The Imo State Government has disclosed that plans are being concluded to pull down all structures encroaching on waterways and restore the original masterplan of Owerri, the capital city, to aid the seamless flow of water into rivers.
It explained that the planned exercise was not to render residents homeless but as part of measures to restore the city masterplan and tackle flood-related issues and other emerging challenges.
The State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, said that the demolition would give the water access to flow into Otamiri River among others, and reduce the incidence of flooding.
The Governor, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Cosmos Iwu, when a delegation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on advocacy visit met the state government, said that his administration had carried out series of sensitisation programmes in the state aimed at preparing the people for emergencies and called for the agency’s support.
“We are appealing to NEMA to assist us because the environmental impact of the flood in Imo is bigger than us. We have been doing our best and we will continue to do our best. We have received some relief items from NEMA but we are asking for more. We also commend your visit to Imo, it shows serious commitment on the side of NEMA,” the governor said.
On his part, the Director-General of NEMA, AVM Mohammed Mohammed (rtd.), appealed to the state government and major disaster stakeholders to demonstrate greater commitment toward disaster management.
Mohammed, who was represented by Deputy Director (Accounts) in the agency, Abdul-Aziz Jibrin, said that the visit was to ascertain the level of preparedness by Imo government in case of any disaster after predictions by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency that Imo was among the states in Nigeria likely to witness flooding in 2020
The NEMA boss said that Imo had shown capacity in disaster management in the past and urged Gov. Hope Uzodimma to show more commitment in mitigating floods and other disasters in the state.
“We are here on advocacy visit and awareness campaign to sensitise the people on the need to be prepared at all times. I am assuring Imo of NEMA’s full commitment to partner with the government and disaster stakeholders in the area of disaster management,” he said.
Mohammed listed Ohaji-Egbema, Ogutta, Oru-East, and Owerri North as highly probable flood risk local government areas in the state, stressing that there was need for the government to ensure regular sensitisation of the people.
“We have interacted with all the disaster stakeholders and government and I can assure you that we are satisfied with their level of preparedness. But they must not relent in showing commitment at all times,” Mohammed said.