5th September, 2011
Agencies of government are not always prepared for natural disasters. That is why the consequences are usually so grave in our country. The flood disaster in Ibadan on 26 August is a perfect example of the lethargy of the government towards preparing for natural disasters.
After the great deluge that swept through Lagos State on Sunday 10 July this year, governments in neighbouring states ought to have come up with measures to prevent such a flood disaster from happening in their own states. In fact, the havoc wreaked by flood in Ibadan on 26 June this year should have also served as an early warning sign for the government and people of the state to put their house in order. But that was not to be.
Although Ibadan is not a coastal town like Lagos, the flood disaster that occurred there, leading to the death of over 100 people and the destruction of houses and bridges could have been averted or its impact reduced if the agencies of government had prepared for it. But the drains were left uncleared, refuse heaps blocked some of the drains, houses were built on drainage channels and all these lawless acts backfired on the people when the floods came sweeping through the city.
The state government should have been proactive by clearing the drains and demolishing illegal structures built on drainage channels before the rains.
We are saddened by the monumental loss of lives and properties. The survivors are in desperate need of humanitarian support and all well meaning Nigerians should rally round them as urgently as possible. Although relief materials have begun to trickle in, there is need for everybody to lend support to the victims of the disaster to enable them rebuild their lives.
As the victims continue to count their losses, the Oyo State environmental agency must put in place measures that will prevent such disaster in future. It is not enough for governors and the President to visit the disaster areas and bemoan what has happened. Let everybody plan ahead to prevent this kind of disaster in future.
As for the Eleyele Water Works, there should be a better way of freeing the dam whenever it starts to overflow. Residents of that part of the city blamed the authorities for the disaster that occurred there because they opened up the dam and it compounded the already bad situation when the released water swelled the flood in the area.
There should be proper channelisation and residents should stop dumping wastes into drainage channels. Indeed, as experts had said, the incident was both human and natural disaster. But if adequate measures were taken before the flooding, the human aspect associated with the disaster would have been avoided.
Government officials who approved buildings on natural waterways and drainage channels should be brought to book because they are partly responsible for the Ibadan flood tragedy of 26 August. Natural disasters have been happening in developed countries like America, London, in Europe and Asia. But it is how these countries prepare for such disasters and respond to the aftermath that mitigate their impact in terms of human casualties and material losses. We just have to be equally prepared at all times for natural disasters which occur without any warning.