Nigeria: Erosion Threatens Ekwueme Square, Other Public Infrastructure in Awka

3 August 2021

Some federal and state infrastructure in Awka, Anambra capital, may be lost if the current threat posed by erosion in their surroundings are not checked, an investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) shows.

The facilities are the 20-year-old popular Ekwueme Square, the Federal High Court, State High Court and the Federal Secretariat under construction as well as some private property in the area.

Ekwueme Square is a monument where many state functions are held, but findings by NAN indicate that recurrent incidences of gully erosion taking toll on some portions of the square could put it out of business.

NAN reports that concerned residents are worried at likely consequences of threats posed by erosion in the area made popular by the monument named after the late second republic Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme.

Although the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) had once carried out remedial work in the vicinity, which saved the federal high court from caving in, the danger had yet to let up.

NAN correspondent who visited the area on Monday reports that the approaching erosion is a few meters away from the rear fence of the State's event centre.

The Ekwueme Square recently had sports facilities, including a standard swimming pool, Handball court, Volleyball and Basketball courts built in it.

Mr John Okoye, a civil servant, said he was not aware of the magnitude of erosion threat to Alex Ekwueme Square but said every effort should be made to save the facility.

Okoye said apart from the man whom the Square was named after, it meant different things to different people due to its multipurpose nature.

According to him, I am aware that there are erosion challenges around that area but I am not aware that Ekwueme Square is in danger.

"The government must, however, act fast to save it from destruction," he added.

Also speaking, a staff member of Anambra judiciary who pleaded anonymity said the threat was not only on the Square but on all the structures in the vicinity.

The officer said although efforts were made in the past to rescue some structures in the area, there was need for a holistic intervention.

"The erosion has been there; at a time the Federal High Court building was almost collapsing but NEWMAP did something which is why the edifice is still standing.

"What is needed there is total erosion control, not the makeshift remedy and tipping of sand they have been doing.

"By the time the rains come heavily, the entire area will be no more," he said.

In his reaction, Dr Emmanuel Okafor, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, said the government was doing everything possible to avert unwholesome situation in the area.

"We know that there are erosion issues around the Ekwueme Square, Federal High Court and State High Court area, but I did not know that Ekwueme square is in serious danger now.

"NEWMAP had done some palliative works there and at a time we agreed that it will do the entire job that is why the Ministry of Environment pulled out.

"Presently there is no work going on because NEWMAP is waiting for funds but we shall discuss the new development and escalate it to the state government.

"We cannot lose Ekwueme square; that will be devastating to the state," he said.

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