Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Delta Flood: Power Plant Submerged As Monarch, 5 Others Die
At least five people, including two children and a traditional ruler, have died as a result of continued massive flooding that has ravaged parts of Delta State in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. In addition, the floods have submerged a multi-billion naira Okpai Independent Power Plant (IPP). Large parts of Ndokwa East local government area are also under water.
The still rising flood has affected parts of Asaba, the state capital, as well as such communities as Ovrode, Ofagbe, Okpe- Isoko, Lagos Iyede, Igeh, Ikpide Irri, Ivrogno, Onogboko, Itebioge, Iyede-Ame, and Azagba. Other flooded areas include Otoka-Ekegbresi, Egbeme, Okrama-Oyede, WarriIrri, IwrieOgbokor, Ekpe, Asafo, Umeh, Aviara, Uzere, Asaba-Ase, Aboh,Kwale, and Ashaka. Isoko South and North and Ndokwa East local government areas are the most devastated.
SaharaReporters learnt that the Okpai IPP was shut down, with the road leading to Okpai in impassable condition.
In Aboh community, the flooding led to the death of a local monarch and two children. Three other persons reportedly lost their lives at the relief camp in Ivrogbo, Isoko South council area. Survivors of the flood were then relocated to St. Michael’s College in Oleh, the headquarters of the local government area.
The flood wreaked havoc on farms, schools, courts, health centers, markets and electricity installations. People now use canoes as the only means of getting about in the flooded communities.
In an interview, Obi Emmanuel Obiechina, a leader of the Aika community in Ndokwa East local government area, said his residence was submerged by the flood. In addition, he stated that the lives of members of his community were shattered, with most of them refugees in various communities in Delta and Anambra States. Mr. Obiechina had taken refuge in a hotel in Asaba.
The traditional ruler said that he refused to send his people to camps for displaced people set up by the state government because those in the camps were being dehumanized. He blamed the excessive flooding on dereliction of duty by the government. “We have lived in that community for more than 500 years and we have not had this kind of disaster before. It’s the opening of the dams that have now brought this flooding on us. We are so devastated and everything that the Aika people have – land, crops, houses – have been washed away.”
He said the government had failed to address issues of dams and the dredging of the Niger and Benue rivers. He added that it was wrong to blame Cameroon for the crisis, adding that Nigerian officials had failed to do what was right all these years.
Mr. Obiechina accused the Federal Government of insensitivity to the plight of his people, adding that, whilst the entire Ndokwa East was under water, government officials were amassing wealth for themselves.
The ruler said some evacuees from his community were forced to live under harsh conditions. “Some of the little children find it difficult to cope because about 17 to 20 people have to squat in one small apartment,” he said, and then called on the government to take immediate measures to alleviate the suffering.
Speaking in the same vein, the National President of Ndokwa Youth Congress, Hessington Chimennma Okolo, said that the loss of human lives to the flooding was largely avoidable.
“It is unfortunate, really unfortunate that the entire local government is submerged under water and government at all levels are running helter skelter without any coherent plan on the ground to salvage the sad situation,” said Mr. Okolo, a lawyer.
He added: “To underscore the extent of this tragedy, the Agip-run IPP had to be closed down. This shows you what my people are going through.”
He disclosed that the traditional ruler of Adiai did not survive the flood.
“The most unfortunate of it all is that this is not a natural disaster per se but a man-made tragedy. There were warnings, yet the relevant authorities kept mute. This tragedy is mostly as a result of government negligence and irresponsibility. I hear there was a warning on radio and television but the question is – how many people in the villages along the River Niger really listen to radio and television? What the government should have done was to dispatch their emergency staff to the river areas to have a one-on-one with the communities. Instead they stayed in Abuja doing jingles on television and radio.”
Meanwhile, Ossai Ossai, the member representing Ndokwa/Ukuanni Federal Constituency in the House of Representative, has moved a motion in the House calling on the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to live up to its responsibility.
As at the time of filling this report most of these communities have not received any support from government authorities.
Meanwhile, a health official told SaharaReporters that there was a real prospect of an outbreak of disease among displaced residents who depend on the flood water as their only source of drinking water. “There could be a major health crisis in the area,” said the source, who asked for anonymity.