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Monday, 2 September 2019

Living in Abuja, Nigeria's flood capital



A flooded road
Anthony Okwecheme left his home for the office on Friday, August 3, 2019. Little did anyone know that he would not return. A husband and father, Okwecheme was the director of finance at the Federal Capital Territory High Court.
It's been raining for days. Poor drainage system and construction work on some major roads in Abuja won't allow for free flow of water.
On his way to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in his official 2017 Toyota Camry, his vehicle is stalled in flood water at Galadimawa Roundabout, Abuja.
While other Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) made their way through the floor water, Okwecheme and his driver were stuck as attempts to restart the car failed.
The director and his driver were said to have made their way to the top of the car as the rain and flood water increased. After hours of calling for help with no assistance, flood water began sweeping away both men.
Okwecheme's car after the incident [Punch]
Okwecheme's body was found in the muddy flood water died on the spot while his driver was rescued by some Nigerians at the scene of the incident.
Eye witnesses blamed the Okwecheme's death on the failure of the FCT Emergency Management Agency. They accused officials of the agency of nonchallance.
“When I got to the scene, I saw the men shouting for help, so we went into the water but we could only save the driver as the flood swept away the other man. The officials were around but they didn’t participate in the rescue effort,” Abdul Rauf said.
Again on Friday, August 2, 2019, one person was killed and many injured due to flooding in the Galadimawa area -- about fifteen minutes drive from the city center.
On Thursday, July 25, 2019, early morning showers grounded commercial activities and sacked residents of Efab Estate, Lokogoma. Many houses were reportedly washed away at Lungi Barracks.
The rain, which started as early as 6:00 am, lasted for several hours and wreaked havoc on some parts of the city. Many residents were rendered homeless with property worth millions destroyed.
This years, residents of the FCT have experienced some of the worst flood in the nation's history with many displaced.
But, it has not always been so.

Why Abuja is experiencing flooding

Buildings affected by flood.
Experts have blamed the incessant flood situation in Abuja on the climate change and the indiscriminate building on waterways and flood plains.
An environmentalist, Michael Eze, tells khorgist that most residents of the capital city have distorted the master-plan thereby endangering their lives and that of others.
"Those who created Abuja many years back designed the city in such a way that the city would be safe foe everyone. But, due to greed, some fraudulent individuals have sold lands in areas meant to be waterways to people. When it rains, water must find its way," Ezeh said.
"Also, you must not forget some of the effects of climate change. It is also contributes to some of the flooding you see in Abuja and other parts of the country and the world. More than ever before, we need to take our environment more seriously so we can have a place to live," he added.

The way forward

The Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) believes the pulling down structures blocking the waterway is the only solution to the flood situation in Abuja.
Permanent Secretary of the FCT, Christian Ohaa, says over 150 houses have so far been pulled down with many to go.The FCT Administration will continue to remove structures constructed in violation of relevant laws and further complicate our flood risk. So far, 150 of such  structures have been removed in furtherance of the ongoing exercise to clear obstructions of waterways, in line with the Abuja city plan,” Ohaa said.
Experts have also advised residents to ensure proper disposal of wastes. Also, officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have a lot of work to do with regards to timely waste collection.
The FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, was not exactly good at his job the first time. Residents expect a better outing, especially with regards to the day-to-day running of the city, this time.

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