The Management of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has called for effective use of water from various dams in the country to reduce constant flooding and boost food production.
Muhammadu Mohammed, the Director General of NEMA, made the call during a Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2020 Flood Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness and Humanitarian Services held in Lagos on Thursday.
Mohammed, who was represented by the Director Planning, Research and Forecasts of NEMA, Mr Kayode Fagbemi, said that all the agency efforts in appealing to the Dam managers to release water before the rain proved abortive.
He said that they got alert from Ogun/Osu Dam Managements that the dam was full and they would start releasing million of cubic litres to Lagos and Ogun from July till November.
“Although, the dam Managements gave warning but the warning was coming late when we are already in rainy season.
“The management of the dams should convert the use of the water from dams for irrigation because if they utilise the water there will not be scarcity of foods,” Mohammed said.
He urged the House of Representatives Committee on Disaster and Emergency, to support them in ensuring the water from dams were utilised adequately to improve food production and reduce flooding in the country.
Mohammed said that the House Committee should call all the dam managers and other stakeholders for brain storming in providing lasting solutions to the flood challenges.
He said that most of our dams were contributing to the problem of flooding in Nigeria.
The Lagos state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Tunji Bello, said the Nigeria Meteorological Service (NiMet) forecast early this year predicted that Lagos State will experience a rainy season of 240-270 days of rainfall this year.
“We have already gone through June, July and now in August, but more rainfall is expected in September.
“According to the data provided by the Nigerian Hydrological Services (NHS), the month of June is usually the period of effective rainfall and the beginning of a new hydrological year.
“The River Niger Basin covers nine countries such as Benin, Burkina Fasso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote-D’Voire, Guiness, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
“Nigeria is downstream of all the Basin. The months of July, August, September and October are also known as JOSA months, signifying heavy rainfall, flooding and flood disasters in most parts of the country.
“The floods are often aggravated by the trains boundary inflow of River Niger and Benue from outside the country before they empty into the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria,” Bello said.
Bello, who was represented by a Director from the Ministry, Mrs Lanke Taiwo, said that states like Ogun, Kwara, Rivers and Lagos experienced heavy rainfall, which led to flooding.
He added that while the above states suffered from urban and river flooding, Lagos was at the receiving end due to peculiarities of its location.
Bello said that the Ogun-Osun River Basin Management had released five million cubic litres of water in July, and would also release between eight and 10 million cubic litres in August.
He said that a total of 18 million cubic litres would be released in September, while 23 million cubic litres would be released also in October being the peak.
The commissioner said that statistics released by authorities of Oyan Dam indicated that residents of Kosofe, Ajegunle, Owode Onirin, Isheri North, Agboyi Ketu, Giliti should be at alert whenever it rains and whenever water was released by the dam.
Bello stated that the government had provided additional pumping stations in some low lying areas with risks of high intensity rains in readiness for the heavy rainfall predicted in September.
Also in his remarks, the Head of the Federal Fire Service (FFS), Joshua Yauj, said the service had been supporting Lagos State Government in disaster management, adding that the service would continued collaborating with other sister agencies in the country.
Also speaking the Asst. Chief Fire Officer, of the Lagos State Fire Service, Mr Olukotun Odunayo, said that flash flooding was caused by human error due to improper management of waste disposal.
The representative of Lagos State Water Authority (LASWA), Asst. Head of Operations, Mr Ibrahim Oladayo, said that they had ensured the use of life jackets on ferry operators as well and passengers.
The Head of Marine Operations of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr Stanley Onuoha, said the authority had enlightened and regulated both ferry and boat operators to ensure proper operation.
In his opening remarks, the Acting Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, commended the cooperation and synergy between them and stakeholders in maritime, aviation, and land which had been very coordinated.
Farinloye said that Management of Ogun/Osun River Basin Commission had informed all stakeholders of the gradual release of about 75 million Cubic litres of water between July and November.
He said that the Basin managers had said that the water might affect many communities in Lagos State, while the Lagos State Government had been doing its best in mitigating the effect on about 2 communities in Ikorodu and Kosofe Local Communities areas.
Farinloye urged other stakeholders to be ready for the tougher times, adding that disasters do not wait for one incident to be concluded before another one occurs.
He explained that they received challenges from NIWA, other stakeholders such as frequent fire outbreak, building collapse and other issues that we would had to content with going forward.
The Sector Head, Lagos, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Mr Mathew Zango, said that their primary objective was to attend to emergency road crashes on Nigeria roads.
Zango said Lagos had estimated of 4,000 square meters of space with over 21 million people, adding that 30 per cent of the meters were waters, while 30 per cent of Nigerian vehicles were driven in Lagos.
He said that there were constant gridlock in Lagos and they usually experience challenge during operation, while he pleaded with the representative to look into the challenge.
After listed to the stakeholders, the Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Disaster and Emergency, Hon. Olatunji Olawuyi, commended the strong collaboration among the disaster management agencies in tackling disaster in Lagos.
Olawuyi urged NEMA to include agric sector in the subsequent stakeholders meeting to find adequate use of the water from the dam storage for irrigation and provide sufficient food in the country.
He said that Government would improved on preparation to the prediction of heavy downpour to mitigate lost of lives and property.
Olawuyi said that when the committee get back to Abuja that they would work on the challenges in other to improve on disaster management in the country.
He, however, urged stakeholders to improve on their manpower but they could call for support from NEMA after putting in their best.
Olawuyi asked the Lagos State Government to improve on enforcement in ensuring that residents operate within the guidelines and regulations by not encroaching the setback and riverine areas.
He appealed to car users to usually give way to emergency responders to move when need be, to reduce lost of lives and ensure speed of disaster rescuing