By Christian Ogbonna
Yenagoa – The people of Bayelsa have called on the state government and other stakeholders to initiate proactive measures to check flooding because of the constant rains experienced in the state lately.
The residents made the appeal following a four-day downpour which submerged farmlands and houses in some parts of the state.
They said in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Yenagoa that there was an urgent need to increase public awareness campaigns on flood-control measures, particularly in the coastal communities.
NAN reports that the rain, which started on July 22 and ceased on July 26, affected some parts of Kpansia, Amarata, Ekeki, Ovom Community and Azikoro village; all suburbs of Yenagoa, the capital city.
The rain also affected other areas like Onuabum/Otukoe road in Ogbia Local government Area and the Southern Ijaw area.
One of the residents, Mr John Perezi, attributed the challenges facing the people whenever it rained to improper waste disposal habits and the lack of standard drainage systems.
“Even those in the rural communities are not really aware of the measures they could take to prevent flooding; the federal and state governments should, therefore, intensify efforts to educate the people.
“Agencies like the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) should go down to the rural communities where a larger section of the population lives.
“With the benefit of hindsight, the effect of the 2012 flood would have been minimal if the citizens had been adequately sensitised,’’ he added.
Another resident, Tari-Owei Jacob, bemoaned the way the flood-control campaign focused only on the capital city, saying that the campaign should be expanded to cover other areas of the state.
He urged all stakeholders, particularly the three tiers of government, to intensify efforts to sensitise the people to practical flood-prevention strategies.
“The campaign should not focus mainly on Yenagoa, the capital city; it should also be taken to markets, schools, churches and other public places in the other communities.
“The people need to know the accurate steps to take to avert flooding,’’ he said.
Mr Torukuru Adakien, Head of Administration, State Emergency management Agency (SEMA), also expressed a similar concern over the constant rainfall in the state.
“The constant rain has been worrisome; yes, there is the need to educate the people but I must tell you that the state is committed to checking the menace of flooding.
“We have been opening and clearing drains since the beginning of this year; a lot of the drains have been widened to ensure a free flow of water.
“As part of efforts to create more public awareness, we have had series of sensitisation meetings with groups, including farmers and traders,” Adakien said. (NAN)