• Flooding, worst in annals of state’s history, says Masari
• There is nothing to worry about, govt assures Lagosians
At least, 44 persons lost their lives in the early hours of yesterday following a downpour that lasted over two hours and wreaked havoc in 10 communities in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, the president’s home state.
More than 100 houses were also destroyed with over 250 livestock confirmed killed in the heavy rain, which started at about 11:00p.m. on Sunday and lasted till the early hours yesterday.
Some of the communities affected by the flood are Kwata, Dantudu, Sabuwar, Tukare, Tsohuwar Tukare and Ungwar Mai Kwari, among others. The failure of the rain to stop on time caused the river channels in the affected villages to overflow their banks, killing many residents and sweeping away several vehicles, motorcycles and farmlands, in the process.
About 17 others died in neighbouring Niger Republic, where the downpour had washed their bodies to. It was learnt that efforts were being made to ferry the bodies back to the country for burial.
An eyewitness said the downpour led to much flooding with resultant overflow of river channels in the affected areas. He said bodies were recovered from debris of fallen buildings, as many were asleep when the rain started.
The District Head of Jibia, Alhaji Rabe Rabi’u, who confirmed the development to newsmen, described it as “highly devastating. As I speak to you, we discovered the bodies of 25 persons including mothers and children and many are still missing.”
He called on the federal and state governments to come to their rescue, saying, “It is only government that can assist us because the situation is beyond our financial strength.”
The council’s Information Officer, Sa’ad Suleiman, said the situation was aggravated by those building structures on waterways as well as those dumping refuse in drainage.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Aminu Waziri, said 42 people died as result of the natural disaster.
Waziri said the agency’s officers were moving around affected communities to ascertain number of casualties and houses affected for onward transmission to government for intervention.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari described the incident as the worst in the annals of the state’s history. Masari, who visited the areas affected by the disaster, wept openly while addressing some of the victims.
Masari said what he saw could only be compared to what one watches at cinemas or movies. He said more than 44 people lost their lives while 20 people were still unaccounted for, including a bride whose husband had married her three days ago.
“I can say that I have never seen this kind of disaster in my life. The water level is above 10 feet height and it is a purely a natural disaster as the government had constructed drainages that were emptying into Jibia river. The water from the river moved in a reverse order and came back to the town and caused the flooding.
Masari also said that President Muhammadu Buhari had sent his condolences over the natural disaster and had ordered the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to send relief materials to the victims.
He said the president who is in faraway Netherlands, ordered NEMA to send relief materials, of which 13 trucks had since been dispatched by the agency.
Meanwhile, in the wake of torrential rainfall experienced in some neighbouring states, the Lagos State government on Monday allayed fears of residents, assuring that the ongoing flood abatement and ocean shore protection measures will keep them out of harm’s way during the rainy season.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a statement, said the government had already commenced the maintenance of all primary, secondary and tertiary drainage channels under the Cleaner Lagos Initiative.
“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration is mindful of the terrain and geographical location of Lagos being very close to the coast, which makes it relatively prone to flooding and as such has come up with the global best practices through the engagement of reputable and competent contractors for all year schedule maintenance of all primary, secondary and tertiary drainage channels in the five divisions of the State,” Bamigbetan said.
He listed the areas undergoing dredging and cleaning to include Adetokunbo Ademola collector drain; 1004 collector drain – 1004 – Bishop Aboyade Cole to IGI; Idejo collector drain – Idejo – Adeola Odeku to Ozumba Mbadiwe; Billy collector drain, Epe; Beecroft/Simpson collector drain Lagos Island; Jankara/Adeniji Adele/Dolphin Estate Channel, Lagos Island; Ashimowu/Bakere Channel, Mushin; Ladipo Trape Zoidal channel, Mushin; Kehinde/Eta-oko collector drain, satellite Town, Amuwo-Odofin and dredging of Ketu-Alapere channel.
Others, according to the Commissioner, are dredging of 3.50km long Ketu-Alapere Drainage Channel, Kosofe LGA; 2.07km long Lakowe Drainage Channel, Lakowe, Ibeju Lekki; NTA 7 Tejuosho/Alaka Channel, Surulere; Osapa/Maiyegun Channel, Eti-Osa; Abeokuta/Egbe/Idimu Channel, Alimosho LGA; Ogombo Channel, Eti-Osa; Aguda/Coker Channel, Surulere and 615m long Kokoro Abu/Adeniran Ogunsanya Drainage Channel, Sabo, Ikorodu.
He also listed areas being cleaned up under the exercise to include Akibo Savage Collector drain, Victoria Island; Church gate collector drain, Victoria Island; Agoro Odiyan collector drain Victoria Island; Old Ewu Road collector drain, Oshodi Isolo; 5.00km long Ladipo Collector Drain, Fatai Atere, Mushin LGA; 1.98km long Alafia Collector Drain, Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA; 2.30km long 21 Road Collector Drain, Festac, Amuwo Odofin LGA; 820m long Amuto/Adeniji Adele Collector Drain, Lagos Island LGA; 235.0m long Thomas/Adeniji Adele Collector Drain, Lagos Island LGA; 850.00m long Oba Sefiu Adewale Drainage, Epe LGA and 950.0m long Billy Tertiary Drain, Epe LGA.