From Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba
The late Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, in one of his hit songs, said water has no enemy. He was right because water is needed for diverse purposes.
However, for residents of Ohanku Road, a densely populated suburb of Aba, Abia State, floodwater is their number enemy, especially the one caused by excessive rainfall or burst channels and reservoirs. The floodwater during the rainy season kills and destroys property, including homes, pathways, farmlands and other belongings while on rampage.
Communities around Ohanku Road are in pains over the washing away of their only access road to the city centre.
For Aba residents, Ohanku Road, which traverses Ngwa Road through Ndiegoro, Akoli and Umuogele Mbato communities, Aba South and Owerreaba, Amauda, Abayi Nchokoro and Akanu Ngwa in Ugwunagbo, before heading to Ohanku Ndoki, Ukwa East Area, it means several things to many.
To some, it is a slum with cheap living conditions suitable for those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder.
The snag in living and or doing business in the area is the suffering that has been the lot of the landowners and non-indigenes that joined them to develop and grow the locality.
For many years, attempts to build infrastructure, including roads, have ended as election campaign promises. No more, no less, while the suffering continues.
On their part, residents resorted to patronizing dealers in rubber shoes, which every resident wore to meander through the usually flooded and stinking pathways to carry out daily activities.
This year, the situation seems worst, with heavy flooding that left deep craters in many parts of the six-kilometre stretch, from Ngwa Road to Owerreaba.
Traditional ruler of Ohazu, comprising Ndiegoro, Akoli and Ijeorji communities, Eze Sunday Emejiaka, told Daily Sun that residents of the area were in dire need of government’s intervention.
Commending the state government for reconstructing Ngwa Road, which was abandoned for decades, Emejiaka said he has found it difficult reaching his subjects, due to poor access and flooding.
He noted that because of the terrain and poor state of infrastructure, the area was looked down on by people living in other more accessible parts of the town.
He said: “We are looked upon as people of the slum, where hunger, unemployment and criminal activities are on the increase. I think that is why they call us ‘Ama Nmong’, meaning those living in the slum area.”
Chairman of Aba South Traditional Rulers’ Council and ruler of Umuogele Mbator, Eze Ibe Enyeazu, lamented the state of Ohanku Road, regretting that the contractor handling thez project was very slow in reconstructing the road.
According to the traditional ruler, “People were happy when, after so many years of its abandonment, parts of the destroyed road surfaces that had created gullies were scraped in preparation for full reconstruction work to commence.
“The current heavy rainfall, coupled with flooding, has rendered the entire stretch of the road impassable. Floodwater enters commercial and residential buildings, killing people, destroying properties and making life unbearable.
“We are really suffering and cannot go out to other parts of the town.”
A bus driver plying the route, Chidiebere Ikechukwe, said he and his colleagues lose so much for engaging their buses on the flooded Ohanku Road.
“We spend so much money to repair and service our vehicles after plying the road. It is not easy but we considered the plight of the people to peg transport fares at N150 per person per trip,” he said.
It was discovered that buses charge between N300 and N400 per person and avoid movement to certain areas whenever it rains.
Commercial motorcycle riders (okada) and tricycle operators (keke) usually collect higher fares during such situations.