By Godwin Esogbuzinem Iweka
As we move further into the rainy season, the ugly sights of storm water flooding and its effects on the lives of the residents of the capital city of Delta State, Asaba, has once again become the subject of discussion at various fora. While the residents of Asaba groan in pain over disruptions on their businesses and social activities caused by flooding, many believe that the new administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will take adequate steps to address this menace. This is more so since the governor, at different occasions has promised to involve professionals in the provision of public infrastructure.
This is a welcomed position from the governor as it should be seen as a call on all concerned professionals to contribute meaningfully towards the provision of infrastructure for making lives better for the entire people of Delta State.
It is on this note that I wish to ask the question: “Who, I mean among the professionals, has told the His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa that the on-going drainage works in Asaba Metropolis will eventually achieve its objective of properly managing the heavy rains and its attendant flooding of Asaba and its environs?”
The governor, on a recent inspection of the drainage works along Okpanam road, urged the contractor to expedite action towards completion of the works. I was really pained by this remark as it gave an indication that all is well with the design and construction works, and we are just awaiting the completion of the drainage works to bring an end to this storm water flooding in Asaba. If that is our hope, then in my opinion, someone has lied to His Excellency.
I saw the design of this drainage works over 4 years ago, and sitting to watch another 4 years in hope for something I never believed will work, except if properly reviewed and properly addressed, will be a great disservice to Deltans and humanity.
The situation in Asaba is to say the least, a mockery of Urban Drainage (Storm Water) Management System for the simple reasons that no successful Urban Drainage (Storm Water) Management System comprises of drainage channels (conveyances) only. I remember discussing this issue with the former Commissioner of Environment as we sat on our flight from Asaba to Abuja. During that discussion I expressed my concern to him that it appears the state was embarking on a “huge drain” of public resources rather than drainage of storm water.
In my opinion, as stated during the discussion, a properly planned urban drainage system will incorporate storm water collection, storm water conveyance, storm water discharge controls, flood water relief systems etc. The Okpanam – Asaba Road definitely should have properly planned and designed erosion and sediment control structures.
If this administration wants to get this Asaba Urban Drainage to work, then it must as a matter of urgency declare the storm water management as top priority. It must constitute a team of experts, not drawn from the government ministries, but private practicing engineers who will proffer unbiased consultancy and advice. The ministries should play their role as Client or Client Representatives.
The existing design should be revised to include some of the urban drainage structures mentioned earlier, with Storm water Detention and Retention facilities, Infiltration Trenches and Basins and Vegetative Storm water structures such as swales, filter strips wetlands and ponds where appropriate. Also it should be noted that best management practices for storm water management should also inculcate water quality management and pollution control systems. This is my professional opinion.
Engr. Iweka, a senior member of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, writes from Asaba, Delta State.