In Ondo State, flood has become a recurring decimal during every rain season across the three senatorial districts, causing untold pains and associated hardship to the victims. HAKEEM GBADAMOSI examines the incidents.
The last week downpour, which ravaged some areas in Ikare Akoko in Akoko North West Local Government Area will remain green in the memory of the people of the community, especially those who lost their homes.
The rainstorm, which descended on Monday, 25th of June, destroyed valuables worth millions of Naira and displaced many house owners with a threat to evict the whole community.
ALSO READ: New minimum wage: We’ll increase workers’ salaries at all levels ― FG
Nigerian Tribune gathered that Jubilee road is the major road in the community, and always impassable for motorists as well as individuals during rainfall.
The Caretaker Chairman of Akoko North West Local Government, Hon. Rafiu Eniayewu, commended Ondo State Government of Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, for bringing respite to the long suffering of the people in the community. adding that the channelization of the river would solve flooding in the area.
This flood is not limited to Ikare Akoko. Many residents of the Ondo South Senatorial District, especially the residents of Igbokoda also always experience flooding at every rainy season. This, it was learnt, was one of the of the reasons the state government embarked on some measures to control the incident.
The people of the state capital, Akure have also had their share of the loss before the immediate past government intervened and reduced flooding.
But some residents still have tales of woes to tell about the havoc of flooding in their areas.
A resident of Ijoka in Akure, Adeyemi Oluwasuyi said, though flooding had reduced in the town to its minimal, the recent downpour has caused havoc, destroying property and rendering thousands homeless. Streams and waterways, which had been channelized before the rainy season started, were blocked.
At Igbokoda in Ilaje Local Government Area, the frequent rainfall has adversely affected most parts of the town and socio-economic activities.
A resident, Mr Shadrack Monehin lamented that most fish ponds were washed into the ocean.
Monehin recalled the state government’s past efforts to stop the nightmarish experience. The measure, he stated, included the dredging of the Igbokoda waterways that led to the fishery terminal and channelization of the tributary of Ofara River passing through Ominira to Ilara area into the coast of the Oluwa River.
He identified indiscriminate dumping of wastes as hindrance to free flow of water. Also he linked the problem to violation of extant town planning laws which hitherto permit not less than 15 metres set back from the bank of the river before commencement of development.
Monehin also recalled the state government’s N2 billion budget to ameliorate the suffering of the communities confronted with ecological challenges which included, Igbokoda, Ondo, Ile Oluji, Akure and some other places. “Unfortunately, this has failed to see the light of the day,” he said.
The experience of the residents of Omotosho community in Okitipupa Local Government Area left them in total darkness because the rainstorm uprooted many electricity poles in the agrarian community.
Alhaji Kareem Anifowose, a resident of Davog stretch along Ijoka, agonised the deplorable state of the internal roads which had been eroded by the flow of water, noting that most houses in the area failed to construct proper drainage.
“Many houses have been eroded by the flow of water that is not properly channelled due the lack of constructed drainages. This destroyed houses, fences during heavy rains. Most of the residents do not cooperate in this regard. I think that it is high time that the town planning enforced the construction of gutters by each house,” he said.
A resident of Gaga area of Akure, Foluso Akintemi said rainstorms and flooding in recent times had demolished no fewer than 60 houses and properties worth millions of naira in the state.
Appealing to the state government, the head of Gaga community, Oluwole Omotosho urged the government and other relevant agencies to assist the community with relief materials to alleviate their suffering.
The residents of the various areas and victims affected by the rainstorm also urged the state government, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other stakeholders to assist them.
He added that the state government had commenced the channelization of streams and water channels.
He said the excavation team of the Ondo State Ministry of Environment were dispatched to Owo local government area of the state in order to curb flood and erosion challenges.
The Director of Ecology, Olumide Kinga said that the ministry had started work on the stream in the Asewa quarters of the Owo LGA.
According to him, the team had to channel the stream and clear the blocked ways that had made the stream to be flood prone in order to bring relief to flood victims in the area.
He disclosed that some men had been employed to keep the waterways free and remove debris and blockages from waterways manually while the ministry had commissioned some engineers and expert to embark on preliminary survey to address erosion challenges in some erosion prone areas.
According to him, the ministry had met with various stakeholders and held seminars to change people’s orientation in this aspect and have also mounted campaign against indiscriminate waste disposal.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Funsho Esan, has called on the people of the state to join the state government campaign in enforcing environmental laws while residents of the states are advised to show respect to physical planning law to avoid flooding in the state.
Esan noted that the state had shown no respect for the physical planning law of the state as they built indiscriminately on waterways but said government would not hesitate to pull down any structure that is discovered to be obstructing free flow of water in the various rivers across the state and warned people to desist from building on water channels.
He said: “It is unfortunate that our people have refused to show respect for the physical planning law and we have instructed our operators carrying out the dredging of the rivers that anywhere we find the blockade over the river we will pull down without any sentiment.”
“But in some areas that are indigenous and traditional where there was not much physical planning when people started building. We will do as much as we can to ensure that we allow the river to have its free flow without too much collateral damage to such structures where we can afford it, but where we will need to pull down structures for the majority of the people live in peace, we will not hesitate to do that”.