George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
In the southern part of Nigeria the people usually look forward to the rainy season to soften the earth for the commencement of the farming season .
But in recent times, each rainy season has become a nightmare for residents of Owerri, the capital of Imo State and its environs because of the resultant flooding of major roads and homes in the metropolis of Owerri.
Monday of last week, major roads in the metropolis, especially the major Okigwe, Chukwuma Nwoha, Item, Ikengbu, works layout were all flooded after a heavy down pour that lasted for hours rains.
Most residents of the capital city have blamed the incessant flooding of the state capital in recent times on the on going urban renewal project of Governor Rochas Okorocha saying that most of the drainage system which drains water away whenever it rains have all been blocked during the road expansion.
Engr. Austin Ifeanyi pointed out that the problem of flood being experienced in recent times in the metropolis and its suburbs is as a result of the blockage of the manholes that takes water to either Nworie or Otamiri rivers have all been blocked as a result road expansion.
According to him , “ Owerri the capital city is situated in a valley and the designers of the Owerri master having that in mind had built manholes and under ground storm drainage channeling same to both Nworie and Otamiri rivers so that the city and its suburbs would not be flooded.
But unfortunately these drainages have been blocked especially when Governor Okorocha commenced his urban renewal and a result whenever there any heavy rain the entire roads in the city including residential areas like Trans -Egbu, Works layout , Ikengbu, Akwakuma World bank , Amakohia and MCC road.
So, the only way the recent flooding in the metropolis can be stopped is for the government to reopen these drainages.
Right now the state government has covered the drainage along whethral road as the road is been expanded “.
Also, Mr. Chikere Okechukwu, an Architect noted that the problem is not the expansion of the existing roads in the capital city but that the projects are poorly executed as the new drainages constructed to replaced the previous ones are too narrow and shallow to take the raging flood away as they collapse in the process.
“You will discover that the roads be opened up in the capital city and even those outside of the city were not properly designed with good drainage system and so when it rains the whole city is flooded. Whenever it rains heavily you can’t ply the Okigwe road because you could swept away by the raging flood coming from Orji because the former storm drains were destroyed and replaced with narrow and shallow ones which often collapsed because of the force of the flood”. He said.
Similarly, Paul Nnodim lamented that it is only under the current administration that roads are been constructed by unknown companies without design unlike other states where known construction companies are engaged in road constructions.
He said : “ The problem we have in this state is that those handling road contracts are not known and the worst part of it is that those roads are built without any design .Take for instance the current road expansion on the Whethral road where the existing drainage system has been destroyed is a case in point and as result when it rains there would be flooding and it those who live around that area that would bear the brunt of what the government is now doing in the name of urban renewal.”
Recalling the nightmarish experience he had last year, Obinna Akuwudike who lives at the Federal Housing Estate, Trans- Egbu told Oriental News that last October was the worst he had experienced in the past five years as his house and twenty others we virtually under the water as both cars were submerged .
He said that the problem of flooding in the area started five years ago, but that it got worst two years ago when the state government contractors blocked the the main drainage channel at Chukwuma Nwoha.
“In the last five years we have been battling with the problem of flooding in the estate because of lack of drainage but the problem was compounded in the last two years when some contractors working for the state government blocked the drainage at Chukwuma Nwoha and later abandoned the construction. And ,as a result whenever it rains heavily the estate is flooded. We have complained severally to the government about it but nothing has been done about it”.
He expressed the fear that since the government has refused to do the needful and to continue the work which has been abandoned that the flooding may get worse this year following the forecast by NIMET that there would more rains this .