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Monday, December 4, 2023

FG tells states to prepare for ravaging floods

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The Federal Government has advised state governments to prepare against floods following an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, and the Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello Muhammad Goronyo, disclosed this at a press briefing in Abuja on Saturday.

“The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has noted an increase in the volume of flow along the River Benue system, registering a flow level of 8.97m as of today.

“This is compared to a flow level of 8.80m on the same date in 2022. Meanwhile, the flow level on the River Niger system remains stable, with the level of the River Niger at Niamey, Niger Republic, standing at a normal level of 4.30m.

“Reports from inland dams, including Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro, also indicate a consistent flow regime,” Utsev said.

The minister said it was important for states to prepare since the country was already witnessing heavy rainfall.

He added, “In light of the aforementioned factors, it is imperative for all levels of government—federal, state, and local—to heighten the level of preparedness and deploy appropriate measures to minimise the potential impact of flooding during the peak of the rainy season.

“There should be sensitisation of the general public by the states on the need for people living along the river banks to relocate to higher ground during this peak period of rainfall. States and local governments should intensify efforts in clearing blocked drainages and also construct new ones where they do not exist.

While advocating the removal of illegal structures constructed within the floodplains, he urged the general public, especially road users, to desist from walking or driving through any pool of water or flood.

He, however, noted that “as of today, there is no threat to lives or properties, especially in those states that are contiguous to the rivers Niger and Benue.”

On the situation at Lokoja, the minister stated that despite the heightened flow volume along the River Benue system, the flow situation at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in Lokoja, Kogi State, remained within normal parameters.

“The flow level at the monitoring station downstream of the confluence records 7.8m today, compared to 8.24m on the same date in 2022.”
Recognising Nigeria’s downstream position in relation to the nine-member countries of the Niger River Basin, Utsev said it was important to acknowledge the period of heavy rainfall, flooding, and flood-related disasters that typically occurred in July, August, September, and October.

He added, “Dam water releases are integral to safeguarding dam integrity and mitigating flooding in adjacent communities.

“NIHSA has, however, maintained a professional and organisational relationship with Cameroon’s National Hydrological Services to exchange information on water releases.”

The minister said there was no immediate threat of flooding, calling on the government at all levels to put measures in place to prevent flood emergencies.

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