NEMA camps over 10,000 displaced flood victims in Kogi, Benue

Economic activities along the Kogi-Abuja road paralysed as commuters are left stranded in flooded areas
Economic activities along the Kogi-Abuja road paralysed as commuters are left stranded in flooded areas

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) says it has deployed relief materials to the camps where over 10,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Kogi and Benue states are currently taking refuge after they were sacked from their communities and homes.

A technical team from the agency comprising officials and critical stakeholders in disaster management visited areas devastated by the massive floods along the banks of Rivers Benue and Niger and their tributaries in Benue and Kogi States at the weekend to assess the damage and identify suitable intervention required to address the problem.

The team reported that most of the affected areas remained flooded at the weekend, with most of the displaced persons resorting to taking shelter in four camps each in Benue and Kogi States, while many others are also taking cover with their relatives in neigbhouring communities.

According to NEMA, the flood in Benue affected the communities in Makurdi along the river belt, while about nine local government areas were affected in Kogi State, with Ibaji Local Government Area almost completely submerged.

“The inhabitants are now taking refuge in the neighbouring communities,” Yushau Shuaib, Head, Public Relations, NEMA, said on Sunday.

He identified the other local governments areas affected as Bassa, Ofu, Kogi, Omala, Ajaokuta, Ankpa, Igalamela and Lokoja, where choice property, including hotels, residential buildings, government offices and fishing communities along the confluence of Rivers Benue and Niger were also virtually submerged.

NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Charles Agbo, during a meeting with  Kogi State governor, Wada Idris, to brief him on the situation in his domain, warned of prolonged flooding as more water would still be released from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon and Kainji Dam with the intensifying rains.

He also urged the state government to enforce the standard regulation on urban planning and development as well as permanently relocate communities in the flood plains to safer locations.

“Even after the flood, most of the submerged houses may become too weak and no longer be safe for habitation, in addition to the potential health hazards from the disaster,” he warned. “Therefore, the states governments must to rise up to their responsibilities to the affected communities as the Federal Government, through NEMA, would provide necessary support the displaced persons.”

The governor expressed concern of the Federal Government towards the flood situation and requested support to reinforce the efforts by the state government to assist the displaced persons, while urging NEMA and other relevant organizations to identify measures to mitigate future occurrence of the flood.

Major economic activities along the Abuja-Lokoja road have been paralyzed since last Friday, as the flood has cut off the route. Though temporary diversions have created to ease gridlock along the route, traffic officials and emergency workers are having hectic moments in controlling stranded motorists.