Hours of heavy rainfall on Tuesday disrupted socio-economic activities in many parts of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, as streets, major roads, shopping malls, event centres were all flooded, leaving most residents of the oil rich city helpless.
At the popular SPAR, also known as Port Harcourt mall, which shares the same fence with the Government House, workers watched helplessly as the uncontrollable flood water found its way into shops in the massive building.
A lady, who simply identified herself as Ify, said the flood destroyed items worth millions of naira in her shop as all efforts to evacuate them were unsuccessful because of the force of the flood water.
“This morning I opened for business and then the rain which started small later became heavy. Before I knew what was happening I was seeing the main road flooded and the water started coming inside the mall. So, we tried to pack a few things but it was too late. I have lost money in millions here”, she said.
The state office of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), located around the CFC section of the Port Harcourt/Aba Express road, was not spared as the flood completely took over the parking lot of the building, almost burying seized cars and those that belonged to members of staff.
An officer of the FRSC who pleaded anonymity, said they had been experiencing the same problem for years but Tuesday’s own was the mother of all floods as it made it impossible to leave or come into the premises.
He said: “Yes, we are all stuck in the office. Today’s own is worse than previous ones. I have never seen anything like this. We can’t go out and nobody can come in, yet the rain is still falling. We may likely all pass the night in the office”.
Other worst hit areas were, Peter Odili road, Rumola, Diobu, parts of Old Port Harcourt Township, Old GRA, Olu Obasanjo, Dline, Oginigba, Iwofe, Mbgouba and Ada George.
The flood also resulted in heavy traffic as motorists and commuters were stuck at particular places for hours before assessing their destinations while it was noticed that most shops and business outfits along the flooded streets remained closed.
It was also observed that most civil servants stayed away from work as the heavy rain forced them to remain in their homes.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent attributed the massive flood to the poor, and in some areas, the lack of adequate drainage system as well as the blocking of the few existing ones with dirt and garbage.
A resident of Old GRA, Mr. Agustine Pepple urged the state government to be more proactive in handling the environmental challenges of the state.
People said: “This is supposed to be an urban city but look at the mess we are seeing. This is avoidable if the government was very proactive. They should stop waiting until the deed is done.
“Ordinarily if there were more channels opened up for the water to flow this wouldn’t have happened. Even the few channels we have are blocked. Port Harcourt has a very bad drainage system and the earlier the government recognizes and accepts that and takes drastic action the better for us all”, he added.
First News correspondent observed that the many road constructions and flyover bridges the state government is embarking on may have worsen the situation.
Recall that the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), had alerted residents in Inland and Coastal cities, like Bayelsa, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River and Lagos state to expect rain in the afternoon and evening hours for three days.
It also predicted three days of cloudiness and thunderstorms from Monday to Wednesday across the country in its weather outlook released on Sunday.