Residents of Abia State are currently counting their loss following the ravaging flood which hit several parts of the State.
Abia, South-East Nigeria, just like many other States of the federation, is having its fair share of the devastating flood, which has rendered millions of people homeless, with some reported dead.
Many traders, car owners, property owners, among others, in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State, have lost several billions of naira to the devastating flood.
On September 26, 2022, a large population of Aba residents received the worst blow as they woke up and saw submerged shops, residential and corporate buildings at the famous Ariaria International Market and its environs.
It was reports that this led to complete destruction of goods worth billions of naira.
Group of traders, who could not bear the development, staged a peaceful protest, seeking the intervention of the Government of Abia State.
Reacting to the protest by traders in Ariaria International Market Aba, the State Commissioner for Trade and Investments, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said: “while we obviously have no way of preventing heavy rains from falling in any of our markets, the administration undertook the ongoing remodelling of the market, starting with A-line, with new drains, road and shops elevated and aligned properly to conclusively deal with the perennial flooding challenges experienced by traders since inception of the market.
“While it is a fact that government has no tool at the moment to prevent torrential rains from falling in any part of the State, including Ariaria International Market area, we have consistently taken measures to ensure that traders do not suffer unduly as a result of the forecast floods ravaging both the country and the entire world”.
Kalu continued, “After due review of the current flooding situation across the country, affected areas in Ariaria and the subsisting forecast by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) advising further preparations for more floods, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has approved the immediate relocation of traders in A-D zones of A-line to available shops in the A block zone, So-Safe zone and Ochendo zone in Ariaria International Market for temporary accommodation without any fees pending the completion of the ongoing work”.
On the protest by traders in Aba over the incessant cases of flooding in Ariaria International market, Kalu, however, described the protesters as politically sponsored individuals masquerading as traders at Ariaria International Market, leading to the destruction of some construction equipment deployed to ensure the proper remodelling of A-line.
On measures and efforts taken by Abia government to address causes of the rampaging floodings in Aba market and its environs, the Trade and Investment Commissioner, Kalu who frowned at the building of structures randomly without planning, reechoed the demand by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration for strict implementation of physical planning standards.
He said, “the lack of priority given to the implementation of physical planning standards had led to arbitrary erection of structures on unapproved spaces, especially in Ariaria International market where buildings were built even on drainage channels.
“Look at the challenges of flooding we are facing at the Ariaria market, it is as a result of building randomly without planning. That’s why you see floods submerging many shops and residential houses.”
Similarly, residents of Umuahia, the Abia capital city are not exempted. Areas within Umuahia axis, such as first gate of Ehimiri Housing Estate, along Ikot Ekpene road, Orpet junction, Afara/Agbama/Holy Ghost Secondary School road leading to Ahiaukwu Olokoro in Umuahia south area, Apumiri Ubakala junction by Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Express road and few others too mention are battling the natural disaster.
Irked by ravaging flooding being experienced in Umuahia and Aba cities during the yearly rainy season, a cross section of Abia residents, on Friday, maintained that enough action has not been taken by the Government of Abia State in curtailing the harsh effect of flood in most parts of the State.
In an interview , a businessman and resident of Aba, Mr Maurice Ndubueze, regretted that the flood ravaging the State was caused by bad roads and drainage blockages.
According to Nwabueze, “the State government should step up efforts in construction and rehabilitation of roads. You can see that the link roads within and outside Ariaria market here in Aba are deplorable, thereby causing devastating floods. Government must get it right by raising the bar in critical infrastructure.”
On her part during an interaction with our correspondent, a female trader who sells tomatoes at the popular Orie Ugba Market in Umuahia township, Madam Nkechi Nwankwo regretted the worsening flood disasters within the market.
She also regretted the sorry state of link roads within and outside the shores of the markets which she described as one of the major causes of flood disasters in the Umuahia areas.
Nwankwo, however, urged developers to subject themselves to planning before erecting commercial structures and residential buildings.