By Stephen Adeleye
Lokoja – The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) says theft and outright vandalisation of its equipment have been hampering its efforts to disseminate accurate data and information on flooding.
The Director-General of NIHSA, Mr Clement Nze, stated this on Thursday in Lokoja at a sensitisation workshop on security and prevention of vanadalisation of Hydrological Services equipment.
According to Nze, the agency’s observation stations comprising 32 automatic stations and over 200 manually operated ones in different parts of the country are being daily attacked by some unpatriotic elements.
” Instead of expanding and increasing the number and density of the stations, we keep moving circle by replacing the existing stations that are being lost to theft, vandalisation and /or washed away by flood waters year in year out,” he said.
According to him, most of these equipment are not locally available and require huge financial outlay to acquire and to put them back to operation.
Nze said that Hydrological data was not only useful to the determination of the level and extent of flooding but also critical to the provision of basic facilities such as water , roads, agriculture and food security.
He, therefore, called for a change of attitude toward the protection of hydrological facilities so that the country could overcome the problem of flooding and environment related hazards.
“Let us help to protect and own all Hydrological equipment and installations within our domains in order to reduce vital losses to flooding and other water hazards ,” he said.
The director-general also appealed to stakeholders to pay adequate attention to forecasts and early warning information being regularly released by the agency.
He said that the workshop could not have come at a more appropriate time than now that the country was faced with the challenge of flooding.
So far, he said, that 29 states, the Federal capital territory and 80 local government areas had experienced flooding this year.
Nze called for concerted efforts to reduce the menace of flooding by protecting hydrological equipment in various communities.
The Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Environment , Mrs Hannah Onyinoyi, in her welcome address, expressed disgust over the activities of vandals across the state.
She urged community leaders and traditional rulers in the state to protect and take ownership of government infrastructure in their communities so as to protect them.
A Consultant to the NIHSA, Mr Ibraheem Olomoda, blamed human errors for the theft and vandalisation of hydrological equipment across Nigeria.
Olomoda suggested synergy between the agency and other stakeholders to reduce the activities of vandals.