'We Must Prepare For Disaster'

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The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, says preparation for disaster  management in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, is imperative because disasters come mostly  unannounced.

General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, LASEMA, Dr. Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, who  said this at the inauguration of the Local Emergency Management Committee, LEMC, at  Agbowa, Epe area of the state gave the example of the displaced victims of the  Ajegunle flood disaster, which led to the relocating of about 1,000 people to the  Relief Camp at Agbowa.

“It must be noted that disaster management requires the active participation and  collaboration of all stakeholders, especially those at the local government and  local council development areas.

“This is so because the impact of any disaster or emergency is always on the  immediate communities. If this is true therefore, the wisest thing to do is to think  ahead and have a solid mechanism in place, in anticipation of such emergencies,  which often times do not give warnings,” he said.

According to Oke-Osanyintolu, “disasters like the Ajegunle flood, much as we do not  pray for them, will occasionally come. That is why we need the LEMCs on ground as  the first and immediate organ of response, before further assistance would come from  higher quarters.

“I wish to state that throughout the world, emphasis has shifted from search and  rescue to disaster risk reduction through emergency prevention, mitigation and early  warning.  Therefore, we in Lagos State cannot accept the back seat or be complacent  with our modest achievements. We must strive to catch up with the rest of the world  in this important area of saving lives and property.”

He stated that the agency intended to establish School Emergency Response Teams in  primary and secondary schools, as well as Hospital Emergency Management Committees  in all General Hospitals in the state.

The LASEMA boss stated that the inauguration of the committee only went a step  further to legitimize and formalize what “we have been doing together, for better  results.

“Indeed, the best time for this exercise is now, as the state moves swiftly to the  rank of mega status. That status comes with its own challenges, like exposure to  more traffic accidents upon increased vehicular density, possibility of floods, fire  disasters and sundry others.

“Since disasters do not give warning, ours is to be prepared and be ready to move  into action, everyday; every hour; every minute; every second and every moment.”

He added that the aim of establishing the LEMCs was to prevent or reduce the impact  of emergencies within their geographical jurisdiction; to ensure the preparedness of  their community; to coordinate response to any emergency or disaster; to undertake  emergency risk management process to identify and analyse local hazards and  vulnerability and to provide for the recovery of their community.

So, far the LEMC has been established in 11 Local Governments and Local Council  Development Areas such as Eredo, Imota, Ikosi-Ejinrin, Ikorodu North, Ikorodu West,  Ijede, Igbogbo-Baiyeku, Oshodi, Isolo, Agege and Ojodu.

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