By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.
Against the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMET) prediction of imminent flooding in 2023, the Hydro-Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) has organised a Stakeholders Consultative meeting to evolve proactive measures to mitigate the likely effects.
Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yelwa, Managing Director of HYPPADEC who disclosed this during the meeting at Government House, Lokoja said little timely interventions could save a lot of lives and resources.
The meeting had the state Ministries of Environment, traditional rulers, Local Government Council Chairmen and farmers representatives in attendance.
He said that as direct victims of the the perennial floods, the chiefs, Council Chairmen and the farmers knew the negative impact of flooding and where it pinched most and should be able to proffer workable solutions.
The Managing Director warned riverine communities and all stakeholders not to treat NiMET predictions with levity saying that they were based on scientific findings and result of critical investigations.
The “Katukan Yauri” said that 80 to 85 per cent of NiMET predictions in the last five years had always been accurate and “Since we know we have this problem, I think it’s time we start talking to ourselves, mobilising and educating our communities to prepare for the possible onslaught.
“We’re trying to finalize working on our GIS Lab which will enable us generate flood vulnerability maps, flood extent maps and flood forecasts so that when we receive forecasts from NiMET we can ascertain.
“We we are also having our own in-house report that we can compare with NiMET reports and prove to you the communities, the need to be proactive”, he said.
He said that Afforestation was one of the cardinal aspects of the Commission’s interventions under the Operations Department adding that the Governing Council had approved a sizeable sum for afforestation this year.
The Egena Atta-Igala title holder also assured that the construction of approved houses for flood victims in Ibaji, Mozum, Karara and Edeha community living under the Murtala Muhammad Bridge, was on course.
He pointed out that the HYPPADEC was prepared to intervene in communities with serious ecological and drainage issues but was hampered by the size of resources at its disposal.
“But one commitment I want to make here and now is, we are prepared to partner with any Local Government that has a budget of N50 million for the control of erosion and drainages.
“When we check the design and the bills and we are satisfied, we are prepared to finance such projects by 60 per cent but they must contribute their 40 per cent down.
“Once they are able to do that we are prepared to pay 60 per cent on behalf of the commission so that our communities will feel the impact of our presence and we also feel the impact of the partnership between the Local Government and HYPPADEC”, he said.
Governor Yahaya Bello represented by the state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Victor Adewale Omofaiye, said government had decided to embark on Afforestation as part of measures to address the flood.
The Atta Igala, Matthew Opaluwa Oguche-Akpa represented by Eje of Ibaji, Ajofe John Egwemi, appealed to HYPPADEC to appeal to the Federal Government to dredge the Rivers Niger and Benue and build dams to address the flood challenges. (Ends)