By Tony Adibe
The Enugu State Government has commenced the reinforcement of different measures to address the imminent erosion and environmental challenges the state is predicted to face within the next couple of months.
This development came even as the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) has warned that parts of the state would be affected by flooding ranging from low to moderate-risk flooding.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, disclosed this on Friday in Enugu at a meeting with stakeholders and members of the taskforce constituted to assist the government to control and mitigate the impact of the flooding.
Addressing members of the taskforce drawn from different professional agencies in the state, the SSG warned residents against erecting structures on waterways, dumping of waste and refuse on drainage and deliberate obstruction of canals.
Some of the stakeholders and agencies included 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), and others.
NewsBits, however, learnt that 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.
Prof. Onyia said 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 in order to swing into action not only to forestall the environmental disaster but to also draw up a sustainable plan on strategic engagement of future disasters.
The SSG said: “The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) in its 2023 seasonal climate prediction predicted that the rainfall onset will be a lot more intensive this year, and in most parts of the country. Enugu State is among the states predicted to experience extended rainfall and will likely record 1300 millimeters to 2000 millimeters of rainfall 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 common frequent threat to life, property, economy and environment. Sequel to this comment, His Excellency, the Governor of Enugu State has considered it very pertinent to establish a taskforce for drainage, clearing of debris, dredging of waterways, and identification of buildings constructed on waterways. And when we identify 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 of this, 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 clearly 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 so that we don’t lose our citizens.”
He further appealed to members of the public to cooperate with the taskforce 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 outbreak of waterborne diseases and protect lives of citizens.
The secretary of the newly constituted taskforce, Mrs Chinasa Mbah bemoaned the fact 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 waste, manage the environment and erect structures. She said: “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.”