The Ihembosi community in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state have expressed fears of losing more properties and lives to flood and erosion menace ravaging their community which they anticipate would be worsened by the coming rains.
Speaking to newsmen while pointing out the devastation the unbridled erosion menace caused in the community, the President General of the town, Barrister Chika Dumije, said that erosion is a threat that has taken over 50 per cent of the community’s lands; and has led to the loss of property. He added that if nothing was done urgently, the community may start counting losses of human lives.
“If nothing is done soon, I am afraid that we will be counting losses, not just of materials, livestock and landed properties, but also human lives. When it rains heavily, because of the volume of water that comes from the neighbouring communities and because of poorly constructed erosion channels, it tends to empty those volumes of water into the lands, homes of residents. Some cannot access their residences until after some hours that the rain has stopped.
He said that his government had written severally to the authorities concerned since 2017, but was yet to get any positive action from the government.
“We have made frantic efforts. We have written severally both to the governor himself and to his commissioner in charge of works. We paid advocacy visit to the governor in March 3, 2017, and the governor promised that he was going to do something about it, but till now, nothing has happened,” he said.
The PG observed that the drainage channel that was created along the Ozubulu-Ihembosi road (which was flagged off in 2015 by Governor Willie Obiano but was abandoned at less than 30 per cent completion) was too small for the volume of flood water that flows through the road whenever it rains, and given that the channel which was supposed to end up at the Ubuh stream stopped abruptly before the market, households of residents get flooded.
“The drainage systems are rather too small for the road. They need to give it a bigger drainage system to contain the volume of water. The road is not even 30 per cent completed and has since been abandoned by the government. Ideally, the channels should empty their water in the Ubuh stream.
“We annexed pictures of damages flood caused in the community to a letter we wrote the commissioner of works sometime in December, 2018. The commissioner expressed alarm, but till today, nothing has been done. We expected them to come but they only came in the eve of the election with some tractors which disappeared after the elections without any work done. The road is not being done and it is dilapidating with every passing day. If nothing is done, Umuohi village will be taken over completely by erosion after this rainy season. We have lost farm lands that were already cultivated as well as houses and livestock,” he said.
The second Vice President of the community, Honourable Uzor Herbert Okoye, also decried what he called politicising of the road and erosion sites, reiterating that his village, Umuohi, has been sacked by erosion and that he had to evacuate his family from his home to another community given that the erosion had gotten to his fence and his house might cave in during this rainy season.
In his words, “We are in trouble. Our hearts bleed. As at 2017, when we went to the governor with pictures, the situation was deplorable, but right now, the situation is even worse.”
Another victim of the flood, Ogechi Reuben, said that her family waits for several hours after each rainfall for the flood to subside before they would access their home.
“This water they channeled wrongly flows through my family house. My mum had been to the commissioner’s office last year with pictures of the menace but nothing has been done about it,” she said.
A reliable source said that the contractor handling the road construction, Mac Mourtz, had complained that the road construction was stalled by the inability of the construction company to secure the requisite fund for the project, and lamented that he had taken loans from banks and was being frustrated by government.
“Mac Mourtz was threatened to continue work on the site with his money or risk losing the contract to another person. He, however, died in April, allegedly from complications associated with frustration and depression of not being mobilised by the government coupled with indebtedness to bankers” the source claimed.
Efforts to reach the commissioner for works for reaction to the complaints of the community were unsuccessful as at the time of this report.