From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Ravaging massive gully erosion is at the verge of cutting off the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and five communities in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of Edo State from access to other parts of Benin, the state capital. The affected six communities are Iguo-Osaigie, Utteh, Iguo-Hana, Iguo-Efosa, Oke-Okehn and Okun Magiajemen.= Already, the only road linking the communities to the university has been severely impacted while the Senior Staff Quarters and Senior Staff Club of the university are under threat.
The resultant flood from the erosion fell the school’s fence on several occasions even as the gully also built a host lodge for criminal elements to harbour in because of its long stretch that has taken over most expanse of land belonging to the school.
Besides, the gully cut off the alternative route and cross border bridge linking Ugbowo to Ikpoba River, just as it halted the on going construction of the Ekosodin Road that links the area to the New Lagos-Benin Expressway. A signpost in the area indicated that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had apparently awarded the contract in the past.
UNIBEN Vice Chancellor, Prof Lilian Salami, recently raised the alarm over the erosion: “If urgent action is not taken, in the next rainy season, the institution may lose some of its buildings to the erosion.
“Officials of the Edo State Government and the World Bank have visited the site. Plans are on top gear to also bring the issue before the Presidency.”
The situation prompted some staff and students of UNIBEN and residents of the communities to call on relevant authorities to rescue them from the imminent danger waiting to happen if urgent steps are not taken to check the erosion.
Secretary General, Efosa Community, Aghahowa Obayinwana, pleaded that necessary authorities should come to put an end to the innumerable damages the gullies have done to them: “Delay is dangerous. A situation like this where over five communities have been crippled and means of livelihood taken, crime becomes inevitable.”
Similarly, a lecturer, Faculty of Management Science, UNIBEN, Dr Uwagbor Eboigbe, said the situation could aggravate if not checked: “As we speak, this gully ravaged road has among other damages rendered many staff homeless and the Staff Club where we ease off after a tensed working day. You can see from the signpost that this project has been awarded at different intervals.
“Sometimes on our own, we have made informal appeals to relevant authorities at Abuja and Benin, yet no result. I am now appealing on this ground for aggressive positive measures to be taken. It will be one fall too many should UNIBEN go down.
“If the fund needed is too much for one agency to foot, they should employ a syndicated approach and collectively get it done. If the situation is not given an aggressive response, UNIBEN may go down within the next six months and the consequences would be too enormous.”
Also student, Ewainse-Etin Musa, appealed to government and concerned agencies: “Government should not waste any more time now that no lives have been reported lost and to claim to be concerned and working when the ills are done.
“I am particularly appealing to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who is a product of this institution not to let this calamity befall us in his time. This is already a death trap. If in two months nothing is done to this, we will be forced to come out massively and halt school activities; make this death den the only useable route for all instead of Ugbowo Lagos-Benin Expressway until this road is done.”