Natural disasters are occurrences that are beyond human control. Some of them include wild fire, earthquake, landslide, flood etc. Flood is one of the world’s most dangerous natural disasters, claiming more lives and causing more property damage than any other natural phenomenon. The devastating effects of flood could be heart breaking. Farmlands, food stuff, homes, property and human lives are casualties when there is a flood disaster.
In Nigeria, the 2012 floods which began in early July killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million others. It was the first major havoc wrecked by flood in a space of 40 years. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected by the 2012 floods while an estimated seven million people were affected by floods and put the losses caused by that year’s floods at N2.6 trillion.
In Nigeria, though not leading in terms of claiming lives, flood affects and displaces more people than any other disaster; it also causes more damage to properties. It also disrupts business activities in ravaged communities. Although, Uyo the capital of Akwa Ibom state has not experienced lethal floods as witnessed in other parts of the country in 2012, there are however reported cases of property damage in some areas within the metropolis. As a flat or low land, successive administrations in the state had sunk large chunks of their budgets into flood control measures. For instance, Obong Victor Attah did an underground tunnel from Ikpa Road through Udoete-Ikot Ekpene Road, Faith Road up to Nkemba Street and terminated at Olusegun Obasanjo Way (Abak Road). The Chief Godswill Akpabio administration was also famous for the Pipe Jacking system at Itam, which providentially saved the state from the 2012 floods that ravaged other states.
Today, Mr. Udom Emmanuel is the governor and he has toed the part of his predecessors in an attempt to tackle the menace of flood in the State capital. The challenge of flooding is a natural occurrence. In this clime however, it is counted among the failures of any sitting governor, whenever it occurs. Though not moved by such comments from a minute size of its population, the state government, out of passion and commitment to the primary task of securing life and property, is constructing a tunnel that will put an end to the menace of flooding along Oron Road, Edet Akpan Avenue all the way to Udo Udoma Avenue and the environs.
To tackle flooding in Uyo, the State government has earmarked N5,517,605,000 (Five Billion Five Hundred and Seventeen Million six Hundred and Five Thousand naira only) in the 2016 appropriation law for flood control through the construction of drains in Atan Offot behind the state Secretariat which will take care of floods by IBB Avenue and Atan Offot; Urua Ekpa Oron road; Akwa Efak up to the Tropicana along Udo Udoma Avenue.
The ranting of a few opponents of the administration on flooding notwithstanding, the huge investment in drainage construction by the government, essentially underscores the commitment of Mr. Udom Emmanuel to create an enabling environment that will stimulate growth and development, in addition to securing the lives and property of the citizenry.
There is no doubt that when work is completed on the new underground drainages, some of which have reached advanced stages, motorists and residents of Uyo will no longer experience flood as a result of heavy down pour. At least, Ikpa Road, Ikot Ekpene Road, Faith Road, etc no longer experience flood since the construction of underground drainages in those areas.
To effectively tackle the menace of flood, citizens should realize that they have a complementary role to play. It is common knowledge that city flooding is mostly caused by blockages occasioned by the reckless attitude of throwing household wastes into drainages. The people should realize that the gutter is not the right place to empty their waste materials. It is saddening that instead of walking few meters to government provided waste bins, many residents prefer to empty their wastes into the gutters. This unwholesome attitude amounts to being a cog in the wheel of progress and those involved should turn a new leaf to avoid putting government’s development gear in reverse.
To strengthen the capabilities of development minded governments like Akwa Ibom, the Federal Government should as a matter of urgent national interest release funds to states under the Ecological Fund. This will go a long way to aid Akwa Ibom tackle some natural disasters like flood, gully erosion and other menacing life-threatening ecological challenges.