Lokoja — This is not the best of times for victims of the recent flood disaster still inhabiting the relief camp in Lokoja, Kogi State. Hundreds of people had voluntarily left the camps to start new life, alleging that they were frustrated by government.
Those who did not leave were relocated to an abandoned government estate in Lokoja. At the moment about 92 families are leaving in fourteen blocks of three bedrooms flat; with each family occupying a room and two families occupying the sitting room, Daily Trust learnt at the camp yesterday.
Some of the displaced persons who spoke to our reporter said they now rely on relatives to feed as food supply from government is inadequate.
But chairman of State Emergency Management agency, Alice Ogedegbe, denied the allegations saying the flood victims were only trying to tarnish the good intention of the government. She said they are well taken care of.
Speaking to Daily Trust, one victim, Sunday Jibrin said: "Though government is giving us food, it is not enough." He said since they were relocated to the estate sometime in October this year, government only supplied food twice.
"The first time they came they gave each family a quarter bag of rice, beans and small red oil. As of now, we don't have palm oil and kerosene. In fact we were not even given kerosene at all. We depend on relatives and friends to augment whatever government is giving us," he said.
Mr Sunday has no personal house. He was a tenant before the flood disaster. When he spoke to our reporter yesterday, he called on the government to 'settle' the victims, so that they will go and rent houses in conducive environment and start a new life.
Another occupant of the camp who gave her name as Madam Grace told our reporter that the camp is not conducive for human habitation.
"In this place, there is no water, no light and no toilet. We go to the bush to answer the call of nature. The available pit toilet here is not good hence we have to resort to the bush. At times we are confronted with reptiles like snakes," she said.
Madam Grace also complained of inadequate food supply. She said: "they give us food once in a month. They have now given us twice since we came and we have exhausted our stocks.
"The first time the official came, four people were given one litre of groundnut oil to share; six people were given one bag of rice to share; same goes to garri and beans. But the last time they gave us food about two weeks ago. So we rely on relatives for food because the one the government is giving us is not enough," she said.
Like Sunday, Madam Grace also called on the government to 'settle' them so that they will rent accommodation in the town, saying she and her family were tenants before the flood struck.
Juliet John said her family is tired of the camp as the environment is not conducive. Mrs John, member of a family of six alleged that six families were occupying a block of three bedrooms flat. She described the arrangement as inconvenient.
"We are just managing here because we don't have alternative. If we have our way we would have long live the camp. People say government has given us money but we have not received any money from the government," she said.
But a member of the Red Cross team, Dan Usman, who is among the camp officials also faulted the allegations made by the displaced persons, saying that government has given them enough food.
"By my calculation the food supplied to the victims is supposed to last them up to a month. We gave each family one 25kg bag of rice, one 20kg bag of beans, one 12kg bag of garri, two carton of Indomie and one litre of oil. We have said instead of one month, they will be getting food every three weeks and the three weeks will elapse by December 23," he said.
The official also said there is a borehole in the camp and that even when it packed up, government was supplying water using tankers before it was repaired. He said the estate was fumigated people were taken there; hence there should be no snakes around.
But on the issue of toilets, Mr. Usman admitted that the toilet is not good enough as the contractor that handled the contract did a shoddy job. He advised that since most of them were tenants before the disaster, government should assist them money to go and rent houses.