By Emmanuel Antswen
Makurdi – Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue says 21 local governments areas in the state are facing ecological challenges.
Ortom said this when the Minister of State for the Environment, Mr Ibrahim Jibril, paid him a courtesy visit in Makurdi on Monday.
He decried the level of devastation and destruction caused by flood and other environmental challenges in the state.
The governor said that the ecological challenges ranged from collapsed bridges, culverts, destruction of roads, farmlands and houses, among others.
Ortom said that erosion sites could be found in Guma, Makurdi, Tarka, Gboko, Obi, Otukpo, Ukum, Kastina-Ala and other areas.
He said that River Benue and River Kastina-Ala needed to be dredged as a major measure to control flooding in the state.
“We are really handicapped with the situation. We need funds to build massive waters channels and big drains for uninterrupted water flow to River Benue.
“We want to assure the Federal Government that every fund given to the state would be judiciously used in addressing the flood and environmental challenges,’’ Ortom said.
The governor directed those living along the water channels to relocate on or before the first quarter of 2018 or their houses would be demolished.
Earlier, in his address, the minister of state, called for the enforcement of town planning regulations across the country to check the incidence of flooding.
Jibril advised that town planning regulations should be fully enforced to address some ecological issues such as flooding in the country.
He said that the regulations would prevent people from building on water drains to ensure uninterrupted water flow along the drains.
Jibril said that the Federal Government would introduce “emergency measures that will evacuate people easily and quickly during disasters.’’
According to him, it is not easy to completely relocate people away from their ancestral homes.
“We may not be able to relocate people completely from flood-prone areas, but we can provide basic emergency measures to assist victims immediately during disasters,’’ the minister said.
He described the Benue flood incident as “an urgent national issue that needs to be addressed’’.
Jibril said that he was in the state on the President’s directive to inspect the ecological challenges that led to the flood disaster and report back to him.
He said that one of the causes of flood was climate change and commended the Benue Government for its efforts so far in addressing the issues.
He said that the ministry would provide technical expertise to Benue State Government for effective control of ecological challenges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister, while in the state, will visit other areas facing ecological challenges. (NAN)