By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA — AT least 10 houses have been submerged in gullies by erosion and many rendered homeless in three villages of Isuochi in Umunneochi local government area of Abia State.
Similarly, many other buildings in the villages are currently on the verge of collapse, while others are under serious threat due to heavy flooding in the area.
The affected communities are Umuobasi Mbala, Umuaku, and Umudim Ngodo villages of Isuochi.
Vanguard observed that some of the affected buildings included a storey building each at Umuaku and Umuobasi Mbala respectively.
Farms were also destroyed by the gully erosion, which is fast eating deep into other parts of the villages.
Information from the state Ministry of Environment said no less than N8 billion would be required to effectively tackle erosion menace in the area, stressing this was clearly beyond the capacity of the state government.
Meanwhile, the member representing Umunneochi in the Abia State House of Assembly, Prince Ikedi Ezekwesiri, said the threat began last year, following heavy flooding in the area.
The lawmaker said he had earlier drawn the attention of officials of the State Ministry of Environment to the problem.
He said: “We have never witnessed such dangerous devastation before and this is more worrisome in the sense that these gullies developed in less than one year.
“This is certainly beyond the state government and I appeal to the State Ministry of Environment to prepare a robust report that will enable the Federal Government to intervene through the ecological fund.
“In the meantime, I will urge residents of the area to do the little they can to ensure that the situation did not worsen while we wait for the Federal Government to assist us.”
He appealed to the Federal Government to come to the assistance of the people to save them from further hardship.
In his reaction, the Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Environment, Mr. Bernard Ogbonna, lamented the devastation he said was beyond the capacity of the state government.
“We are sending a distressed call to the Federal Government to rescue our people from this dangerous predicament so that the affected communities will not be wiped out.
“This is a national disaster that requires the intervention of the Federal Government because it is beyond our capacity,” Ogbonna said.
According to him, it will require over N8 billion to check the gullies in the three affected communities.
“The difficulty there is that no amount of engineering intervention will make you reclaim all that has been lost,” Ogbonna lamented.
One of the victims at Umuobasi Mbala, Mr. Aaron Ezinwa, an octogenarian, lamented that the community did its best to check the problem but added that their effort was not good enough.
“Our community raised N450, 000 to buy lump stones which we used to check the erosion but everything was washed away within a very short period,” Ezinwa disclosed.