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Concerns in flood-prone areas as Cameroon opens the Lagdo Dam



Some governments announced yesterday that they had begun taking preparations to prevent the tide of severe floods that could follow from the release of water from Cameroon’s Lagdo dam.

The Cameroonian government alerted the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, in a letter sent over the weekend, of its intention to release water from the Lagdo dam and asked the agency to take preventative steps.

However, states, some of which are on the front lines of floods caused by dam discharge, claimed they had already begun taking preparations to avert loss of life and property harm. These states, which include Lagos, Benue, and Delta, have also advised residents of flood-prone areas to migrate to higher ground.

LASEMA is fully prepared.

Responding to the Cameroon government’s alert yesterday, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA, assured of the state government’s readiness to deal with any potential emergency that may arise as a result of the impending flood in the state.

According to him, the state government has given LASEMA with 144 facilities capable of housing 5,000 internally displaced persons, or IDPs, in the event of an emergency.

“Lagos is well prepared,” he stated. As can be seen, LASEMA’s focus has shifted from management to holistic emergency management.

What we mean is that we have moved on to a better method of clearing canals and ensuring local governments have a local response, known as Environmental Guard.

“The goal is to ensure effective tertiary drainage clearing and environmental gang secondary drainage clearing, which complement each other.”

“We met with the 57 local government chairmen to discuss the importance of putting all primary emergency responders on alert.” We are improving and fortifying our local response mechanism.

”We conducted risk analysis, resource mappings, and opened directories in each council to identify vulnerable people in an emergency situation. All of these procedures are designed to ensure a quick, efficient, and effective reaction.

“Across the councils, we are carrying out enlightenment and sensitization programmes to prepare residents.”

“Flash floods, which we have in Lagos, disappear within 30 minutes to an hour due to improved infrastructure and machinery in place.” We are ready.”

The government of Benue has ordered citizens to leave floodplains and blocked drainages.

In response, the Benue State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, urged all residents of flood plains throughout the state to relocate to safer areas. Sir James Iorpuu, the agency’s Executive Secretary, issued the warning yesterday in response to the Federal Government’s warning to states about an impending flood, following notification from Cameroonian authorities of the release of water from the Lagdo dam on the Benue River due to heavy rains in Northern Cameroon.

Speaking through the agency’s Head of Administration, Mr. Donald Komgbebda, the executive secretary stated that the agency is stepping up its awareness campaign to get people ready for the impending flood.

“What we are doing now is intensifying the awareness campaign across the state to ensure that all those on flood plains leave such areas,” he explained.

“We also have plans to take steps to reduce the impact of the flood on people, but for the time being, the priority is to get people to safer places.”

“However, we have contingency plans in place, and we will not subject our people to unimaginable hardship as a result of the flood.”

”All stakeholders in the situation will be mobilised to guarantee that all hands are on deck to reduce the impact of the impending flood.”

Governor Hyacinth Alia recently urged everyone on the banks of the Benue River and in the flood plains to leave.

The governor, who spoke while flagging off the distribution of food and nonfood items donated by the National Emergency Management Agency,2022 flood disaster in the state, also urged residents to immediately begin cleaning gutters and waterways to help mitigate the effects of the flood.

Delta government will not hesitate to establish IDP camps.

Similarly, the Delta State administration stated that it is taking proactive measures to limit the effects of flooding in the state, and that it will not hesitate to establish internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the case of catastrophic floods.

“We are already opening drainages and demolishing illegal structures blocking the waterways,” stated Sir Festus Ahon, Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor.

“We believe and hope that opening up the drainages will help to mitigate the effects of the flood.” Those who live in coastal communities, on the other hand, should begin to relocate to higher ground.

”As it stands now, the state government will not hesitate to build up IDP camps for flood victims if necessary.” The Bayelsa government has asked the Federal Government to come to the states’ aid.

Similarly, Mr Daniel Alabrah, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State, stated, “As a government, we have opened major canals and water channels.”

”Because of our experience last year, the governor also established a flood and erosion control directorate, which has recently begun operations.”

He encouraged the Federal Government, however, to take the required actions to assist states in combating the flood threat rather than simply issuing alerts.

“We cannot dredge the rivers because of the NIWA Act, which vests such power in the Federal Government,” he said. The impact on states will be modest if the federal government does its share by dredging the rivers Benue and Niger.

”The Federal Government must play critical roles. It is insufficient for the federal government to issue warnings or advisories to states.

”You know we don’t have the resources to deal with this, but the state government is currently undertaking coastline protection work in some localities.”

Meanwhile, in a letter written by the Director of African Affairs, Umar Salisu, the Cameroonian government stated that the decision to open the Lagdo Dam is to reduce the level of water generated by Cameroon’s frequent rain.

It advised NEMA to take prompt preventive steps and sensitise residents in the affected areas in order to mitigate any harm caused by the flooding.

“I have the honour to inform the ministry that the ministry has received a Note Verbale from the High Commission of the Republic of Cameroon informing that Cameroonian officials have resolved to open the flood gates of the Lagdo Dam on the Benue River in the coming days, due to heavy rainfall around the dam catchment area in Northern Cameroon,” the letter said.

“According to the Note, when water release becomes necessary, the Lagdo Dam authorities will release only modulated variable small amounts of water at a time in order to mitigate and avoid damages that the released water may cause along the River Benue basin in both Cameroon and Nigeria.”

“In light of the foregoing, it would be appreciated if the esteemed agency takes all necessary proactive steps and actions to mitigate the damage as well as sensitise the populace living in such areas to the importance of vigilance and all necessary precautions.”

The Cameroonian government also advised inhabitants in the impacted areas to keep calm and follow the authorities’ instructions.

We’ve since notified the authorities, and it’s up to them to take action — NEMA

In response to the letter, NEMA stated that the notice is not new, noting that it had previously alerted state governors of impending floods, including those caused by the Lagdo Dam.

Manzo Ezekiel, NEMA’s spokesperson, stated that it is time for the affected state governors to take action and secure lives and property in partnership with NEMA. “There was a specific letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed to the DG NEMA, and NEMA is the recipient of that publication,” he explained. The communication did not catch us off guard and has not taken us by surprise.

“We anticipated a situation like this in our preparation for flood mitigation and response this year.”

This year, we planned for a possible water release in all of our flood management programmes and actions.

”As a result, NEMA has written to all state governments, including the governors of the frontline states that are likely to be affected by the discharge of this water from Lagdo Dam.

“So what has happened now is just a way of confirming our programme, and the time has come for us to tell the governments of the states that are likely to be impacted to match all of the awareness information we have given them with actions, so that people who live along the river areas can begin to plan their relocation.”

”This is due to the fact that the water release causes the river bank to flood.

As a result, NEMA is prepared, and we have been preparing for a long time.”

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