•3 drown in Delta, Ughelli-Asaba Road cut off
•Food scarcity may hit 20 states -Minister
From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt, FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa and PETRUS OBI, Enugu
The death toll from the devastating flood that sacked several communities across the country has continued to rise as three persons were drowned in Isoko area of Delta State while rescuing victims from the affected areas. Also, residents of Omoku community in Rivers State are living in fear of attack by snakes as seven people are already hospitalised at the Omoku General Hospital, as a result of snake bites.
All these are an aftermath of the flood tragedy which, according to the Minister of Environment, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim Mallafia, may cause food scarcity in 20 states. Daily Sun gathered yesterday, that some of residents of Omoku and the neighbouring towns were not only being hunted by flood, but snakes and other reptiles which were washed ashore. Over 200,000 residents were said to have fled the community.
The flood came when the Orashi River overflowed its bank and entered Omoku city, covering Obohia Street, Commissioner Road, Akorita Street, Dan Street, among others. The fleeing residents complained that the water, suddenly swooped on their homes, destroying property and other means of livelihood.
The residents are therefore, calling on the Federal and State governments to come to their aid by evacuating the people and providing food and temporary accommodation for the displaced persons. In Delta State, communities submerged by the flood which has also cut off Ugheli-Asaba Road include: Ovrode, Ofagbe, Okpe-Isoko, Lagos Iyede, Igeh, Ikpede, Onogboko, Itebioge, Exiro, Iyede-Ame, Azagba, Otoka-Ekegbresi, Egbeme, Warri-Irri, Iwrie-Ogbokor, Ekpe, Asafo, Ivrogbo and Ashaka comprising Isoko North and South as well as Ndokwa East Local Government Areas.
Motorists plying the Ughelli-Asaba express RRoad have diverted to other routes following the overflow of flood water around Osisa, extending to Ashaka and Aboh in Ndokwa East. Transport fares by road and water have been hiked by 500 percent in some areas. However, Secretary to the State Government, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay along with other members of the Isoko political class, have mobilised over 36 speed and engine boats to help in the rescue of people still trapped in riverine areas. Clothes, foodstuff and other medicaments were also provided by the group. Explaining the situation to newsmen, Commissioner for Land, Surveys and Urban Development, Sir Patrick Ferife said political office holders from Isoko North and South Local Government Areas, led by the SSG were deeply touched by the losses caused by the flood. Hepromised to pool resources to provide palliatives to the victims. During a visit to Bayelsa State, yesterday, Minister of Environment, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, raised fears of food scarcity in 20 states owing to the disorder caused by flood, saying, the situation calls for national emergency.
Mailafia who doubles the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Flood Disaster Areas stated this after visiting President Goodluck Jonathan Local Government Area, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson local government area and other parts of the state ravaged by flood. Mailafia who was accompanied by her colleagues, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe and Minister of State for Works and Infrastructures, Bashir Yuguda predicted that the flood could lead to food scarcity in affected states.
Areas badly affected include Odi, Agbere, a section of Kaiama, Sagbama town, Boluorua, Governor Seriake Dickson’s village, Toru-Orua, Ekeremor area, road leading to Otuoke, countryhome of President Goodluck Jonathan, Biseni, Koroama, Igbogene, all in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state. While lamenting that most people did not heed the warning of the imminent flood, she said that it was good that no death has been recorded so far in the state. Mailafia, who said her committee had been going round the country since the flooding started, noted that government would come up with programmes to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
With over 25,000 persons already displaced in both Kogi and Enugu border communities, the flood has continued to threaten more communities in the two states. The flood has submerged houses, farmlands and major roads in Echenwo, Odoeke and Obala in Ibaji LGA of Kogi States as well as in Igga and Ojjor in Uzo-uwani, Enugu State. Chairman of Uzo Uwani Local Government Area, Hon. Cornel Onwubuya who visited the three camps where victims mostly from Kogi State are taking refuge yesterday, donated relief materials worth over N5 million to the victims.
Onwubuya had prior to the donation, visited the border communities last month to assess the situation. During the visit, he expressed concern over the large number of Ibaji people seeking refuge in their area.
The council chairman and a leader of Igga community, Chief Maximus Ukwuta who led the team that visited the area, urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relief agencies in the country to quickly come to the aid of the refugees. Speaking during the presentation of materials which included over 100 bags of rice and beans, toilet roll, antiseptics, tomatoes, grandnut oil, among others, Onwubuya said that government shared in the grief of the refugees. He said that his council and Enugu State government were aware of their plight and urged them not to entertain any fear.
He assured them that government would continue to assist them and provide security to them until they leave the camps. The council boss stated that the materials were presented to them to alleviate their sufferings and called for the intervention of the Federal Government, insisting that the burden would be too much for the council to bear. Leaders of the different refugee camps had while receiving the items, showered encomiums on Onwubuya for his swift intervention and wished him well in his endeavours.
It could be recalled that people of Ekanyi, Obale and Affa communities in Ibaji council area of Kogi crossed over to Enugu boundary community of Ogrugu, last weekend using wooden canoes after their homes were submerged by flood. Some other natives also found their way to Idah in Kogi State where they are now seeking refuge.