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, 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 to save citizens from the effects of these downpours.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a downpour in Lagos, 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.
The major cause of the Oworonshoki flooding, which was the genesis of the Sunday, January 13, traffic nightmare along the ever busy route, was the fact that the drainages meant to evacuate the flood waters generated by the downpour were completely blocked, which consequently forced the waters to spill onto the road with devastating effect.
Being a federal road, it is the business of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, to have, before now in anticipation of the rainy season, deployed men and resources to clear the blocked drains to ensure that the Oworonshoki flooding did not occur in the first instance.
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. The Federal Controller of Works should also clear other drainages cross the country.
This will go a long way in ensuring that commuters and drivers alike will not be caught in gridlock which can be very nightmarish for all those snared in it.
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 sea, should by now have been cleared of weeds and any other debris hindering the free flow of water.
It is a bit worrisome that we have not learnt from what transpired across the nation in 2018. As at the end of January 2018, no fewer than 141 lives had been lost to rainstorm, windstorm 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: heavy 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 flooded.
Beyond the efforts of governments at various levels to tackle the scourge, the people also have a big role to play in mitigating the effects of flooding by not dumping refuse in drainages.
Most times when flood waters have taken over the roads and residential buildings we often see plastic bottles, pure water sachets and other waste bubbling on top of the water. These wastes then clutter the roads when the water finally recedes not only leaving an eyesore but also environmental hazards.
Although the rains have begun, 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 refuse.
All efforts must be made by both government and citizens to ensure that the nation does everything humanly possible to mitigate the effects of possible flooding this year so as to not only save properties, farmlands and livestock, but most importantly lives.