By Joe Effiong, Uyo
Ikot Obio Atai community in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has been deserted, the throne of monarch ravaged and the king sent on exile.
The community is not facing any war nor any other social upheaval like banditry but natural terror: flood, which has sent nearly half of the community packing.
Armed with no weapon or idea on how to combat the vicious flood, the village head, Chief Mkpong Okon Mkpong, fled from his palace at No. 85 Urua Ekpa Road to Udo Usanga Street in Uyo LGA, to rule over his community.
The flood, which has taken more than three kilometre of the village, equally affected many adjoining streets in the area, including Afaha Oku, Imo, Udo and Usanga, among others.
More than 120 houses have also been taken over by the flood, while more than 500 residents have been sacked from their houses, turning them to refugees in their homestead.
A dangerous gully erosion along Akpan Etong Street has swallowed some houses even as a man was reported to have died recently in the menacing flood
Though Ikot Obio Atai or Urua Ekpa Road is in Itu LGA, the affected communities are within Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) and the flooded area is less than two kilometres from the main gate of the town campus of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO).
Kufreabasi Edidem, who represents Itu constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, who is also an indigene of Ikot Obio Atai, said he was the chairman of Itu council area during the administration of Godswill Akpabio when the flood menace started.
He recalled that all the state government did was to refer him to the then deputy governor, who facilitated officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to visit the village and share relief materials to the victims.
Edidem claimed that as a member of the House of Assembly, he brought the state Commissioner for Environment and Works to inspect the flood site.
He said he forwarded the complaint to the state government, with the hope that the flood site would be included in the 2022 Akwa Ibom State budget.
“By God’s special grace, I am sure it will be in the budget by next year,” he said
On why he has not brought the issue before the assembly under matter of urgent public importance, Edidem retorted: ” Do you want the thing on the floor or you want the problem solved? So if you want the problem solved, it is when you are a legislator and you don’t have good relationship with the executive and the executive does not listen to you that is when you bring matter to the floor of the house to catch the attention of the executive. But if the executive is already listening to you. The commissioner for finance and commissioner for environment followed me, they made the engineering drawings and they are working on the next year budget. It has been put in the budget, so what do you want the matter on the floor? It is for sensationalism or what?”
A garri seller, who identified herself simply as Mercy, lamented that the flood has sacked many residents of the area and crippled their businesses as students of UNIUYO, who were the bulk of tenants in the area as well as patrons of businesses have left the environment.
She stated that there was no natural stream or body of water, rather the new roads like Udoette, UNIUYO and Itam Market areas, among others contribute to the flooding of the area which is the lowest point around.
A resident and a keke rider in the area, Titus Ekpe Sunday, told our correspondent: “My room is flooded anytime it rains. When it rains for about two or three hours, we relocated from our rooms. If you were here the other day when it rained, you will not come up to this point.”
Sunday explained that they have no option than to live there because they do not have money to rent new accommodation or build new houses, stressing: “After the rain, we scoop the water and go back to our wet rooms.”
Mr. Ekpe Asukwo, landlord of 41 Urua Ekpa Road, lamented that residents cannot quantify their losses over the years because of the menace, appealing to the state government to come to their rescue.
The sacked village head of Ikot Obio Atai, Chief Mkpong, said the flood problem was beyond the village’s capacity to handle, noting that the community had written several letters to successive governments in the state to no avail.
”The community has written to the various governments but nothing has happened. Since 1999, nothing has happened. If it was possible, the community would have addressed the problem. It is difficult for us. Governor Udom Emmanuel should come and help us. We are all members of PDP. It is sad that even the village head ‘s house is under water yet they say that Akwa Ibom State is beautiful,” he said.