Ikotnkebre community in the municipal area of Calabar, the Cross River State capital, can now heave a sigh of relief after Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), intervened to stop a ravine which has devastated the area in its tracks.
The ravine which started in 2004 was allegedly submerging an average of two houses during each torrential downpour and is said to have swept away five persons and over two hundred houses before NEWMAP awarded contract which closed up the gully.
Speaking while on site inspection to the place, Dr Fidelis Anukwa, the Cross River State Coordinator of NEWMAP, said the state government with the assistance of the World Bank had to intervene to mitigate on the devastation the ravine was inflicting on the community to stop further loss of lives and destruction of property.
“We are pleased with the progress of work and the quality of work delivered can stand the test of time and with this, even if rains falls everyday, the terror it inflicted on residents of this area will no more be there”.
He said government was not aware of the existence of the ravine until it had inflicted severe damage to both land and property prompting government to intervene.
“My advice to communities in the state is to abide by building codes and avoid necessary sand mining which are usually the cause of erosion which eventually creates ravines leading to devastation of land and property”, he said.
Engineer Ayo Adedeji, the Managing Director of Akpaven Construction company, the firm handling work on the place said the depth of the ravine was over two hundred metres and had expanded to about five different directions from the original spot where it started.
“In the layman’s understanding, the depth of the ravine was about two tall palm trees placed on each other and it had expanded to six fingers owing to delay in carrying out mitigation efforts”.
He said the entire place where soil was eroded by the ravine is being refilled so that the land can be reclaimed for residents to return to rebuild their homes which were swept away.
He called for steady funding of the project to allow for speedy progress of work since the weather was still friendly.
Mr Emmanuel Ewa, the Secretary of Ikotnkebre Community said the people can now sleep with two eyes closed following the construction work carried out in the place and appealed to government to assist those who lost houses to rebuild them.
“Some of our community members are in psychiatric hospital while some have died because of the trauma from losing their homes and some children are squatting in very terrible places. We ask government to compensate those who have lost their homes to save lives”.