Our Reporter 25/09/2012 00:00:00
* More communities affected
* Sacks 4 schools, 350 families in Bayelsa
The Nigeria Red Cross Society yesterday said that it had recovered five bodies of victims of the flood disaster that ravaged Lokoja, Kogi State.
The bodies washed ashore River Niger include those of two men, swept away on Saturday night by the raging flood at Ajaokuta Local Government Area of the state, bringing the number of deaths so far recorded to 11.
The Kogi branch Chairman of the society, Mr. Mustafa Allah-Dey, who confirmed the development to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja, said the bodies were found late Sunday evening.
He said that all the corpses were male adults and the areas from which they had been swept away had not been ascertained.
The Red Cross boss added that local fishermen discovered the bodies and alerted emergency workers.
Allah-Dey said the first three corpses might not be from Kogi State, stressing that they were likely to be among the passengers in a canoe that capsized in a community in Niger State two days ago.
He said that the five bodies had since been buried.
The chairman noted that the flood was still ravaging some parts of the state, describing the situation in Ibaji and Idah as precarious.
Allah-Dey said that the situation had forced the National Inland Waterways Authority to release five additional boats for the rescue operations in Ibaji, where hundreds of people were endangered.
He added that the boats, in addition to the three released on Sunday by the organisation, had been deployed to Ibaji, Idah and other flood ravaged communities to rescue the victims.
Allah-Dey said some of the victims, who had taken refuge on treetops since Saturday, had been rescued and relocated to the four camps in Idah.
The state Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Mohammed Garba, said that movement of vehicles was yet to be allowed on the Lokoja-Abuja road.
“The water level is rising, so, no movement for now. What we saw yesterday is not what we are seeing today. No movement is possible on the road now,” Garba said.
He added that the FRSC had no idea of when the road would be officially reopened to traffic, and urged motorists to use alternative routes.
Some motorists have been struggling to find their way through the road, in spite of the FRSC’s warning to stay off the road.
A NAN correspondent, who visited Natako junction in Lokoja, observed that passengers simply took commercial motorcycles from the junction to Ukomi community, one of the areas where the water had flooded the road.
At Ukomi, youths were making brisk businesses out of the situation by ferrying passengers by canoe to Banda charging NI00 per passenger.
At Banda area, the youths ferried passengers across at N200 per person to Jamata, where they finally board vehicles going to Abuja, Kaduna, Zaria and other parts of the North.
But the FRSC said it had worked out alternative routes to and from Abuja to lessen the agony of motorists.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Deputy Corps Public Education Officer, Mr. Bisi Kazeem, urged motorists travelling from Lagos and wishing to use Okene-Lokoja-Abuja route to divert to Okene-Ajaokuta- Ayangba-Ankpa-Makurdi Lafia-Akwanga-Abuja route.
Those coming from the South-East should use Otukpa-Makurdi route and those driving from Abuja to Lokoja were advised to ply Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi- Ankpa-Okene route.
He said the commission had also deployed more personnel on the routes to forestall gridlocks.
The recent overflow of the River Benue has also blocked parts of the Makurdi- Gboko Highway, especially from Tyo-mu end, about 13 kilometres from Makurdi.
A visit to some scenes of the flood revealed that more than half of the road had been submerged, forcing many motorists to avoid the road.
Apart from Gwer East, Gwer West, Makurdi and Guma, the road is the gateway to the remaining 19 local government area councils of the state.
The road also connects Benue with Taraba and Cross River states.
Vehicles travelling to Gboko and the other parts of Tiv land, now go through Aliade, about twice the distance from Makurdi to Gboko.
An unusual traffic density on the Aliade road, which also connects the state with Kogi and the East and South Western parts of the country was also observed.
Flood has also ravaged Bayelsa State, sacked four schools and displaced more than 350 families in Sagbama and Tungbo, both in Sagbama Local Government Area.
The NAN correspondent, who was taken round the premises of the schools in a canoe, reported that the water level was more than 1.5 metres high.
