The flood that ravaged most parts of Rivers State, especially Port Harcourt, the state capital, from Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, July 23, 2017, has effectively displaced over 20,000 persons in the different parts of the city. Properties worth several millions raging from household appliances to business premises have also been lost to the disaster.
Owners of properties around the affected areas are currently lamenting the mass exodus of their tenants and business owners owing to the flood that has claimed one life at Uyo Street, Mile 1, Diobu, due to electrocution.
Worst hit are the state headquarters of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) by Kaduna Street Flyover along Aba Road, Wonodi Street in GRA Phase 3, Awka Street, Mile 1, Diobu, Port Harcourt Gardens by Cherubim Road, Mile 3, Diobu, Oloibiri Street, Abana Street, Old GRA, Sangana Street, Peter Odili Road, and D/Line.
Others are Nkpogu, Elekahia, Rumuolumeni, Rukpokwu, Rumuigbo, Nkpolu, Atali, and Eneka communities and St. John's area near Garrison, Aba Road.
The flood disaster has caused an outrage in the city as residents have continued to flay the state government for its obvious failure to manage the environment properly. This anger was not even abated despite the prompt response of the governor, Nyesom Wike, who went under the rains to inspect the level of damage done by the flood.
Wike, who was accompanied during the inspection by Julius Berger engineers and officials of the state ministry of works, empathized with residents of Port Harcourt, promised to tackle the environmental challenge headlong.
He directed the immediate desilting of all major canals in the city, while advising residents to stop dumping refuse in water channels as these go to block the free flow of water and cause flooding to happen.
Some residents of Port Harcourt have castigated the state government for not being alive to its responsibilities of managing the environmental challenges facing the state especially flooding.
One of them, Ikenda Elechi, in a Facebook post, blamed the Wike led administration for not carrying out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the land reclamation project at Ogbum-nu-Abali community or assigning qualified and certified project officers or monitoring team to monitor the project.
Another resident, Patterson Ogon said structures built up by the estate developers have blocked water channels making free flow of water difficult.
A Yenagoa based environmentalist, Alagoa Morris flayed those acquiring and enveloping properties without consideration for the environment. He warned against neglecting environmental best practices to safeguard the city and other parts of the state.
He bemoaned the lack of continuum on the part of the government in sustaining efforts at building drainage systems across the city of Port Harcourt.
“Over the years, we cannot say enough, deliberate effort has been given to environmental issues. Whatever has been done, more needs to be done; beyond refuse evacuation. Development is a continuum and, incoming administrations should build on what their predecessors have done.”
TNN checks reveal that the storm water drainages done by the administration of former governor, Rotimi Amaechi along Ikwerre Road, NTA/Choba, Ada George, Elekahia, and other major roads in the state capital have yet to be terminated in major water bodies around the city.
Worse still, these drainages were not being interconnected by the current administration in the state. All the roads being rehabilitated by the Wike led government lack drainage systems. Efforts by TNN to get explanations from the state ministry of works, water resources or urban development proved abortive as no official of these ministries was willing to talk on the issue.