Boat mishaps; HYPADEC, NIWA sets to uproot trees, rocks on waterways.
God’swill Ojodomo Lokoja
Against the backdrop of incessant boat mishaps on the inland waterways, the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC) in collaboration with NIWA have resolved to clear trees and rocks on the rights of ways of inland rivers across the country.
Alhaji Isah Ozi Salami the representative of Kogi State who is also a Commissioner in the Commission , disclosed this on Wednesday at Government House Lokoja during a stakeholders town hall meeting involving Bassa, Ibaji, Lokoja , Kogi/Koton-Karfe and Ofu local government areas on how to develop strategies to tackle floodings and incessant boat accidents in the riverine areas.
He noted that the clearing of trees and rocks became imperative to avert boat mishaps that has claimed many lives along riverine areas in Kogi, Kwara, Niger and Kebbi states saying the recent boat mishaps at Yauri in Kebbi state where over 200 people lost their lives calls for concern.
Ozi Salami urged boat users to always wear safety jackets as a precautionary measures to avoid unnecessary death on waterways .
“What we want to do now is to see how we can remove some of the shrubs , trees that grow along the riverine beds so that we can avoid future boat mishaps because it is better to prevent such incident from happening .
“We want to also make sure the people entering the boats take precaution by wearing safety jacket while on the boats to safe life whenever such mishap occurred .
“Safety on the waterways is very important and we will not take that with levity and right now along river Niger we are doing some survey on some of the trees we will remove.
“In view of this effort, the NIWA has also declared their readiness to break rocks that can constitute hazard to boats
“I am advising communities along the riverine areas in Kogi State to take all the necessary precautions so that what happened in Yauri , Kebbi state does not occur in the state. As a commission we will do our best to ensure that the needs of the people are met” he promised.
“When HYPADEC took off in March 2021, the Governing Council visited Governors of states under the purview of the commission and similar visits was extended to traditional rulers, women organizations and youth groups because we can not sit in the office and decide the flood affected communities” he said .
While expressing optimism that the commission would wipe away the perennial sorrow and worries of flood communities, the Kogi representative said HYPADEC can not succeed without the support of the stakeholders, appealing to them to give support and cooperation to the commission to discharge its responsibility to the riverine people.
He assured that the commission is striving hard to lay a solid foundation that would continue to pave ways for the development of communities along riverine areas in the state.
The representative of Kogi State Government at the meeting , the Commissioner for Environment Hon. Victor Omafaye explained that more than 200 ecological sites due to erosion have already been captured across the three senatorial district of the state, saying government is doing a lot to tackle the menace of erosion through effort of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in collaboration with World Bank.
He noted that the issue of protection of environment should be a general concern and warned people against indiscriminate dumping of refuse along water channels to avoid flooding during rainy season .
He commended HYPADEC for the stakeholders meeting and assured government support for the commission to achieve her plans and programmes for the state.
In his goodwill message the Ohimege of Koton-Karfe kingdom Alhaji Abdulrazak Isah -Koto, lamented that communities affected by flood in 2012 have not recovered after almost eleven years , appealing to the commission to do something to alleviate the suffering of the victims of flood who are mostly farmers and fisher men.
The Royal Father also solicited for construction of roads , continuous dredging of river Niger and Benue as well as provision of basic health facilities to critically address the challenges of flooding in the affected areas.