At least, seven lives were lost to flood disaster in different parts of Kwara state this year, with Patigi riverine community in Patigi local government area of the state as the worst hit.
In the aftermath of the disaster which occurred last week, about 1,300 households and 2, 800 persons were affected, while large hectares of farmland and houses were also submerged.
Managing Director Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) Alhaji Abubakar Yelwa made the disclosure weekend in Patigi during the flag-off of distribution of N50 million worth of relief materials to victims of flood in Kwara state.
He listed the items to include 1,300 mattresses, 500 bags of rice, 200 cartons of bathing soap and 250 cartons of detergents among others.
The commission had earlier flagged-off its medical outreach in Lafiagi, Edu local government area of the state to provide healthcare services and prevent the likelihood of epidemic.
Represented by the commission’s director, environment and community development, Mr. Mahmud Muhammed, the HYPPADEC boss warned those living in the riverine communities to vacate the place, alerting the worst disaster was waiting to happen.
The MD who disclosed that the relief materials were to the tune of “N40 – 50 million,” said the federal government might no longer have the resources to continue to provide relief materials to affected persons as a result of the recurring flood disaster in the area due to dwindling resources.
He said HYPPADEC was considering sponsoring a bill to enact a law that will prohibit people from residing certain kilometres away from riverine communities to avert recurring loss of lives and properties.
The MD decried refusal of residents around riverine areas and victims of previous flood disasters to relocate to IDP camps provided by the federal government.
“That is the big challenge we are having with my people. They continue to turn their deaf ears to flood warnings for decades, move out of this zone, they will not heed,” he said.
Asked if lives were lost in the flood, Yelwa said: “We have received report of 5- 7 people who have lost their lives in the state.”
The MD, who clarified that though no life was lost to the latest flood in Patigi, however, said due to “climate change, the effect of the flood in the community this year is far worst from what we have experienced decades ago” adding 1, 200 households with 2, 800 persons were affected.
On the medical outreach, he said the essence was to engage the commission’s medical team to treat cases of infection and prevent any likelihood of epidemic that might break out in the aftermath of the disaster.
A resident of the area, Mohammed Kolo, who said the damage done by the flood was in hundreds of millions of naira, lamented that the affected persons now have to pay between N1,500 to N2, 500 per head to ferry in a paddling canoe to their homes and villages.
“Even that one is very risky, anything can happen. The canoes are being operated by individuals who charged between N1, 500 to N2, 500 per head. If you are alone, you will be charged N1, 500, but if you are with a machine, it is N2, 500 per head.
“Depending on its size, the canoe cannot take more than 20 persons and 7-10 machines at a go in order not to capsize,” he said.
Speaking further, Kolo said, “most of the people have left their homes, those that are still there hang their wrappers up and sleep there at night.
“The worst thing is that after the flood, some people will not be able to return to their homes because most of the houses have been destroyed.“
Another victim, Mohammed Garba, who said he lost over one hectare of his rice farm to the flood, regretted that they could not relocate to the IDPs’ camp provided by the federal government because their means of livelihood which according to him, “is fishing and farming is in the riverine area.”
He also said the accommodation provided in the camp was inadequate for the number of people leaving in the riverine community, he estimated to be up to 2,500.
8,000 get relief materials in Niger
In a related development, no fewer than 8, 000 households in Niger state benefitted from relief materials distributed to communities ravaged by flood in Niger state by the Hydro Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC).
It was learnt that 6000 bags of rice, 5000 treated mosquito nets, 1000 blankets, 1000 cartons of detergents/ soap, 100 bundles of roofing zones, 3000 mattresses and a cash backing of N15 million were distributed.
Flagging off the distribution at the weekend in New Ketso resettlement site of Mokwa local government council of Niger state, the HYPPADEC boss said the exercise was going on simultaneously in all the six HYPPADEC member states in Nigeria.
Represented by the director of operations, Engineer Ilyasu Abdullahi Wara, he said “the gesture is part of efforts by the commission to alleviate the sufferings of the people in communities affected by flood.”
Yelwa therefore appealed to beneficiaries to ensure judicious utilisation of the items for maximum benefits.
In their separate remarks, Alhaji Idris Alhassan, and Alhaji Mohammed Ketso, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries said: “Our schools have been flooded and they will remain closed until the water subsides. We are suffering and need urgent intervention to alleviate our hardship.”
Also speaking, one of the beneficiaries, Malama Amina Muazu, said she’s from Ketso village which was among the communities affected by excess water released from Kainji and Jebba Dams.
She expressed appreciation to HYPPADEC for such laudable gesture and called for the construction of additional toilets and housing accommodation at new Ketso resettlement site to ease their hardship.
Flood renders families homeless in Kogi
Also, thousands of households across nine local government areas of Kogi state have been rendered homeless as a result of the Rivers Niger and Benue that overflew their banks.
The affected local government areas are Ajaokuta, Bassa, Ibaji , Lokoja, Kogi-Koton Karfe, Ofu, Olamaboro and Idah.
One of our correspondents who visited some of the houses submerged by the flood, reported that worst hit by the flood in Lokoja are Adankolo, Sarkin Noma, Gadumo, Lokongoma and part of Barrack.
One of the victims at Adankolo, Michael Danladi, said water entered his house as early as 3am on Sunday where his family members were still sleeping.
According to him, some of his household materials such as electronics and food stuff were destroyed by the flood.
Another victim at Kabawa area in Lokoja, Alhaji Usman Adamu described the flood as a replica of what happened in 2012 where many people, including himself, lost a lot of property.
He appealed to the federal government to find a lasting solution to the issue of yearly flooding in Kogi state.