4 January 2013

Nigeria: Lawmakers Shudder Over Anambra Erosion Menace

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment yesterday wept at the level of devastation caused by erosion in various parts of Anambra State and other parts of the South-east.

The committee members led by its chairman, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, visited the erosion sites at Nanka and Oko communities in Anambra State expressed shock at the extent of devastation the erosion had caused.

The committee nevertheless promised to bring the attention of the presidency to the problem which they described as beyond the capacity of the people of the area and the Anambra State government.

Ekwunife expressed dismay that despite the assurances of the contractor that a lot would be done, including asphalting the road at the Nanka erosion site, on their next visit, the committee had not seen anything.

She said although the community had said they were satisfied with the contractor's work, the committee would go back and analyse what they had seen and were told and compare it with the bill of quantity and ascertain the progress of the contractor.

At Oko, she described the erosion there as very serious which only the Federal Government could handle, adding: "If this problem is not solved now, by the time we come back, I am very sure we won't see many houses here. But we won't wait till that time because as soon as we go back we will intensify action to ensure that the president comes to the rescue of not just Oko community but all the communities around here."

She commended the communities for their patience, especially the traditional ruler, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, for managing to make his subjects to remain patient with government and not take the laws into their hands over the development.

In his reaction, a member of the committee, Hon. Moshood Mustapha echoed Ekwunifie's observations but charged the contractor to be more serious as the project was not likely to be completed on schedule.

"There is need to immediately work on what is on ground to make sure we don't have further devastation and the presidency should direct the ecological fund office to immediately intervene," he said.

Another member, Abdullahi Idris Garba, said they would expedite action in the National Assembly to ensure the problem was tackled, while the Permanent Secretary in the ecological fund office, Goni Sheikh, who said he had seen the devastation first hand promised to work on it, even as he described the devastation as scary.

Also, Ekwueme, who is the traditional ruler of Oko community, while receiving the committee, said 21 houses had already been submerged and said the people were now in danger of being swallowed up and urged the federal government to urgently come to the aid of the people as anything could happen.

"We need help urgently to at least stop further encroachment. I like the whole world to know our plight here; we are lost, we are about to be swallowed u," he lamented.

Meanwhile, the contracting firm handling the project, Rhino Construction Company, had attributed their inability to meet the completion deadline to the collapsed drainage constructed years ago which caused the flooding of their work and called for more funding.

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