By Maduka Nweke
The Anambra State House of Assembly has decried the poor and slow pace of work at erosion sites in spite of the annual budgetary allocation. Edward Ibuzo, Chairman, House Committee on Environment, expressed dissatisfaction when the Ministry of Environment appeared before the House to defend its 2023 budget on Wednesday.
Ibuzo said the Committee visited some of the erosion sites and drains and discovered that some of the projects had been abandoned while the level of work at some site was poor and slow.
He said that erosion problems should be prioritised, noting that Anambra has been described as the headquarters of erosion menace in the country. “The worst erosion sites in Anambra include Agulu, Nanka, Adazi-Nnukwu, Oko, Ozubulu, Nnewi Ichi, Onitsha, Awka, Oba and others. The menace is even expanding and has eaten up over 50 per cent of the land mass in the state, while also threatening the lives and property of people in the affected areas.
“It is sad that every year, the ministry will present projects on erosion control and disilting of drains across the state; we will approve funds but all we see is zero implementation. The residents, our constituents do not feel the impact of the yearly budget. It is a waste of time that every year we gather here to approve your budget without any work,” he said.
Reacting, Mr Felix Odimegwu, State’s Commissioner for Environment, attributed the poor and slow place of work to lack of funds. Odimegwu said that the present administration was prepared to tackle the menace this time around to forestall the scourge. “Fund release was small and it affected our budget performance in 2022. This time, we want to devote more time to pre-erosion management by nipping in the bud erosion before it occurs.
“We are working with researchers in various institutions of learning to identify key erosion sites, obtain the erosivity and erodibility index of every location in the state. This way, we can prioritise tree planting and other erosion control mechanisms in locations with higher probability of erosion. Under my ministry, we will regulate the reckless endangerment of our environment by illegal sand miners and others whose activities pose danger to our environment,” he said.
The sum of N62 million was allocated to the Ministry of Environment while agencies under the ministry such as Leisure Parks and Street Beautification Agency got N217 million. The Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project got N1 billion, the Clear Drainage and Forest Preservation Agency also got N1 billion in the 2023 budget.