Okey Sampson, Aba
Indigenes of Umuhu Ezechi, a clan in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, who have not been home lately may not recognise their community next time they visit home. Climate change with it devastating effect is having serious toll on the agrarian, community.
The community bordered in the north by Ozuitem Abiriba in the south, Igbere in the east and in the west by Ameke Abam boasts of a large river basin made fertile all year round by the Igwu River; a river basin second only to Ebonyi River basin.
An on-the-spot observation showed that the clan sits atop a plateau with breathe-taking natural beauty, producing fascinating scenery that could only compare with Obudu Ranch Resorts in Cross River State.
All the niceties of nature notwithstanding, Umuhu Ezechi aside the growing threat of landslide also lacks good access road.
With equidistance of about six kilometres to her four neighbouring communities of Umuhu/Ozuitem; Umuhu/Abariba and Umuhu/Amaeke Abam as the connecting roads, it was gathered that the clan is at the verge of being cut off from the rest of the state as the only motorable road leading to it, is currently in a state of near collapse.
A community leader, Chief Umez Umez said prior to 2005 when the administration of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu constructed the Umuhu/Igbere road, the access roads the people were used to send their agricultural products to the urban centres were the Umuhu/Ozuitem and Umuhu/Amaeke roads. He said the roads were always in pitiable state particularly during the rainy season to the point that the communities making up the clan were usually inaccessible during the wet season.
In his words: “These roads were on their own hell on earth particularly during the rainy season, no vehicle no matter how rugged could come to our place and the people suffered greatly. To make things worse, the rainy season is when our people harvest most of their farm produce and they rotted away due to lack of access road to take them to urban centres to sell.”
He however, said the people heaved a sigh of relief when the administration of Kalu in 2005, constructed the Umuhu/Igbere road, thereby giving them a new lease of life and ending their agonizing years.
Regardless, the people blame the deplorable state of the road built 13 years ago to neglect by subsequent administrations after Kalu’s. Igwe, an Aba-based businessman from the area said: “If they (subsequent governments) had been doing minor repair works on the road, it would not have gone so bad and if there is nothing the present administration does on the road, we shall find it difficult to travel home by August or September, our people will be totally cut off from the rest of the state.”
If the state of the road is a source of worry to the people of Umuhu Ezechi, the landslide ‘submerging’ homes particularly in Amaugwu, a tiny and sleepy village in the northern fringes of the community, is frightening. It was gathered that this has destroyed some houses.
An indigene of the area who gave his name simply as Iheanyi said: “The landslide started two years ago, we were alerted by our relations at home of its effect and we all came back thinking it was what we could tackle but we cannot handle it, as it is far beyond our financial capacity and capability. As we speak, the landslide has completely destroyed a house and many are at risk of being destroyed if nothing urgently is done.”
Just the way Umez appealed to the Abia State government to rehabilitate their road as the community would not be able to shoulder the financial responsibility, Iheanyi also made a plea for urgent government intervention to control the impending environmental disaster.