by Reuben Daba
The flooding situation in Kogi State has assumed critical dimensions. Boats were deployed on Sunday by the Nigeria Red Cross Society to Ibaji Local Government Council of Kogi state to rescue trapped flood victims who took refuge on treetops.
Even the Abuja-Lokoja highway was blocked by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for safety reasons, as flood in Kogi State rendered the route impassable. Motorists were advised to seek alternative routes to get through to the Federal Capital Territory.
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Mr. Mustafa Allah-Dey, the Chairman of the Kogi State branch of the Red Cross, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) released the boats for the rescue operation.
Mr. Allah-Dey said men of the Nigerian Navy and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, State Emergency Management Agency and the state Ministry of Environment were also involved in the operation, adding that many of the victims were said to be in life threatening situations.
He said that the people should be blamed for their present predicament, adding that they failed to heed several warnings to quit their houses to avoid being trapped.
The chairman said that he did not have the figure of the exact number of people trapped and that no report of casualties had been received as at the time of this report.
He only described the situation in Ibaji as “very terrible”.
It’s been hell for motorists and commuters in Kogi following the flood
Meanwhile, the traffic gridlock on Lokoja-Abuja road has become more chaotic with vehicles forming long queues on both sides of the road.
The queue at the Lokoja end of the road has extended to Obajana village, about 15 kilometres to Lokoja city centre.
Isaac Martins, the Head of operations of the State Sector Command of the FRSC, who confirmed this to NAN, said that there was not much the commission could do to help the situation.
He said the problem was particularly with the small cars, adding that it takes officials and youths assisting them an average of 20 minutes to help a car out of the water.
“Vehicles are moving but they are moving slowly, that is just the situation at hand now,’’ Mr. Martins said.
He appealed to motorists to make use of alternative routes pending the time the flood would be over.
Nine local government areas were affected in Kogi State with Ibaji Local Government Area almost completely submerged. The inhabitants are now taking refuge in the neighbouring communities, with some on treetops.
The other local governments areas affected, according to NEMA are Bassa, Ofu, Kogi, Omala, Ajaokuta, Ankpa, Igalamela and Lokoja where choice property including hotels, residential buildings, government offices and fishing communities along the confluence of Rivers Benue and Niger were also virtually submerged.