobile courts in the respective LGAs.
By Tosin Kolade and Sunday John