Residents of Yenagoa, the capital city of Bayelsa State, are currently gripped with apprehension in the aftermath of intense rainfall that triggered sudden floods across various neighborhoods on Monday.

Flood claims 16-year-old in Bayelsa, victims cry for help

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Bayelsa, identified by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) as susceptible to heavy rains and flooding, has seen its fears materialize as residents face the brunt of inadequate preparations.

In numerous affected areas, inhabitants express dismay over what they perceive as insufficient governmental assurances regarding their safety amidst the looming threat of flooding. In Okaka, for instance, blame is squarely placed on the subpar drainage systems which failed to cope with the deluge, resulting in rapid inundation.

Tam Odoki, a local resident, voices a plea for proactive measures from the authorities, urging swift implementation of mitigation strategies before homes are submerged. Meanwhile, in Swali, off Aeroplane Road, residents lament a partially obstructed canal exacerbating their plight, with grievances over authorities’ delayed responses to longstanding issues.

Mike Igodo, a resident affected by the floods, recalls previous efforts by the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to highlight these challenges during independent inspections, yet bemoans the lack of concrete actions taken since then.

The impact spans across various neighborhoods including Ruthmour Street, Edepie, Azikoro Town, Dimrose, Saptex off Fido Road, and Green Villa, where residents recount harrowing experiences of inundation.

Pastor Ignatius, residing on Ruthmour Street, criticizes the sluggish response of the Bayelsa State Government in addressing the community’s needs, pointing out prolonged appeals dating back to January for effective flood prevention measures.

He reserves sharp criticism for the Bayelsa State Flood Committee and the State Emergency Agency, accusing them of lethargy in preparing residents for the imminent 2024 flood season.

In contrast, amidst the residents’ outcry, the state government has moved to reassure citizens, emphasizing its continued commitment to their welfare. Commissioner for Environment, Ebi Ben Ololo, conveyed the government’s sympathy for those affected, pledging concerted efforts to mitigate flood impacts and bolster resilience in vulnerable areas.

“I am deeply troubled by the recent flash floods that have impacted several regions within our state,” stated Commissioner Ololo on behalf of the administration. “The heavy rains have inflicted hardship and disruption upon many of you, and I want to assure you that we are standing by your side during this challenging period.”

He further affirmed the administration’s dedication under the leadership of Senator Douye Diri, promising proactive measures and personal visits to affected areas to gauge the situation firsthand.

“Your safety remains our utmost priority,” assured Commissioner Ololo, urging citizens to remain vigilant and assured of their government’s proactive stance in confronting these challenges head-on.