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EDITORIAL

Serious citizens’ collaboration needed to check dangerous floods, erosion, deaths

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YEARLY, the rains  wreck havoc around us but we seem not to take precautions. From ,the rains come in the Savannah and gather strength and regularity each succeeding month. Expectedly, South East of Nigeria experiences torrential rainfall by the middle  of the year.

  ONE phenomenon that characterises this period of the year in poorly managed environment is flooding, sudden flush of rain water on streets. Roads  suddenly become impassable and drains quickly overflow. However, more disheartening is that sometimes,  deaths of the users of the roads  occur.

  THIS explains why Anambra State Government under Professor Chukwuma Soludo is in battle against environmental degradation and engages  in flood control through good waste disposal and managemen.t Where such incidents occur, leading to death of citizen(s), government and people of Anambra feel gravely saddened.

  EFFORTS put into achieving safe environment notwithstanding, Anambra had in the past witnessed deaths occasioned by rain-water flood, stretching government’s wits in the task.

   JUNE 23, 2022, was a black Thursday for a mother of two children (name withheld). She was  caught up in rain on a school-run at Afor-Nkpor area of Idemili North Local Government Area, when ferocious rain flood swept off her eight-year-old child right in her presence.

  ALL efforts  by people to rescue the little  boy amounted to nullity as he could not be found anywhere. Later, his dead body was discovered wedged in  a drainage several meters away.

  THE incident was not only agonising to his helpless mother but to his family,  school mates and peers. That brought to memory, similar sordid developments that happened previously, among them the death of a roadside roasted-corn seller (woman) who was swept away in 2020 by ravaging flood after heavy downpour in Fegge area of Onitsha. In 2021,  two school children, drowned after having been swept by rain flood in Awka Road,  in the Onitsha commercial city, following a downpour. The list stretches to many incidents in various years.

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  GIVEN that the phenomenon recurs almost annually, it would tantamount to insensitivity on the part of the  people to their problems if the development is paid no attention to. Suffice it to say that dismissing it as mere accident is playing the ostrich and definitely not in good taste for a responsible society.

  AGREED that Nigeria’s society is enmeshed in many environmental challenges, Anambra has her hands  full as she squares up against the phenomenon given the high number of life threatening gully erosions scattered across her landscape.

  WITHOUT  doubt, Anambra’s peculiar topography which aids some environmental crisis demands frantic interventions from both the federal government and international community. These institutions have been making immense contributions but since the situation has not been battled to a halt, the helping hands continue to be called for.

  CITIZENS are not left out in the call despite being recipients of the impact. Hence the call  that they should play more active part in controlling certain factors that lead to the floods and erosion. There must be a serious response to the situation from the people, no matter how little.

  A PROBLEM known is half solved and what obtains in other climes can help in solving local challenges. Japan for example  is prone to earthquakes, yet, on her lands stand innumerable skyscrapers. China and Indonesia share similar environmental challenges but both countries have been able to manage the crisis to very minimal damages.

  THE environmental challenge that has taken lives in Anambra is not beyond her control, given the right attitude and disposition to dealing with it.

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  BEYOND good channeling of the drainage in the state by relevant agencies of government, citizens should help make the facilities effective. Experts have identified dumping of refuse into the drain as a key contributory factor  to blocking of waterways and concomitant flooding.

  EXPERTS spot other  human activities on the drainage, such as  trading and erecting illegal structures as principal factors to blocking of drains in the state.

  TO UNDERSTAND the risks associated with rain flood on the road, a passage through Igbo-Ukwu, Ichida Road during rainfall can stimulate individual’s action into fighting the menace of drainage blocking.  In Onitsha, despite the Sakamori drainage, many portions of roads in the environs are  waterlogged whenever there is downpour, thereby, putting people at risk. The Ochanja area down to Iweka and some areas in Fegge all suffer flooding. In Awka, the well asphalted Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is terribly flooded at UNIZIK Temporary Site area whenever heavy rain falls. On a bad day, one can count not less than three vehicles that plunged into the drains between Temp-site and Immigration Junction of the same road.

  GIVEN efforts of government to rid the state of filth and free the sewage channels, it is expected that citizens key into the project but  surprisingly, deviants go all out to water-down the effort by pouring refuse into the drain. The rippling effect is that not only is the drainage blocked, silt accumulates and costs the state additional expense to evacuate, as well as constitutes breeding habitat for mosquitoes and  unfriendly bacteria. 

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  PERHAPS, while the society grieves over direct loss of lives, as in the case of the woman that lost her son to flood in Nkpor, what is not given equal consideration is the number of  those who die as a result of malaria and other diseases spread from dirty environment.

  NATIONAL Light believes that society needs to do more in the fight against flooding, erosion and dirt. Citizens need to evolve conscious efforts to promote environmental cleanliness and discipline and  be part of solution provision instead of  problem-creation. No amount of environmental laws can yield desired impact if the people do not inculcate culture that promotes and sustains safe environment.

  NATIONAL Light is equally of the view that ugly narratives of loss of lives to rainwater flood can be halted with good sense of judgement on the part of individuals. People should be smart enough to know when it is unsafe to use the road, and learn to exercise enough patience when necessary.

  WHILE the occasion calls on government to begin spade work on expansion of drainage facilities across major areas of the state, road signs should be provided at necessary points to guide new users of roads where danger lurks. However, it is the duty of citizens to apply discretion in averting avoidable death as the rains last this season, given that no matter the compelling attention needed on roads now, meaningful work cannot be done to that effect until after the rainy season. Therefore,  caution should be applied in the meantime to avert further tragedies.

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