The floods are already here, says the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, as River Niger, River Benue, Kainji Dam and the confluence of water bodies in Lokoja have all overflowed their various banks.
According to the agency, the above mentioned water bodies overflowed their banks on Monday, August 8, 2016, adding that various agencies were currently struggling to impound the floods, which in a matter of days shall be felt in many more locations across the country.
In a circular with reference number MWR/NIHSA/EH/S/1/37, signed by its Director-General, Moses Beckley, and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Tuesday, NIHSA made it clear that the flooding situations at the upper reach of the River Niger portended imminent danger for Nigeria in the coming weeks and months
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency is the Federal Government agency responsible for monitoring all the major rivers in Nigeria including the trans-boundary rivers Niger and Benue.
In its latest circular, the agency said information from the regional Niger Basin Authority with headquarters in Niamey, Niger Republic, warned of imminent flooding incident in Nigeria of the magnitude comparable to that of 2012 flood.
The NBA is a regional body of nine-member countries in the West and Central Africa, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad.
At a global level, this regional cooperation body monitors the river flows and socio-economic developments within the river systems in these countries, and shares information/data among member countries.
According to NIHSA, it was on this basis that the secretariat of the NBA notified Nigeria that the rainy season, which started in the Middle Niger (Burkina Faso and Niger Republic) in June, 2016, had led to a gradual rise of the level of River Niger in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The agency said, “This high level of water in Niger Republic is already spreading to Benin Republic, and invariably, to Nigeria. As of 2nd August, 2016, the Yellow Warning Line of 5.30m corresponding to 1,700m3/s flow rate has been reached and exceeded in Niamey, Niger Republic.
“According to the information, if the heavy rainfall continues in intensity and duration within these regions of the River Niger, it is imminent that flood situation similar to that of year 2012 may occur. It takes approximately nine days for the propagation of peak floods from Niamey to Nigeria (Jidere Bode, Kebbi State).
“The above observation transmitted to Nigeria is in tandem with the records from our monitoring stations at critical locations on rivers Niger and Benue, as well as their tributaries within the Nigerian portion of the Niger Basin. The water levels are rising gradually at most of our stations.”
The agency added, “Specifically, the water level at Jidere Bode (Kebbi State), our first monitoring station as River Niger enters Nigeria, is 3.77m high as of 8th August, 2016, which has exceeded the 3.32m value observed on 8th August, 2012. Also on the same day, the level of water at the Kainji reservoir is 132.62m, which is higher than the value recorded about this time in 2012.
“Presently, impoundment of water for hydropower generation is taking place at the dam. It is expected that inflows from upstream of the River Niger would be accommodated by Kainji Dam before it starts spilling to Jebba Dam once the level gets to 141.73m. At our monitoring station in Wuro-Boki, Adamawa State, the first monitoring station as River Benue enters Nigeria, the water level has risen to 5.36m as of August 8, 2016, as against 4.88m recorded on August 8, 2012.”
NIHSA noted that although there was presently no water releases from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon, the heavy rainfall being witnessed within the catchment of River Benue had caused the water level to be on the increase.
It stated that as of August 8, 2016, its monitoring station at Makurdi recorded an alarming 9.20m height in water level, as against 9.17m recorded on August 8, 2012.
The agency said, “Based on this, we wish to alert the general public that the Middle Niger (Niger Republic and Burkina Faso, upstream of Nigeria) is already flooded after the magnitude of the flood experienced in that region in 2012. This situation portends danger for Nigeria where there are many active tributaries to River Niger that contributes quite heavily to flooding incidents.
“At the Confluence in Lokoja, the water level as of 8th August, 2016, is 7.74m, which has exceeded the 7.72m recorded value on 8th August, 2012. This value is sending a strong signal to dwellers within the flood plains to relocate immediately to safer and higher grounds.
“Downstream of Lokoja at Onitsha, the water level has risen to an alarming height of 9.16m. This value is expected to increase with time. Therefore, residents along the Habour Bridge Head and industrial activities within the Habour Industrial Layout, Onitsha, should be on the lookout.”