By VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
Umike is village in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. The community is at the brink of becoming extinct, no thanks to the gully erosion that is ravaging the area. Several houses in the area have been swallowed by the erosion and the fear of the people is that if nothing is urgently done, the entire community might soon be washed away.
Against this backdrop, indigenes of the community have sent a Save Our Soul, SOS, appeal to both the state and Federal governments, as well as international donor agencies to come to their aid to stem the ravaging effects of the erosion.
This plea for urgent intervention is coming at a time that a former President of Awka Development Union Nigeria, AUDN, Mr. Pat Nzekwe, an engineer, embarked on palliative measures to ensure that the menace did not spread further.
Vanguard Metro, VM, learnt that the gully erosion, which measures about 60 metres deep and 60 metres wide, has consumed many houses and property worth millions of naira. The erosion which constitutes a threat to the lives of the inhabitants of the community, has washed away large quantities of arable farm land. It is believed to have developed as a result of massive flood channels coming directly from other parts of the state capital and worsened by the construction of the Awka inner roads.
Residents of Obuofu Umuike have in the last 10 years, been living in fear as the gully erosion kept coming and eating deep into their homes, making most of them to sleep with one eye open. Though the community leaders said they had previously appealed to the various tiers of government to close the gully nut with a view to stopping the menace permanently, nothing in the form of assistance has come their way. The result is that the gully has continued to advance at a terrific speed.
Secretary General of ADUN, Mr. Charles Ekwunife, in a letter addressed to Governor Peter Obi, said that only quick intervention by government would save the community from an imminent disaster. The letter read in parts: “We humbly write on behalf of the Central Executive Council of Awka Development Union Nigeria, ADUN, the traditional ruler of Awka, HRM Obi Gibson N. Nwosu, Eze Uzu II and the entire Awka community, especially the people of Umuike Village Awka to bring to your attention, the devastating hazards the residents of Obuofu Umuike Village Awka have been exposed to by flood and gully erosion.
It might interest your Excellency to know that a philanthropist and an illustrious son of Awka Engr. Pat Nzekwe Ibe single-handedly commenced work on the site to check the advancement of the gully to other parts of the area and had made considerable progress until the heavy downpour of Friday 15th an Saturday 16th March, 2013 which destroyed and collapsed the entire construction done in the site, including washing away of over 500 trips of latrine sand heaped in the site.
‘With the recent collapse of the already constructed culverts, flood retaining chambers and drainage system, the situation in the area has worsened and has therefore gone beyond the people’s control and that of Engr. Pet Nzekwe Ibe who committed several millions of naira in his control and reclamation bid in the site.
Now that the situation has got to a crisis point, something concrete has to be done by the local and state governments to assist the people of the area. The present situation has left the people of the area devastated and hapless in the face of such colossal damage and losses. They are becoming refugees in their own homes”.