Govt warns against building on water channels, calls for professional bodies collaboration

By Aherhoke Okioma

Bayelsa Government has warned property developers against acquiring lands and developing structures in the natural water channels to curb future flood occurrence in the state and further destruction of property as well as loss of human lives to annual flooding.

Governor Douye Diri, while declaring open a three-day Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Summit organized by the State Physical Planning and Development Board on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.

He decried the level of destruction during the rampaging flood in the state last October, urging the residents to support the government in curbing the future occurrence of such disaster.

Represented by his Deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Diri also directed the formation of Town Planning Committee in all the communities in the state to liaise with the board for land acquisition and development of structures in the various communities to ensure that the natural waterways are not obstructed.

Commenting on the theme of the summit, “Physical Planning and Development in Bayelsa State: The Way Forward. The governor lamented that with the way people are building in the state if there is a fire incident, the level of damages will be very enormous than the last flooding, because firefighters may not be able to access most areas for rescue.

He said: “The flood was a disaster itself, but its management has become a doom for us, so I want to encourage all of us who are developers not to buy our water bodies.

“This is where the physical planning board has to be very firm because right now if those water bodies are still there, water that comes from rain will go and settle there without overflowing into the residential areas.

“Well we need a special comprehensive study of Yenagoa environment because of its unique nature, when people sell land and even sell the road, that is no longer good.

“Each Community should now have a town planning committee, that will ensure that building of structures are being regulated in their respective Communities.

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“We have to free our water bodies for easy movement of water to get our state free of flooding.” He said.

Chairman, Bayelsa State Physical Planning And Development Board, Mr Gideon Ekeuwei, said the board is afraid because no conscious efforts are being made to match rapid economic development with comprehensive planning and regulatory controls.

That there is bound to be increase in traffic congestion, increased crime rate, squatter settlements, poor waste management and attendant flooding, environmental degradation and outbreak of epidemics among others.

According to him, the monster flood that recently visited the state and its antecedent human fatalities, wide-scale destruction of properties and incalculable post-traumatic stress disorders that comes with it are worrisome.

He said the board as an institution, is statutorily empowered to provide the framework for deliberate
spatial planning, they have to brace up for the challenges by ensuring that all man-made causes of flooding are mitigated.

In their various goodwill message, the former governor of Bayelsa state, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha Jonah(Rtd) called for collaboration among professional bodies to nip in the bud of the annual flooding in the state, positing that the Nigerian Society of Engineers who have fast knowledge of the region were ready to make their inputs to assist the state government. He described the summit as not only timely but apt.

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