Felix Ikem, Nsukka
When in 2016, Enugu State government embarked on massive road construction across Nsukka town, the joy of residents was rekindled. There was jubilation that the long neglected zone was once again remembered in the development plan of the state. Hopes were also high that the good access road will have a multiplier effect, especially for those living in the rural neighbouring communities in the local government.
However, six months after, the construction defects of the road network manifested with the wrong channelling of the drainage system leading to submerging of Uwal Ugwu community.
The ugly incident which happened in August 2016 has been a source of worry and pains to residents, especially as another rainy season is around the corner. Daily Sun learnt that thousands of residents lost property worth millions of naira to the incident.
Mr. Matthew Ugwu said he lost many property including his new motorbike to the flood that sacked the entire community.
“I can never forget that fateful day. I was in my shop at Ogige Main market, Nsukka when my wife called that flood has taken over our building. I rushed down to my house at Uwal Ugwu and what I saw was too much for me to explain. Our house was submerged. I couldn’t see my new Carter motorcycle because it had been washed away by the flood that afternoon. It was three days later that I found the motorcycle but it was already damaged.”
Daily Sun also learnt the incidence attracted the attention Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who directed the construction company to rechannel the flood coming from Barracks junction and Urban Girls Secondary School to avoid reccurrence. Governor Ugwuanyi who apologised to the community for the incident, asked the construction company to dig a borrow pit where the flood will be absorbed.
However, almost two years down the line, residents are still living in fear as no feasible measure was taken to prevent reccurrence of the August 2016 episode.
A resident, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuoke said the contractor never constructed any borrow pit.
“After the visit of the governor, nothing else was done. There was no borrow pit to absorb the water neither was there any rechanelling of the flood to any place. We have been living like those who don’t have leaders. Every year during rainy season, people in this area pack out to other neighbouring communities. We call on the state government to do something urgently before we lose our life to flood here.”
Daily Sun took a trip to the community. What our reporter saw spoke a great volume of total neglect, threat to life and properties and marginalisation. Some vehicles were seen trapped in the middle of the road due to the fact that some portion of the had been divided by the flood.
Mr. Anthony Ezema lamented that the community has been forgotten in the scheme of things as far as development is concerned in Enugu State.
“The road construction is now like a curse to our community. Any day there is rainfall, we don’t go out. If you went out before the rainfall, you don’t come back till about three hours so that the flood current would have reduced before you come back. If it is during school hours, especially in the morning before our children go to school, they will not go to school again that day because of flood.”
Asked when the unfortunate incident started, Mr. Ezema said it started immediately after the construction of Ugwuechara, Isiakpu, Urban Girls and Barracks roads.
“The water from all the areas were channelled to our community in 2016. They were so channelled as if here is a forest or bush; as if nobody lives here. So, when we foresaw what may likely happen as a result of channeling of rain water, we went to the ministry of works and lodged a complain. Some weeks later, we sent a delegation which I was part of. No action was taken. Then in August 2016, the worse happened. There was heavy rain and so many houses including mine were destroyed. So many houses were also submerged. We carried out a peaceful demonstration which attracted the presence of the state governor.”
He explained that Gov. Ugwuanyi, during his visit directed the contractor to rechannel the direction of flood to Ikwoka. He also suggested to the construction company to dig a borrow pit to absorb the rain water.
But since Gov. Ugwuanyi’s visit nothing has happened.
“In November last year, we went to the office of permanent secretary in the ministry of works with our traditional ruler Igwe Patrick Okolo to appeal to the conscience of the state government to do something about the menace. We told them to come to our aid as rainy season is now around the corner. Look at this my four room apartment; it was destroyed by flood. All the tenants were sacked. They kept on telling us that our case will be looked into. Up till now, no positive response to our appeal. We appeal to the government to rechannel the rain water to Ikwoka. One sad thing is that after wreaking havoc on our community, the same flood will burst at Ikwoka community. So, why not channel it to Ikwoka once and for all? We also need government’s help in the area of provision of electricity in our community.”
For Mr. Emmanuel Magbo, it is also a tale of anger and woe.
“In August 2016, the flood destroyed my fence, submerged my house and sacked all my tenants. Since then, nobody is living in my compound except me and my family. More than 29 tenants living in my compound had their valuable destroyed by the flood. We have appealed to government to help us but we are yet to see their help. Only last week, Nsukka local government served me a notice to pay my property rate which according to what they wrote is N245,000. How can I pay such a thing when nobody is living in my compound and my house was submerged, which government is aware of because the state governor visited the scene of the destruction? We also appeal to the government to help us with electricity because we don’t have transformer. We haven’t seen electricity since three years ago.”
Another affected resident, Mrs. Charity Ezugwu told Daily Sun that their six-room apartment which was about to be roofed has been destroyed by the flood.
“Each time there is rainfall, the building is submerged. We appeal to government to rechannel the flood and also help us with electricity supply.”
Daily Sun investigations showed that many people have continued to pack out of the community due to flood menace and lack electricity supply.