Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Residents of Owelle-Aja community, Obosi, Anambra State, have literally taken up arms against erosion and flooding menace, which have rendered many homeless and caused several calamities among the dwellers.
Located in the valley section between Obosi Urban, Awada and Nkpor, the area suffers the misfortune of being the greatest water collector from the upland areas of Nkpor, Odume and environs such that, once it rains, the area becomes flooded.
With no drainage channel to collect the flood, houses are easily submerged, leading to loss of lives, household belongings and other monumental damage. Residents have also been crying out to the state and federal government for assistance, hoping that the ugly situation would be addressed holistically.
However, leaders of the community have rallied round and started a self-help project aimed at addressing the challenges. President-general of the community, Hon. Edwin Muolokwu, and his lieutenants have embarked on massive construction of a drainage system and water channels in the area to tackle the situation.
Speaking during an inspection visit by the traditional ruler of Obosi community, Igwe Chidubem Iweka, the president-general said the project was in fulfilment of his promise to the community during his election campaign, to make a difference, having been resident in the area for years and suffered the same fate as others.
While reflecting on the journey after 11 months in the saddle, Muolokwu noted that introducing a new order different from the old one had always been difficult. He noted that those who prospered in the old order would definitely resist such moves.
He recalled that it was a herculean task initially but, today, landlords in the area were taxing themselves to fund the project and giving the leadership maximum cooperation.
He praised other landlords for their financial contributions, stating that N20 million was budgeted for the project and about N6 million has been spent so far.
“People want to see who they can trust and once they see that person, they will cooperate with you to succeed. I don’t have any personal power but the grace of God has made it possible for us to go this far. And we’re still moving,” he said.
He appealed to neighbouring communities to desist from dumping refuse in the drainage to avoid environmental hazards and blockage of the water channels.
Traditional ruler of Obosi, Igwe Chidubem Iweka III, after the inspection, said the problem in the area could be traced to poor town planning and poor drainage network. He expressed delight that it was being addressed by the present leaders of the community. The Igwe also said he was impressed by the high quality of the peoject. He commended the president-general and his lieutenants for their good work in the community.
He noted that fatalities had been recorded in the area in the past owing to the dangerous topography, but the state government responded in those moments. Moreover, he said government should do more for the people.
The monarch frowned at those who built houses without proper planning and equally advised the community to arrest those who dumped refuse in the water channels.
He said, “Initially, houses were being built randomly because of bad planning. Different families sold lands indiscriminately to others and people were just building as if there would be no tomorrow. Walk through this community and you find out there are so many dead end streets that lead to nowhere, which should have been opened for smoother movements and access. The damage is enormous but the most important thing is to ensure there are no more violations in the master plan.”
He also stressed the need for the people to abide by all the precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic as directed by government.
Other executives at the event were the secretary, Asomba Alex, Tony Ezeh and Okafor Augustine, one of the engineers. They expressed delight that the area was already experiencing a new lease of life.