Flash flood causing gullies has so far affected over 200 families around St Peter University of the Catholic Diocese of Awka.
Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Barely two weeks after the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency, warned that 14 local government areas in Anambra State were at high risk of flooding this year, the prediction is already happening.
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Acting Director-General of the agency, Mr Olayinka Ogunwale, who was represented by Director, Hydrology, Clement Nze at a sensitisation workshop on the 2018 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), in Awka, called on the state Government and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to intensify efforts to mitigate flood outbreak.
Some of the councils, it said, might be hit hard by the natural disaster include Aguata, Idemili North, Ogbaru, Anambra-East and West, Njikoka, Anaocha, Ayamelum, Dunukofia, Orumba-North and Onitsha-North and South.
For residents of Oduke Layout in Obosi, rainy season has been a big nightmare since 2013 when a construction company which handled the construction of Ezeiweka Road, instead of connecting the drainage channel through a big water collector that passes through Ibollo Layout to Onitsha-Owerri road stopped the route midway thereby making all the water that drops once it rains to flood the Oduke Layout.
Since then, the people have been crying out for government attention and solution. They had written several letters, embarked on advocacy visits and peaceful demonstration yet no positive result.
No fewer than 5,000 residents of the area are reportedly trapped, several buildings submerged with property worth millions of naira destroyed by the environmental devastation.
Daily Sun reporter who has followed their predicament over the years gathered that the design for the reconstruction of the drainage channel was done during the administration of former governor Peter Obi but it could not be executed before his tenure expired.
So, when Chief Willie Obiano came in, the people followed it up and the then commissioner for Works, Law Chinwuba visited the area and assured them that their problem would be addressed.
Prior to the re-election of the governor, the situation became a campaign issue as opposition candidates promised to turn the area to paradise once they were voted into power.
The people, after due consultations, decided to pitch their tent with the incumbent. And as if to show appreciation for their loyalty, the Obiano administration awarded the contract for the reclamation of the flooded area to a construction company which moved its equipment immediately to site few weeks before the November 18, 2017 election.
It started sand filling the area. Though residents expressed reservation on their mode of operation since they expected the company to start with construction of gutters, they still remained hopeful that anyhow, their saviour had come.
Even some tenants who had earlier packed out of the layout started returning in trickles. But their joy was shortlived. Soon after sand filling some portions of the flooded area, the company packed up its equipment and left. Those who should know told Daily Sun that the company management told them point blank that they had to leave because government failed to fulfill its own part of the deal by financing them.
Now, the situation at Oduke layout is so pathetic that while others rejoice when it rains, it is the other way for them. Rain brings them pain and misery. The popular saying that after the rain comes sunshine does not apply to them. Instead, it is after rain comes flooding.
It takes an average of five hours after rain for flood to recede in Oduke Layout and when it is heavy rain, it might take four to five days before residents can come out of their homes, use their vehicles or even allow children to go to school.
Christian Madubeze, Sylvester Uzor and the President General of the Community, Nicholas Okechukwu who spoke in tears when the reporter visited the area last week sent a distress call to the state government to take up their case as an emergency.
“We are like internally displaced people right now. Over 5,000 people living here are trapped. No entry and exit route for us. Buildings have been submerged. Schools destroyed with little children dying in the past from the flooding. This is an emergency case and our situation requires immediate attention or we may perish forever,” they lamented.
When contacted on telephone, Commissioner for Works, Marcel Ifejiofor said he could not talk much on phone.
“I don’t discuss official matters on the phone because I don’t know you. All I know is that the people concerned have raised their issue and we are working on it. That’s the much I can tell you,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ongoing Akpo-Mbaraoye Achina-Ogwu Nganga-Onne-Agbudu-Ogboji road awarded by the immediate past and inherited by the present administration, has been cut-off by gully erosion.
Flash flood causing gullies on the road necessitated by the abandonment of the project in Achina Community of Aguata Local Government Area led to the cut off. It has so far affected over 200 families around St Peter University of the Catholic Diocese of Awka.
Those affected find it difficult to access their ancestral homes and could only park their vehicles at upland and trek kilometres home. A community leader, Celestine Ezeanyim lamented their plight while inspecting the palliative intervention by Chief Modestus Umenzekwe.
And as predicted, it has been rain of sorrow in parts of Anambra state as flood ravaged the areas this rainy season.