BEFORE Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa assumed office as governor of Delta in May, 2015, parts of the state, including Asaba, the capital, were perennially plagued by flooding during the rainy season. It was on record that flood claimed lives and brought down buildings in some cities and communities in the state. The situation was precarious, especially as no serious effort was made by previous regimes to address the challenge. Daunting as it was, Okowa declared unequivocally that he would assuage the residents’ predicament occasioned by the flooding by combating it frontally. And, in keeping with his innate virtue, which has endeared him to many and earned him the chieftaincy title of EKWUEME from his Owa kingdom, he earnestly commenced the walk of his talk, awarding contract for “Asaba StormDrainage’’, a truly audacious project designed to stem flood menace in the city. The project, which is being executed in phases, is at the completion stage and it has been acknowledged that when inaugurated, will conveniently swallow all flood in Asaba whenever it rains. Residents are excited and anxiously waiting for the respite
Residents and other persons familiar with the flood menace in Asaba will testify that towards the end of raining season in 2019, great improvement was recorded in the management of the flooding which had “tormented ’’ the city for decades. Okowa’s “Storm Drainage’’ to the rescue. Hitherto, the flood problem created anxious moments engendered by fears that the volume of water was going to submerge houses. And, come the rains and flood did, and had buildings go under and deaths recorded in some cases. Indeed, the flood menace was an albatross to residents of the capital city. The busy Okpanam Road was usually overwhelmed by flood, causing terrible snarl in traffic, with motorists forced to drive indiscriminately and lawlessly. The road leading to Junior Staff Quarters from Summit Road was often cut off during the rains and premises of Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS), Asaba, also went under, submerged by the flood, with offices run over and equipment destroyed. Besides Okpanam Road, DBs Road, Junior Staff Quarters Road, other places usually badly affected by flood include Jesus Saves Road, DLA Road, Ambassador Leo Okogwu Road, Infant Jesus, Temple Clinic area and whole of Asaba inland town.
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But today, that flood plague, with its attendant trauma to residents of Asaba, is no more. The Storm Drainage project by Okowa came to the rescue and has brought joy to the people. A trader who sells processed cassava (fufu) at the Akpu junction on Okpanam Road, Mr Kosisor Ekele, described the flood project as “fantastic and great’’. Another trader at the Midwifery Road junction, who declined to be named, confirmed that they have begun to enjoy cessation of flood problems because of the Storm Drainage project. The Consultant Engineer for the Asaba Storm Water project, Mr John Onwalu, gave an insight into how the project started – “the flood problem brought a lot of suffering in Asaba, and this gave the state government and people concern. When we came in, we carried out preliminary study to find out the cause of the flooding so as to be able to proffer solution. From our preliminary study, we found out that Asaba is sitting on the lower plain of a valley. Taking Asaba and Okpanam together, every rain drop in Okpanam comes down to Asaba because Okpanam is situated at 187 metres above sea level, while the centre of Asaba, which is at Inter Bua Roundabout is situated at 44 metres above sea level.“So, you have a difference of about 143 metres in elevation. This explains why every drop of water in Okpanam flows to Asaba. The situation shows why even when there is no rainfall in Asaba, it still experiences flooding flowing in from Okpanam. Onwalu also disclosed that a major problem which their study discovered was that when Delta was created with Asaba as capital, there was an initial lack of urban planning, which should have mapped out roads, residential areas, commercial areas, schools, etc. But, with no defined areas for property development, people began to develop property indiscriminately, blocking natural water paths, thereby hindering the flow of the precipitated flood through its natural path. According to him, water must find its level and that is why you find water meandering through different places, even through homes.
He explained that the discoveries prompted a survey of the whole area to be carried out soon after the state government under Gov. Okowa directed that Storm Drainage project should be embarked on. “The survey was topographic and intended to collect information of every spot in Asaba. With that, we were able to generate the spot heights from which the contour mapping was produced, with the street names, and all the verifiable features that will help in our work, after which we went into the proper analysis to generate the flood drainage design,” Onwalu said and added that the analysis was to provide answer to the question of volume of flood water that Okpanam contributes to Asaba and how to manage it.
