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Now, the rains are here

Published by The Nation on Tue, 04 May 2021

The Nigerian Meterological Agency (NIMET) had warned of the risks ahead of the rainy season. How well are states prepared to prevent disasters usually associated with perennial rainfalls' OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE reports.Naturally, rainy season is a period of blessings because of the attendant benefits it packs along. For instance, for the farmers, it brings them hope of a bountiful harvest at the end of the planting season. By extension, this is a guarantee that there will be an abundance of food for the teeming population of a country.The rainy season is also a time looked forward to by residents of temperate regions. It is a time when they savour the joy of living given the days are usually cool. But, for some others, rainy season comes with mixed feelings. For most residents of urban and sub-urban areas, the rains come with a burdenthe stark reality of an uncared for environment. Its effect is usually felt by residents of obscure places, slums and shanties, whose areas are prone to flooding.Yet, for others, the season comes with the burden of responsible refuse management and continuous silt and drainage clearance. This was why the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said it would map out vulnerable communities in response to the Seasonal Climate Predictions report.NEMAs Director-General AVM Muhammadu Muhammed (rtd) said the move, which would be in form of early warning messages, would assist State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and others to take proactive risk reduction actions.The impact of these hazards on lives, property and environment depends on our level of preparedness, which to a large extent depends on efficient early warning systems. The early warning messages which will be developed will prepare state governors, SEMAs, Local Emergency Management Committees and others to facilitate risk reduction mechanisms in their communities, he said.According to him, NEMA would continue to map out vulnerable communities based on predictions by climate risk monitoring agencies to enhance and direct enlightenment campaign in critical states. Muhammed applauded stakeholders for their co-operation, collaboration and partnership in the management of disasters in the country.Similarly, the Deputy Director, Planning, Research and Forecasting, NEMA, Mrs. Fatima Kasim, said the workshop was organised to interpret the various implications of the climate prediction.Kasim said participants were required to make recommendations on how to prepare for, propose mitigative actions and response to the expected impact of the predicted rainfall pattern especially, flooding.It further predicted below-normal rainfall totals over a few places in the Northwest, including Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Kano states.Cloudy skies are expected over the inland cities of the South with chances of thunderstorms over parts of Ogun State in the morning hours. The coastal cities of the South are expected to be cloudy with chances of thunderstorms over Lagos, Delta and Bayelsa in the morning hours, it said.Responding to the predictions, the Lagos State Government said it had concluded arrangements to have its own network of weather stations to monitor the climate as well as increase its preparedness for weather-related issues.The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, who stated this at a briefing on the year 2021 Seasonal Climate Predictions (SCP) at Alausa, informed residents that the state would experience normal rainfall of between 238-261 days this year. He assured that adequate measures were already in place to contain any eventuality, stating that the Maximum Annual Rainfall for 2021 was predicted to be 1,747mm. He maintained that the state government was set to ensure a flood-free and hygienic environment during the season.He noted that the state was collaborating with NiMET not only in the areas of Annual Seasonal Climate Prediction but also in downscaling the predictions to stakeholders.Bello said the Seasonal Climate Prediction for Lagos State indicated outset dates that ranged between March 17 and April 6, while the season-ending was predicted to be between November 30 and December 5.According to him, Ikeja is expected to experience about 261 days of rainfall with a total amount of 1,392mm and the rainfall outset date of March 17 as it already witnessed while the cessation date is expected to be December 3.Lagos Island is to have a rainfall outset date of April 6, while its cessation date is expected to be November 30. It is also expected that Lagos Island would have about 238 days of rainfall and about 1,627mm of rainfall this year.It is also expected that the increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicate that 2021 would likely experience days with extremely high rainfall amounts which may result in flooding, he stated.Bello said the Emergency Flood Abatement Gangs (EFAG) of the ministry had been de-silting and working on various linkages to the secondary and primary channels to enable them discharge efficiently and act as retention basins.He said to forestall the incidence of the collapse of telecommunication masts, occasioned by the high velocity of the wind, expected during the rains, Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) had been put on the alert to ensure advertising and communication agencies complied with regulations on the safety of billboards and telecommunication masts.Special Adviser on Drainage Services and Water Resources, Joe Igbokwe, who made this known, said the government planned to dredge about 221 collector drains, 32 primary channels measuring about 72km across the 20 local government areas of the state to checkmate flooding.He added that EFAG would also de-silt various tertiary channels and manholes measuring about 100km across the state.In a related development, the state government set May date for sanitation competition among local governments (LGs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).Bello said the competition was brought back to reawaken the consciousness of every resident with local governments serving as the pivot of the campaign. He explained that since the programme suffered a setback in 2017, through a court stoppage of the monthly environmental sanitation, everyone has let down their guard, thus, aggravating various environmental issues.He stated that part of the benefits derivable was a healthy competition on sanitation and hygiene practices among communities, markets and LGs/LCDAs.Others are improvement in the environmental conditions of the state, especially highways, roads and streets, markets and schools.Bello said the competition would take input of actors in the communities, including local government chairmen, community leaders, traditional rulers, transport unions and market leaders.He informed that an assessment committee which would start work next month had been constituted, with membership drawn from the Environment Ministry and Local Government and Community Affairs and other relevant MDAs, to inspect public utilities.The assessment committee will also inspect the aesthetics of the scheduled Local Governments /LCDAs and the commitment of each to environmental management. This is in line with governments belief that keeping the environment, especially markets and drains, clean would help check flooding.Bello listed some of the criteria for the assessment of each LG/LCDA to include culture of bagging refuse, clean and flowing drains, LAWMA PSP patronage and vegetal control.Others are markets cleanliness, landscaping and beautification of LG/LCDA secretariat, control of illegal structures, shanties, black spots, illegal refuse dumps, encroachment on drainage setbacks, street trading, abandoned buildings, land and property.
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