David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
For decades now, Umogbo community in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State has been living in fear of extinction following the level of erosion menace ravaging the area. The community only recently heaved a sigh of relief when the Anambra State Government under Governor Willie Obiano in collaboration with the World Bank awarded contracts to some foreign firms to control the menace.
However, the community’s current headache is the speedy execution of the work to forestall further devastations that could be caused by the ravaging erosion.
When Daily Sun visited the erosion site last week, one of the expatriate workers who pleaded anonymity said work was in progress, stating that it has a completion period of twenty four months having commenced work when 2018 was far spent.
He attributed the delayed mobilisation to site by the contracting firms last year, to the issue of compensation and relocation of the community members directly affected by the menace.
“There is no problem about funding for now. We are optimistic that the work will be completed on schedule. We are working round the clock to see that the contract is executed on schedule and according to specification,” the source said.
Regardless, Chairman of Umuogbo community, Mr Tony Nzewi who said the project started in July, 2018, commended the contractors for trying “because no one knows what they undergo as experts in their field to get the job fixed”, but urged them to expedite action to forestall any further destruction that may come with this year’s rainy season.
He recalled what the community had suffered, lost in the past before the recent intervention; explaining that the erosion had swallowed many buildings, farmlands, cash crops, economic trees and domestic animals that could not be quantified until government heard their cry “and that is why we do not want the execution to be delayed because we have suffered a lot.”
Nzewi said about five people lost their lives as a result of the erosion menace and some graves of their loved ones swept away with nothing to identify their resting places again.
According to him, before the project started those whose lands were about ten or fifteen metres to the edge of the erosion site were compensated by the Anambra State Government to enable the contractors work without any hindrance or molestation.
Another community leader and Vice Chairman of the community, Evangelist Nduka Johnson said that the work was moving on but not at the speed expected. He said what the construction firms had done within the space of time they started the project was not encouraging, “even though they are always at the site.”
One of the residents whose house is only few metres away from the erosion site, Chief Emma Orji said there was noticeable delay at the project execution. He said the community expected the firms to take adequate measures that would forestall rains from sacking the village “as the rains set in”. He appealed for increase in the tempo at which the construction work was being carried out and called on Governor Obiano to set up a monitoring mechanism to see that the project is completed on schedule.