From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River communities ravaged by erosion have kicked against the alleged plan by the World Bank to pull out of the state.
The communities including Ikot Enrobing, Akai Efa, Enima Omin, Goodluck Jonathan Bypass, Ekeya and Agiga all in Calabar metropolis are piqued that the World Bank has directed the Cross River State government to return money back to it so that the money can be redeployed to other states.
Speaking in behalf of the communities in Calabar at the weekend, the Village Head of Akai Efa, Her Highness, Henrietta Efa Akpera, said they have been notified of this sad development and it amounts to robing paul to pay peter.
HH Henrietta Efa said: “In 2017 a team of engineers visited our communities with a view to gathering information that will aid them prepare designs for the states sites.
“This excercise was done successfully and we were informed sometime in January 2021 that the World Bank has approved the designs for the civil works to commence.
“While waiting for works to commence, we have it on good authority that the World Bank has directed the Cross River State Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management to stop work and return the money to the World Bank so that it can be redeployed to other states.
“This is not only unjust, inequitable and unfair, it would amount to robbing paul to pay peter considering the very devastating state of our erosion sites”, she said.
She added that over 200 houses have been submerged in the raven affecting the six communities, fearing that the entire community is may be finally ravaged if the World Bank pulls out.
In his reaction, Francis Agaba, the Senior Special Assistant to the Cross River State governor on NEWMAP, said he is not aware of the demand by the World Bank.
He promised to take up the issue with the bank and stressed that the state government has paid it’s counterpart funds.
Speaking also, a resident of Akai Efa, Eno Ekapong, said the ravine started in 2019 after the construction of Okon Ekpo Crescent by the NDDC.
He said they did the road project without conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, and the road also had no gutters which precipitated the ravine in the community.
Another resident, Nelson Elizabeth, said life has been very difficult for those living down the ravine, adding that the community had to construct a wooden staircase evem as life has been very threatening for the women and children.