The guide, who took the correspondent round the premises, Mr. Ogbo Akpoeyi, said no fewer than 300 families were displaced by the flood in Sagbama, adding that such flood was last experienced in 1999.
Akpoeyi called on the company handling the Sagbama/Ekeremor Road to construct more water outlets to reduce the flood water that had almost submerged Sagbama.
He also called on the various tiers of government to come to the aid of the community, saying, “We need permanent solution to this perennial problem.”
Also sacked by the flood were a bakery and a private school, Agua Memorial Nursery/Primary School at Obuware in Sagbama.
The owner of the bakery, Mrs. Nurse Adonkie, whose residence was also affected, said that the flood had destroyed flour mixers and other equipment in the bakery.
The Chairman of Sagbama Local Government, Mr. Tony Ogullah, said he would conduct an assessment tour of the LGA to get statistics of flood-affected communities for possible distribution of relief materials.
Ogullah said that the council would write to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and other relevant authorities for aid “because the situation is beyond the council.”
At Tungbo, where about 50 families were displaced, the people had begun to relocate to the homes of relations and friends not yet affected by the flood.
Several communities on the banks of the River Nun and River Forcados are under threat by the ravaging flood, which has kept surging every day.
Locals also said that the first time a flood of such magnitude was recorded in the area was in 1969 during the civil war.
In Edo State, Governor Adams Oshiomhole ordered the immediate release of N100m to provide relief materials for victims of flood-ravaged communities in Etsako Central, Etsako East and Esan South- East Local Government Areas of the state.
He also said that government would find a longterm solution to avoid a reoccurrence.
Oshiomhole added that he would liaise with the Federal Government for relief materials for the displaced persons.
The governor said that the disaster caused by the overflow of the River Niger had led to the loss of property worth billions of naira in the state.
“What has happened is an act of God and no one can challenge the will of God.
“In other parts of the country, we have heard of loss of lives, but so far we have not recorded any death here.
“Let us pray that the river goes back to its boundary.
“As a government, we will try as much as possible to reduce the hardship suffered by the people by providing relief materials.
“What we cannot change, we will bear. President Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Government are concerned about this calamity.”
The ravaging flood, which has taken over about 20 communities with a combined population of over 500,000 people, destroyed buildings, household materials and food crops in the affected communities.
At the Ekperi Grammar School, Ugbekpe-Ekperi, there were over 60, 000 refugees from Yuluwa village, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Iguzi- Ofukpe, Udaba, Unudoboh, Udaba-Ogho and Anegette, all in Etsako Central.
The palace of the Daudu of Usumegbe, Chief John Musa, and that of the Village Head of Udaba, Chief David Inetape, are among the buildings that have been submerged.
In Agenebode, the headquarters of Etsako East Local Government Area, the surrounding villages have also been taken over by flood, while Ilushi, Urho, Urhowa and Inyelen in Esan South-East Local Government Area have completely been destroyed by the flood with the entire people moved to Ubiaja, the council headquarters.
Narrating his ordeal, one of the affected persons, Alhaji Sedenu Mohammed, said he fled his Udochi community with his two wives and seven children without salvaging anything from his house.
Meanwhile, public-spirited individuals have started sending relief materials to the displaced persons to ameliorate their plight.
In Nasarawa State, Governor Umaru Al-Makura has donated cash and relief materials worth over N5m to over 34,000 displaced persons ravaged by flood in some villages in Toto Local Government Area of the state.
Al-Makura, while donating the relief items to the victims at Umaisha village on Monday, noted that government was sensitive to the plight of the people.
He appealed to the Federal Government to come to the aid of the people in the affected communities.
The Chairman of the Toto Local Government Area, Alhaji Umar Bamu, said that 34,210 persons had been displaced by the flood across seven communities in the area.
He said about 9,000 houses were submerged by water, among them the Primary Healthcare Centre, PHC, and a primary school, while crops and other property worth millions of naira were lost to the flood.
The governor was also at the palace of the traditional ruler in the area, the Ohimege Opanda, Usman Abdullahi, to commiserate with him and the people of the area over the disaster.