FLOODS TAKE OVER PORT HARCOURT AS RESIDENTS GROAN UNDER HEAVY DOWNPOUR
For residents of Port Harcourt and some other cities in the State, the downpour which often times comes heavily, has come with much pains that not a few wish that the dry season despite its consequent heat would set in fast.
Reason is that though still in the early months of the wet season, many parts of the State especially the capital city are on the verge of being submerged by heavy flood.
Already some of the roads and streets have become the nightmare of motorists and pedestrians. They include the ever-busy Olu Obasanjo Road and the Market Junction axis of the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, notorious for its vehicle-sinking flood.
Yet another spot is the Agip Road axis of Ada George Road that long before the heavy rains set in, had literally been swallowing vehicles including commercial buses.
In the case of the Market Junction flood induced by two recent downpours, it is commonplace to see vehicles break down midway into the flood.
The story is no different at the Intels Junction on the same Expressway despite recent efforts at rehabilitation of that portion of the road.
Ironically, the seeming misfortune of motorists and their passengers especially at these two spots has become the fortune of able-bodied youths who help to push out vehicles that break down in the flood for a fee.
Stranded passengers who are afraid to wade through the knee-level flood also depend on the human ferries to back them across the water for a fee of N50 to N100 depending on size and weight of the passenger.
The common fear is that the situation could get worse as the rains get heavier. Residents are urging for urgent official measures to tackle the problem.
'The state government should not allow this situation to continue. Year in year out, we face this same problem in Port Harcourt' said a concerned citizen.
'I know that the government is constructing big drainages in places like Ikwerre Road but I think they should also do something quick in these other areas like Market Junction. The situation is so bad', said Mr. Uche Ekwo, a resident.
Experts have attributed the persistent flood menace to the fact that Port Harcourt is ecologically located in the salt water transition zone characterized by heavy yearly rainfall.
However, government officials insist that the flood would have been less problematic if residents were not involved in the ugly habit of dumping refuse in available drainages, most of which are not wide enough.
The Chairman of the States Intervention Committee on Flooding, Mr. Godstime Oruku in a recent interview with reporters lashed at residents who dump refuse in the drainages, blaming them for worsening the problem.
He urged that people should assist government's efforts to de-flood the capital city by taking their refuse to approved dumps.
Until the on-going construction of ultra-modern drainages is completed, it is certain that Port Harcourt residents can only wish for a time when the rains would come and there will be no flood.
If the government sustains the present tempo of anti-flood measures, that time may not be too long.