Armed with adequate technical details on issues around the perennial and intense flooding in the capital and environs, including determination of the hydrological channel section that could accommodate the volume of flood water from Okpanam, the government began, as onerous as it appeared, a comprehensive and apt strategy to arrest the scourge, flooding. It deployed Storm Drainage approach, tasking the contractors to split the project into three phases for ease of handling and coordinated supervision. Work in all the phases has been concluded, with only finishing touches ongoing to ensure that when the draibns are activated, flooding in Asaba will be history from this year. The project was superbly, conscientiously and pragmatically executed in tandem with its concept. According to Mr Lawrence Okoji, a lawyer and resident of Asaba, from the gargantuan tunnels we saw and the mighty pipes that run through them, Okowa has saved the state capital and the inhabitants from the debilitating experience of flooding. (see the rest on www.tribuneonlineng.com)
The only way I can described the governor is that he is a “home-grown governor who knows the needs of the people, feels their pain and goes ahead to soothe them. He is God-fearing and loves Deltans. Indeed, Okowa is an angel.’’ He added that Okowa had raised the stake of governance, inadvertently challenging anyone who would succeed him in 2023 to sustain the legacydemonstra
For Julius Nmor, another resident, “Okowa has, with the Asaba Storm Drainage project, shown beyond doubt that he was prepared for the job of governor. This is true because no sooner than he was inaugurated as governor than he embarked on projects that gave meaning to the lives of the people. I wished he could be allowed to take a third term in office.’’He urged that people of the state should pray for the governor continually, saying that was the only way they could best apprecioate him for his love for them which he had exemplified in projects, including Asaba Storm Drainage.
Onwalu stated that now that the main storm sewers had been created in Asaba, “the government is now concentrating on creating the street drains, and everywhere that a road is being constructed or rehabilitated, a street drain is also being provided. “It is the drain that makes the road to last because when there is no water sitting under the asphalt, the road will not collapse. Every drop of water flows into the drain which empties into the sewers, thus keeping the road networks to endure for a long period.The engineer explained that the new drainages were designed to empty flood into the River Niger.
Asaba residents have continued to commend Gov. Okowa for his strong passion to ensure that flooding in the capital city ended by taking concrete and painstaking measures. It is this passion that has spurred him to embark on this level and magnitude of work. This passion expresses his love to give and bequeath enduring infrastructure that will make life and living pleasurable for Deltans, for their prosperity and a Stronger Delta. And daily, in their different places of worship, the people are in full supplication to God, asking him to bless the governor for being His good apostle, meeting the people at the points and according to their needs.
Of course, the Asaba experience is set for replication in Warri, where the contract for Storm Drainage has been awarded. Before now, there was no survey, but today, Warri has a master plan. Just the same way that Asaba was prioritized is the same way that Warri has been prioritized.At his recent inspection of the project, Okowa had said, “I believe that the completion of ongoing drainage projects will remarkably reduce the water overflow in Asaba,’’ and assured that his administration would continue to do its best to make life more meaningful for citizens.
Announcing the redirection of fight against flooding to Warri, the governor told journalists in December, 2019 the governor explained a point, saying, “we are managing our resources judiciously and that is why we are giving special attention to drainage projects in Warri and Uvwie area, because they have a huge flooding problem. Whatever was done in the past was not just good enough considering the terrain in the area.
“We have been able to carry out proper studies and we will embark on six storm drainage projects that will drain a major part of Warri and Uvwie when completed. It may not follow in the same manner like that of Asaba since we are going to use ‘Mat Concrete’ because of the terrain. We will tackle the drainage problem to ensure that at the end of this tenure we will be able to beat our chest that we have done something good for Warri people.
“Once we have solved the drainage challenges, it becomes much easier to construct more roads.”He disclosed that contract for the drainage projects, which as with the Asaba pattern, are in the meantime split into two phases, have been awarded to CCECC Ltd and Levante Construction Ltd at the cost of N9.5 billion each to construct six storm drainage projects to solve flooding problems in Warri and Uvwie. “This administration will continue to prioritise resources in order to provide necessary infrastructure for the people,” he assured.
With the gratitude being heartily expressed by Asaba residents on the “victory’’ of the state government over flooding in the city via the Storm Drainage project, inhabitants of Warri obviously can’t wait for the respite. To them, it is like it happened “yesterday’’.
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