The Enugu State Government has commenced the reinforcement of different means to address the imminent erosion and environmental challenges the state is predicted to face within the next couple of months, even as the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) warned that parts of the state would be affected by flooding ranging from low to moderate-risk flooding.
This was disclosed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, on Friday in Enugu at a meeting with stakeholders and members of the task force constituted to assist the government in controlling and mitigating the impact of the flooding.
While addressing members of the task force drawn from different professional agencies in the state, such as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Enugu State Waste Management Authority (ESWAMA), Enugu State Ministry of Health, Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, town planning authority, the chairmen of the affected council areas, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others, the SSG warned residents against erecting structures on waterways, dumping of waste and refuse on drainage and deliberate obstruction of canals.
He noted that the state governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, was worried by the predictions and immediately directed that taskforce that would protect the lives and property of the citizens be constituted to swing into action not only to forestall the environmental disaster but also to draw up a sustainable plan on the strategic engagement of future disasters.
He states, “The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), in its 2023 seasonal climate prediction, predicted that the rainfall onset would be much more intensive this year and in most parts of the country. Enugu State is expected to experience extended rainfall and will likely record 1300 millimetres to 2000 millimetres of rain this year.
“Also, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, in its annual flood outlook, listed Enugu State among the 224 local governments that fall within the moderate flood risk areas.
“Flood is one of the most devastating disasters in the world and a frequent threat to life, property, economy and environment. Sequel to this comment, His Excellency, the Governor of Enugu State, has considered it pertinent to establish a task force for drainage, clearing debris, dredging waterways, and identifying river construction. And when we place these buildings, to take necessary actions.
“This is expected to serve as an emergency preparedness measure for the 2023 flooding and beyond. As a result, we’ve been all invited to this maiden meeting to come up with the constituted force that will be authorized to commence work immediately in the state.
“A letter was written to us caving out the risk-prone areas within Enugu State. That’s why the specific local government chairmen whose areas are affected are seated here today. And we’re trying to find ways not to lose our citizens.”
Prof. Onyia further appealed to members of the public to cooperate with the task force in the course of carrying out their lawful duties, identifying buildings on waterways, evacuating illegal structures and blocked drainages, adding that enforcement of building regulations, prosecution of sanitary offences, proactive response to the environment will mitigate the adverse effects of erosion, prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases and protect lives of citizens.
The Secretary of the newly constituted task force, Mrs Chinasa Mbah, lamented that the state had been experiencing erosions such as devastating flash floods with consequences on livelihoods.
She noted that the state was likely to experience torrents of rain from now to later December, urging residents to exercise caution on how they dispose of waste, manage the environment and erect structures.
“Our ideas about the environment should change. People have been building on erosion-prone areas against warnings. Some of the buildings have already collapsed, and we are only entering the peak of rainfall in our state,” she added.
Some of the local government areas with a high risk of flooding include Enugu East, Enugu South, Enugu North, Nkanu East, Nsukka, Udi, Ezeagu, Nkanu West, Igboeze North, Igboeze South, Igbo-Etiti, Oji River, Uzo Uwani, Aninri, Awgu, Isi Uzo, among others.