Bayelsa State governor, Douye Diri has cautioned local landowners and property developers not to buy land or build structures near natural watercourses in order to prevent further property damage and yearly flooding-related fatalities.
Diri gave the caution while declaring open a three-day Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Summit organized by the State Physical Planning and Development Board on Tuesday in Yenagoa.
The governor, who lamented the extent of the damage caused in the state capital during the recent flooding, pleaded with the populace to help the government prevent another occurrence of such a catastrophe.
Diri, who was represented by Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, his deputy also ordered the creation of a Town Planning Committee in each community in the state. This committee will work with the board to acquire land and develop buildings in the various communities while ensuring that natural waterways are not obstructed.
He said: “So I want to encourage all of us who are developers not to buy our water bodies, this is where the physical planning board has to be very firm because right now if those water bodies are still there, water that comes from rain will go and settle there without overflowing to the residential areas.
Speaking further, he said, “we need a special study of the Yenagoa environment because of its unique nature, when people sell land and even sell the road, that is no longer good,”. “Each Community should now have a town planning committee, that will ensure that building of structures is being regulated in their respective communities, we have to free our water bodies for easy movement of water to get our state free of flooding”.
On his part, Alabo Gideon Ekeuwei, chairman of the Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Board said that without deliberate efforts to match rapid economic development with thorough planning and regulatory controls, there will inevitably be an increase in traffic congestion, increased crime rate, squatter settlements, poor waste management and associated flooding, environmental degradation, and the outbreak of epidemics, among other things.
He said that the recent monster flood that devastated the state and its surroundings is concerning.
This story was adapted from Daily Post.