From all indications this year will be a very wet one considering that we are only a few weeks into the New Year and already we are seeing signs of heavy precipitation across the country, even though we are still supposed to be in the dry season.
And if recent experiences of motorists, commuters and even residents are anything to go by following the early onset of rains, then those in authority at federal, state and local government levels have a lot to do if they are save citizens from the effects of heavy downpours.
Not too long ago, a heavy downpour in Lagos, the second to have occurred this year, led to the flooding of sections of the Oworonshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge leading to heavy gridlock brought about by the necessity of vehicles to slow down to successfully navigate the water.
The build-up around the pool of water was so severe that the gridlock backed up all the way past the Berger area of the metropolis along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway causing untold hardship for drivers, passengers and commuters.
Drivers and commuters told tales of woe after spending hours on the road for journeys which normally should not have been less than one hour.
The major cause of the Oworonshoki flooding, which was the genesis of the traffic nightmare along the ever busy route, was the fact that the drainages meant to evacuate the flood waters generated by the heavy down pour were completely blocked, which consequently meant the waters had nowhere to go but to spill onto the road with devastating effect.
Being a federal road, ideally the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, should have, before now in anticipation of the rainy season, deployed men and resources to clear the blocked drains and gutters to ensure that the Oworonshoki flooding did not occurred in the first instance, since the debris would have been removed and the water would have been able to flow freely.
The clearance action, however, should not be limited to the Oworonshoki section of the major road artery in Lagos State but as a matter of urgency be taken on all roads belonging to the Federal Government as we will soon be entering the rainy season when more frequent deluges are expected to happen across the country.
The Federal Controller of Works should immediately as a matter of urgent necessity undertake the inspection of other sites across the country where heavy rains usually take place so that he will know if such places also need to have their drainages cleared and even repaired where necessary.
However, the state and local governments also have their part to play in tackling the menace of flooding since roads and paths also transverse through their territories, which means that at their various levels they too should expedite action on clearing drains and gutters.
Also canals, where a lot of the water cascades through in heading towards the see, should also by now have been cleared of weeds and any other debris hindering the free flow of water.
It is a bit worrisome, however, that it appears we have not learnt from what transpired across the nation at about this same time last year.
As at the end of January 2018, no fewer than 141 lives had been lost to rainstorm, wind storm and flood disasters across the country with at least 19,369 persons displaced on account of their 5,732 houses and sources of livelihood among others destroyed.
Reports showed that rainstorm and flood disasters in 2018 was the worst in the last six years after the 2012 floods that killed 363 people, displaced 2.1 million people and affected seven million people in 30 of the 36 states of the country, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
The economic losses in 2012 were put at N2.5 trillion. The seriousness of the 2012 flooding, referred to as the most harmful in the last 40 years, was attributed to a combination of two events: very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in neighbouring Republic of Cameroon.
Many will recall how many of the highbrow areas in the nation’s commercial capital, Lagos, including Lekki, Ajah and Lagos Island, were inundated with flood waters prompting the state government to promise to tackle the problem.
Although the rains have begun to fall, we still believe that there is enough time for work to be carried out before the onset of the rainy season proper; while efforts should also be made to enlighten the citizens on the damaging effects of clogging waterways with their refuse.
All efforts must be made by both government and citizens to ensure that the nation does everything humanely possible to mitigate the effects of possible flooding this year so as to not only save properties, farmlands and livestock; but most importantly lives.