Monday, 12 March 2012

The Floods of Ibadan and Thailand

Dr Bolanle Wahab, the Oyo State Task Force Chairman on Flood Prevention and Management said, in a statement to the press last year, that 2,105 buildings were consumed by the angry floods that visited the Ibadan metropolis in August last year. The taskmaster made it clear that a sum of N4.31 billion was required to construct 25 bridges and culverts across the 11 local government areas in Ibadan. After a heavy downpour of rain, the rush of water across many streets that lacked proper drainage systems and through poorly channelled canals claimed a minimum of 25 lives and destroyed properties in the ancient city. The floods first appeared in Ibadan vanishing to Thailand. And, it did not promise to go away.

It was obvious that prior to the inundation, the state planning authorities had functionally hibernated themselves to issues of drainage and disaster exigencies. Though having a population of population 3,565,108, as documented by GeoNames, Ibadan remains one of the biggest cities sitting on African soil. However, the large city has an accompanying reputation for environmental uncleanness as many of her sewage ducts are often abused by many inhabitants. But knowing this, it is only expected of the state government to ensure that environmental protection is given a high priority. Regulations and unshakable measures should be broadcasted and enforced as regards waste disposal, especially in areas where the people seem to have grown too lazy to observe environmental cleanliness.

Speaking on behalf of the Oyo State government, Mrs. Kafayat Adebisi Adeojo, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, asserted that owners of illegal structures would not be compensated for their demolition. Also, Dr Wahab advised that drains should be kept clean always while the state Governor, Sen. Isiaka Ajimobi confirmed that structures obstructing the waterways would be demolished. Upon visiting the state to examine the effects of the floods, Mr President, Dr Jonathan Goodluck promised to rebuild the bridges and reconstruct the roads affected by the floods. But a wise counsel for the state Governor is that he should seek other means of solving the problem and not base his expectations on the President’s previous utterance. This is not because Dr Goodluck has no intentions of helping out in the predicament but his hands are probably too full with issues regarding national debts, high rate of unemployment and intense insecurity in the country.

In Thailand, Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma, the floods struck the inhabitants like it did the people of Ibadan. Statistics published at have shown that within the 1900-2010 interregnum, flood has cost China more than any other country in the world, the U.S. trailing behind but it is probably that the inhabitants of Thailand too never saw it coming to them late last year too. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s July 2011 estimate, 66,720,153 people live in Thailand.

The floods began in late July, fed by heavy monsoon rains and a series of tropical storms. The floodwaters swamped entire towns as they moved south through the country's central heartland to Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand, affecting more than two-thirds of the country's 77 provinces. It was Thailand's worst flooding in more than half a century with more than 600 people confirmed dead. But towards cleansing the waters and save more lives, the Thai government in conjunction with private companies and relief groups had distributed (effective microorganisms)EM balls to the public and spray the flood water with EM in liquid form.

While opinions were divided on whether the mud balls would be effective on such a massive body of water, it was worth the try, pending the time when results of relevant studies would be available. Therefore, the tennis ball-sized spheres of mud and organic material, laced with EM, were being tossed into the stagnant waters in with the intention of purifying them. Majority state-owned Airports of Thailand (AOT), which runs six airports, said it made a net profit of 160 million baht ($5.12 million) in the July-September period, against a net loss of 643 million a year earlier and a 27 million baht loss in the third quarter.

Though the difference between Ibadan and Thailand are many, the inhabitants of both areas must demonstrate more concern for their environment. Firstly, one is a city with an ancient feel while the other is a country with an isle’s panorama. Also, the predominant race, culture and level of technological know-how are different. The urban people of Ibadan eat imported rice and the farmers in Thailand grow many of them. Finally, they are on different continents and should have dissimilar experiences. But the floods overlooked that fact and visited both. Though with more intensity, the same kind of flood that affected Ibadan attacked Thailand and took lives and properties with it. This should therefore come as a warning to all and sundry; to be more responsible towards our environment. No one anywhere is left out. The globe is evolving and our lives are being affected. We will do none other than ourselves much good if we contribute our quota of activity towards a balanced environment and control adverse climate change.