Many people were forced to flee as surging flood waters from a tributary of River Niger submerged their homes and shops in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital yesterday.
The floods followed several hours of torrential rainfall that began at about midnight till morning.
Daily Trust reports that a stream from Agbaja that discharges its content into the River Niger overflowed its route to the highway around Kporoko area of the popular Nataco Junction in Lokoja.
Several residential buildings and shops around the river bank were submerged in the raging flood.
Also submerged by the flood are some houses around Felele community of Lokoja.
Motorists and commuters plying the Abuja-Lokoja road were held in traffic gridlock for several hours when some portions of the highway disappeared under flood waters and it became risky to continue with their journey.
In the same vein, some portions of the Lokoja-Ajaokuta road were also flooded around the Ganaja village axis of the state capital.
The State government ordered the immediate evacuation of people from all the flooded areas.
Explaining the situation, a resident of the area, Mr Henry Ameh said “There is a bridge before the NATACO Mosque which water flows through from Agbaja and discharges into the River Niger. Most of the time, whenever there is torrential rain, the water overflows into the road.
“That was what happened today. Because of the volume of the rainfall, it went wild and spread across the road and into people’s houses and shops. It happens annually whenever there is torrential rain.
“Normally, when it happens, it affects the traffic situation due to the high volume of vehicle on the Abuj-Lokoja road.
“Within some few hours, the volume of water subsided and people started moving again. That is what happened. It is not River Niger overflowing its banks; it is that stream that discharges water into the River Niger that causes it”.
He said the travellers coming from Abuja axis towards the South West and South East and those returning from the south west and south east heading northward were stranded for over four hours.
A motorist, Chinedu Ozor who was on his way from Abuja to Enugu said he spent close to three hours in the traffic gridlock.
Other commuters who spoke in similar vein, said the situation had caused delays to their movement.
The situation was so desperate that the Army, the Navy, the police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and the civil defence corps were called to control the chaotic traffic situation after the water receded.
Public Relations Officer of the Kogi Sector Command of the FRSC, Mr Abdulkadir Abubakar said more of his personnel were immediately mobilized to the highway to control the ensuing traffic jam.
He said the situation was eventually brought under control and the highway became free of traffic jam.
State Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, who expressed concerns over the situation, said the state is within the flood plains and receives over 3000 billion cubic meters of runoff waters that come from other places.
“Within this week, Igalamela and Odolu have been flooded with about three communities completely submerged and we are trying to establish the number of persons affected. We have similar reports from Idah, Ibaji, Bassa all within this week. The reports are pouring in torrents.
“In Lokoja yesterday, the axis around Ganaja Village and Gadumo axis were flooded and we are trying to confirm the number of houses and persons that were affected and this morning, Sarikin Noma was completely flooded and the community is completely cut off from Lokoja and at the Nataco junction of the Abuja-Lokoja federal high way, one lane was completely over ran,” she said.
Osikoya, who called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of the state, said camps were being set up at Felele and Kabawa area of Lokoja to accommodate those displaced by the flood.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State government has ordered the immediate evacuation of the area around the Nataco Junction axis of the Okene/Lokoja/Abuja Expressway in Lokoja
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mrs Petra Akinti Onyegbule said it was in continuation of the administration’s efforts to protect lives and properties of the citizens of the state.
“We wish to implement this immediate evacuation to forestall further loss of valuables and possibly lives in our dear state. We are thankful for the cooperation of all the security agencies, Local Government and State Government emergency workers, all other stakeholders and the good people of Kogi State for helping to minimize the effect of the flash flood. You are the true heroes of this event.
“We also wish to call for the understanding of all travellers, both drivers and commuters, who use this road. The road is a major artery connecting the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria, hence it is critical that we navigate the road carefully during this period and respect the men and women in uniform trying to keep traffic flowing as quickly as possible.
“Relief camps have been set up in the affected areas for temporarily displaced persons to take advantage of. Relief materials have also begun to arrive the locations. Donors and volunteers are also welcome”, the statement said.