BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN It is no longer news that residents of some Kaduna communities now live in places other than their homes, no thanks to the heavy downpour, which chased them away from their homes. Although the present situation of the affected people sounds pathetic, their refusal or inability to yield to warnings from relevant agencies may have resulted in their calamity. Aside the warning signals, it is on record that Kaduna has almost on yearly basis, witnessed flooding, the situation was however reduced to the barest minimum when in 2016 and 2017 there was no case of flooding in the state. The environmental waste management company engaged by the state government, ZL Global Alliance Nigeria Limited, made this possible. This company engaged by the government in 2016 for waste collection and management, went out of their way to dredge the River Kaduna and smaller rivers within the state to give way to free flow of water. The company also went a step further to embark on clearing of drainages hither blocked by dirt and solid waste. Some parts of Kawo area in Kaduna
North local government area of Kaduna State, prior to this heavy downpour weeks ago, experienced flash flood, a situation that caused heavy traffic of vehicular movement for vehicles coming into the town from the Zaria axis as the water took over part of the road, causing vehicles to drive through the water. But thank God, the situation was not that bad, as houses were not affected. Again, as a quick response to the situation then, the ZL global Alliance led by the compliance officer, Abubakar Abdulwahab and consultant, Hajiya Hauwa Umar, were on ground at the scene of the incidence with other workers of the company and helped provide immediate solution to the challenge and relieved motorists’ stress of passage. Also on ground, were management of the Kaduna Environmental Protection Authority (KEPA) led by the general manager, Alhaji Yusuf Rigasa, who attributed the flash flood to indiscriminate dumping of refuse which he said, led to the blockage of the water passage. He said, as an agency in collaboration with ZL global alliance Nigeria limited, necessary actions would be taken to address the situation and prevent reoccurrence. “What we are experiencing is a flash flood as a result of heavy downpour, which pushed the waste and waste collection point and blocked the water passage causing the situation you are seeing.
“We must commend ZL Global Alliance for deploying their team to join forces with us in tackling the situation and to also put measures that will prevent reoccurrence. “However, we are appealing to residents and traders within this area to ensure that their waste are properly disposed off inside the waste bins provided by KEPA and the ZL Global Alliance, the waste management company engaged by the state government for waste collection and disposal whose efforts so far are quite commendable. “As it is now, we are going to engage one of the construction companies in the state to get heavy water pumping machines to be used to pump the water from the road to a proper channel and thereafter evacuate the waste that may have blocked the passage.” he assured. Some motorists, who spoke to our correspondent however, called on the government to help take necessary actions that would prevent reoccurrence in any part of the state, stressing that, what happened was more of a warning signal, and true to their words, it was indeed a warning signal as two weeks after, the rains came down continuously and wreaked havoc in homes, farmlands, destroying several properties. Some Journalists were also not spared in the havoc wreaked by the flood. Some of the victims of the flood narrated their experiences.
According to Mr John Femi Adi, who lost some property to the flood in his residence at Kudenda, he thanked God that his family was not affected, as he had to hurriedly evacuate them to a safer location. In his account, “my house is not really close to the river bank but the heavy downpour did not spare me, the water took better part of my house but I thank God that my family was spared as I hurriedly took them to our family house. I was also able to rescue some of the property”. For Madam Talatu Danladi, she was completely rendered homeless and is presently taking refuge at the primary school within the area in Karatudu area of Ungwa Romi in Chikun local government area. Her position is not different from others who suffered same fate in the area and are also living in the same school premises at the moment. Although, there were warning signals for people living in the river banks to vacate the area as the rains began to set in, some took to the warnings and are happy for their actions today, others did not and today, are regretting their actions. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came to the aide of the flood victims and distributed relief materials to cushion the effect of the flood. The director general of the agency, Engr Mustapha Maihaja, in company of his team, took a tour of affected areas to see things for himself and worried by the deplorable situation of those affected in Ungwa Romi, Karatudu, Gonin Gora and Kigo Road new extension, the DG directed that immediate relief materials be extended to assuage their sufferings. Represented by director, Search and Rescue in the Agency, Air Commodore Akugbe Iyamu he said, “we have been monitoring the rise in water level around Kaduna and as at yesterday, we were not too comfortable with the situation, that is why the DG had to dispatch this high level team to come and do an assessment and also commence this aspect of relief to those affected. “You went round and saw the pathetic situation and that is what necessitated what we are doing now, the distribution of relief materials. “You saw the damage done and the situation those people are in. So, we are giving out what we feel is important to the people at this moment, blankets, corn, rice, mattresses, cement, detergents, immediate needs that will make them comfortable now.” On the amount of the items he said, “We are not looking at the value of anything now, we are only interested in giving succour to those in need. What I can tell you is that the DG is sparing no amount, he just wants to make sure that these people are giving a sense of belonging and a level of decency before we consider any other thing”. Speaking shortly after receiving the items from NEMA for onward distribution to victims, the executive secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency, (SEMA), Ben Kure, who went round with the NEMA team, promised that government would soon take measures against those building and living along the Kaduna river banks and water ways.
“We appreciate the quick response from the DG NEMA and we have received the gesture on behalf of the governor of Kaduna State. “Going forward, adequate measures will be put in place to make sure this does not happen again, and also to reduce the damage to the barest minimum. We are also appealing to the people, especially those living by the water ways to begin to think of what next to do to avoid this kind of situation. “It doesn’t work well to be running away and coming back, a permanent decision should be taken, because no amount of money is too much to be spent to secure lives. It is important that people listen to this appeal. Certain measures are also going to be enforced as regards siting homes near the river or on water ways, because we are a government that cares about the people,” he said. It will not be out of place to suggest to particularly Kaduna State government or its relevant agencies or ministries to further strengthen the waste management company, ZL Global Alliance, whose effort helped in no small measure to prevent Kaduna from flood for two years. Their effort is quite commendable and government should give them more opportunities to do more in ensuring that when flood is mentioned, Kaduna will not be among the states. Again, residents must also learn to yield to warnings while those residing along riverbanks must begin to have a rethink. Blockages of drainage ways should be avoided at all cost by all means, while punishment system should be put in place by relevant government agencies to erring residents going forward.