Felix Ikem, Nsukka
Succour may have come the way of residents of the university town Nsukka, host of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State. This is because the state government said it has resolved to confront the perennial flood in the area.
Flood disaster has continued to ravage the town since 2016 when the construction of the Opi-Nsukka Road, Nsukka-Enugu Road and other roads within Nsukka metropolis destroyed houses and affected the ecosystem of the place. Daily Sun reported the havoc caused by flooding, including the death of 12 persons. One incident occurred in July 2017, when eight-year-old Ezinne Eze was killed in her compound along New Market Road, Alu Udele, Nsukka.
By the government’s reckoning, work was slated to have commenced on the sites by the weekend following Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s directive to the Ministry of Works to confront those affected areas. Commissioner for Information, Chidi Aroh, said the directive was for the ministry “to determine a lasting solution to contain the stormwater flood menace in Nsukka while awaiting commencement of the proposed comprehensive erosion water management works by the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), which is at the last design and environmental impact assessment stage.”
He said preliminary reports from the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure indicated that the situation may be as a result of blocked drainage channels and recent channelisation of flood catchment on Aku Road by Enugu Road, through Aludele Road, which had become prone to blockage due to the increased activities in the environment.
He urged residents to remain calm “as government is doing all within its powers to resolve this issue,” advising them to “ensure that drainages around their homes are not blocked for free flow of storm water.” The directive might have come as a result of a planned protest march by the people of Uwal-Ugwu; another community being ravaged by flood in Nsukka metropolis.
It was learnt that the jubilation that greeted road construction in Nsukka in 2016 was short-lived as the project became a nightmare barely six months after. The construction defects on the road network manifested with the wrong channelling of the drainage system of the roads, leading to deaths, submerging of many houses and other ecological disasters.
The incident, which started in August 2016, remained a source of worry and pain to Nsukka residents anytime another rainy season was around the corner. Many residents have continued to lose their properties to flood.
Our reporter went round the town recently. One resident, Mr. Joseph Ugwu, told him that he lost valuable property, including his new Carter motorcycle, to the flood that sacked the entire Uwal Ugwu community four years ago: “I can never forget that fateful day. I was in my shop at Ogige Main Market, Nsukka, when my wife called me that flood had taken over our building.
“I rushed down to my house at Uwal Ugwu here and what I saw was too big for me to explain. Our house was submerged with flood. I couldn’t see my new Carter motorcycle because it was washed away by the flood that afternoon. It was three days later that I found the motorcycle but it was already damaged. Up till now, I cannot use the motorcycle anymore.”
The flood of 2016 attracted the presence of Ugwuanyi who directed the construction company to re-channel the flood coming from Barracks Junction and Urban Girls Secondary School to avoid a reoccurrence. The governor, who extended an apology to the community for the incident, asked the construction company to dig a “burrow pit” where the floodwater would be absorbed.
Another resident, Mr Anthony Ezema, whose six-room apartment was completely destroyed by the flood disaster, lamented that the situation has been unbearable: “Let us hope for the best. Remember, after the visit of the governor, nothing else was done. There was no burrow pit to absorb the water neither was there any re-chanelling of the flood to any place.
“We have been living like those who don’t have leaders. Every rainy season, people in this area pack out their belongings to other neighbouring communities to avoid losing them to the flood. But now that the state government has issued a directive to confront the flood menace in Nsukka, let us hope they will tackle this disaster once and for all.”
Mr. Emmanuel Magbo was also a victim of the 2016 flood disaster. He lamented that: “Since then, nobody is living in my compound except me and my family. More than 20 tenants living in my compound had their valuables destroyed by the flood.
“We have appealed to government to help us but we are yet to see their help. Only last year, 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 by flood in 2016, which government is aware of because the governor visited the scene of the destruction? Now that government wants to visit this disaster by way of finding lasting solution to it, we pray they should do it fast before heavy rains come this year.”