Sunday, 4 October 2015

More Tears For Benue’s Flood Survivors

As for Isiaka Momoh and his  family of six who fled their Wadata vicinity to the camp two days after it was established, he described the efforts of the state government in providing them a befitting environment as commendable, but urged the provision of adequate toilets, bathrooms and refuse dump to meet the growing demands of the victims.

He also worried that his family lost their source of livelihood to the flood which submerged their grinding engine at the rice mill area of Wadata and now makes survival difficult for them.

On her part, Mrs. Nyior Gese with her seven children hopes to get a satisfying moment at the temporary shelter to calm their frayed nerves following the loss of personal effects to the flood. “We could not evacuate all our belongings,” she explained, adding that her children go to school while she goes back to Wurukum market to carry out her trading activities. She pointed out that food is a problem.
On the other hand, owners of the shops allocated for use by the displaced have accused the government of intimidation.

A shop owner who spoke to our correspondent, Iniongun Caleb Tersoo alleged that the government was breaking into people’s shops without their prior knowledge to remove their wares and give out the spaces to the flood victims. “If the government wants to use the market, then it should make alternative provision for shops that were already operational, like mine which I opened in March this year,” Tersoo posited.
According to him, owners of shops at the market only heard on radio that they should remove their wares and he asked angrily, “Is that how it should be?”

Daily Trust reports that the usage of the camp followed a directive issued by the state deputy governor, Engr. Benson Abounu that the market which is yet to commence commercial activities in earnest be made available for the flood victims.
Head of Information for SEMA, Peter Ipusu said that more people were trooping into the camp as a result of the continuing rise of River Benue’s water level occasioned by heavy rainfall.

Ipusu however dismissed the claim by one of the shop owners that the government was intimidating them out of the market, describing the complainer as being mischievous. “We made several announcements on radio to intimate the shop owners about the decision to use the market facility. We also took time to establish the shops that were already occupied and we break only into the ones that are empty.”

The spokesman however disclosed that the agency after a stakeholder’s meeting with relevant ministries and agencies in the state - which formed the flood committee - would ensure supply of water, improve on sanitary conditions and make food available for the victims.

He pointed out that the stakeholders’ meeting which just ended had directed relevant agencies, as well as ministries, to play their various roles, adding that though there is a water facility, it is not yet functional and the Ministry of Water Resources would immediately begin to supply sufficient water.

Ipusu continued that the sanitation agency has swung into action to clear the overgrown grasses within the vicinity and also put the 40 toilets located in the market to use by allotting 20 each to females and males even as more mobile toilets are expected to be provided. “Food items have also started coming in,” he revealed.

Commenting State Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Nick Wende said that the choice of the market came into consideration because its facilities were far better and of international standard, meeting the required guidelines of Internally Displaced Peoples’ camp (IDPs).

He further explained that the market is better than any primary school around and they have given the victims buckets, rice, toiletries, blankets and other relief materials. “I will prefer the market becomes a permanent IDPs camp because we have a modern market built twenty years ago that far befits status of international market than this one. It should be called a local market,” the commissioner opined.

Addressing the victims earlier, the agency’s executive secretary, Boniface Ortese said that SEMA had distributed relief materials to registered victims and would continue to register more people in the days ahead as well as allocate rooms. He added that if the pressure of families trooping into the camp becomes enduring, the agency would consider relocating some of the victims to another location.

Daily Trust reports that the International Market was built by former Governor Gabriel Suswam at the twilight of his administration and equipped with ultra-modern facilities consisting of 1040 fireproof shops. Other facilities in the market include motorized borehole, police post, restaurant, toll gate, public toilets, banking hall, a clinic, fire station as well as warehouses. For Mama Rachael Mende, a mother of four, the displaced peoples’ camp officially opened by the Benue State government last weekend no doubt provides a mild relief from the suffering she had encountered with her children over two weeks ago. The NIMET predicted flood disaster and it happened. It sacked them from their Abattoir home in Wurukum axis of Makurdi metropolis.

Mende, a firewood seller, initially relocated her children to Ikpayango village in Gwer East Local Government Area, from where she had to shuttle Makurdi on daily basis to cater for her family’s needs.
It has not been easy for her, especially because she had lost some few belongings to the flood. “Before the flood I traded in firewood from the confines of my one-room apartment,” she said.

She however expressed gratitude for the effort of the government in providing flood victims with a temporary shelter. This has helped her in no small way because her children would now resume school, even as they settle to the camp life. Blankets, buckets and mosquito nets were distributed to them by some visiting donor agencies, while the state government had ensured in the past few days that they are supplied with water and also improved on sanitary conditions at the new  Makurdi Ultra-Modern International Market which presently serves as a camp for the displaced.

Aside Mende, 10, and 922 others were displaced from Wurukum, Wadata, Gyado villa, Terwase Agbadu and Kyabis hotel areas of Makurdi metropolis and are now housed at the camp with heavy presence of security operatives.
In the same vein, elder Joseph Ayootsav, a pensioner and father of nine finds the market relief shelter better than the primary school halls offered them during the 2012 flood disaster.

He pointed out that both the location of the camp and inside the environment was quite suitable for human habitation and the arrangement made for the families to share accommodation was better in terms of privacy than the previous settlements in schools classrooms.

Mr. Johnson Iyorter, a retired military officer also takes shelter with his family in the camp after being displaced by the flood from their home at Gyado villa, near Judges Quarters.
“The camp is well organised and we are very comfortable here except that we expect food, light and water,” he said.

Iyorter appealed to the state government to build flood victims affordable houses on higher ground so that they can permanently relocate from flood-prone areas in order to avoid the yearly repeat of the ugly trend.

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