19 September 2013

Nigeria: Erosion Havoc - Anambra Community Cries Out

Awka — WITH the rain pouring in torrents in many parts of the country, its effect is adversely affecting many erosion-prone communities in Anambra State. It has become a common sight to see many families abandoning their homes whenever it rains because their houses are flooded. The floods have created gully erosion in areas that hitherto did not have such problems.

Worried by the devastating effects of gully erosion in their area, hundreds of placard -carrying protesters from Oraifite community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the State recently took to the streets and caused a heavy traffic snarl along the ever- busy Onitsha-Owerri expressway. The protest was to drive home their save -our -soul , SOS appeal to the Federal Government to find immediate and lasting solution to the scourge.

They waved placards some of which read: "FG rescue Oraifite from erosion menace", "President Goodluck please save us", "Erosion has pulled down high tension poles and caused blackout", "Our lives and houses are in danger" and "Oraifite is under siege."

For about 30 minutes, traffic along the road was brought to a halt as the villagers cried to the Federal Government to save them from persistent erosion.

Already, several houses in the area have been submerged in the deep gully, while a two -storey mansion is sitting close to a deep gully that was noticed only few months ago. Owners of the affected houses have since relocated to nearby communities.Villages in Oraifite mostly affected include Amakom, Ibolo, Awo and Ahia Uzor which have been cut off from their farm lands and plantations.

President General of Oraifite Town Union, Dr. Jude Okolo said unless something is done urgently, many villagers in the area would soon become refugees in their state.

According to him, there are 51 documented erosion sites in the area. The problem, he said, started shortly after the construction of the Onitsha -Owerri road because the contractors failed to create appropriate channels for the flood that empties into the area from nearby Nnewi and Ichi communities.

He said that the construction company diverted the flood from Ifite area of the community to Nkwo Market and Ibolo village and since then, many homes are usually flooded whenever it rained.

Okolo said that following complaints by the community, no fewer than eight delegations from the Federal and State governments as well as the National Assembly had visited the sites, but nothing has been done.

Immediate past president of the community, Mr. Ralph Nwike told Vanguard Metro that when the threat was first noticed in 2009, a letter was written to the construction company handling the road project to address the situation by constructing large water intakes in the area, but its officials said it was not their responsibility.

"We also wrote the National Assembly and yet nothing has been done, except that some people visited the sites. Now, the erosion is pulling down people's houses and those residing close to the sites no longer sleep with their eyes closed. Something that started as a small hole has reached a crisis situation and even the recently completed expressway is being threatened. Electricity poles have also been pulled down by the gully leading to the distruprion of power supply in the community," he said.

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