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A time bomb ticking to explode…

FG comes to Auchi’s help

By Favour Nnabugwu

Many communities and towns have been ravaged and rendered inaccessible by gully erosion in some Nigerian states. Gullies in some parts of the South East extend to depths of over 120m to 2km wide worsened by an annual rainfall of between 2000-3000mm, especially in the Niger Delta, making most of the rivers to overflow into adjoining farms and settlements, resulting extensive damage to the soil.

Like a time bomb ticking to explode, erosion indicates physical loss of available land for cultivation, loss of homes, farm crops, and disruption of communication routes, financial losses and its attendant hydrological problems.

Many buildings and infrastructures have collapsed from gully erosion which has rendered over 5,000 people homeless. Gully erosion is estimated to destroy property worth over N500million yearly with over 20 tons of fertile soil washed off annually.

The most recent is the gully erosion in Auchi, Edo state. Other states that suffer erosion include the Katsina, Imo and Anambra, Efon Alaye in Ondo State, Ankpa and Okene in Kogi State, Gombe in Bauchi State, among others.

There is a blink of hope with Julius Berger Nigeria assigned by the federal government to survey and evaluate the extent of damage caused by the Auchi erosion and submit their recommendations to the Ministry of Works.

Julius Berger is however expected to examine measures that are designed for gullied areas and perhaps group them into catchment measures such as terracing and interceptor drains; slope measures involving slope reduction and wicker works, and invert measures such as check dams. Construction experts have alluded that there is need to focus on the velocity of water flow and the carrying capacity of run-off water which allow for safe disposal of the excess water

Minister of Works, Arc Mike Onolememen assured that the federal government is committed to tackle the erosion of the Auchi-Jattu-Okene road which he admitted, has claimed several houses and farmlands.

The minister informed that government has fashioned out a holistic drainage plan for the area but sort the collaboration state and local governments in finding lasting solution to the menace of erosion plaguing the area.

He observed that the erosion problem is a serious threat that requires the construction of 40metre embankment in order to reduce the force of the water. He noted that the ministry has taken steps to fast track the procurement process and ensure that the contractor fully mobilize to site in a couple of weeks.

Onolememen said that the federal government has initiated an interim measure to recover the road adding that in no distance time, a contractor will be mobilized to site to commence work.

The Otaru of Auchi in Edo State, Aliru Momoh did appeal to the federal government to redouble efforts in assisting the state to find a lasting solution to gully erosion ravaging Auchi town and it environs.

Momoh described the Auchi gully erosion is on a daily basis intensifying day by day it intent destruction of the area.

He blamed contractors that had in time past been contracted to carry remediation work at erosion sites in the area as grossly incompetent.

According to him, “The Federal Government awarded the contract to incompetent contractors and we cannot really point out exactly what they have done on the sites”.

As if he read the minds of the government, the Auchi king advised the government engage competent contractors such as Julius Berger to handle the ersosion in Auchi.

Minister of Environment, Mrs Hadiza Mailafia amplified the position of Onolememen on federal government’s commitment to deal with the disaster.

She said that the erosion would have serious political, economic and social implications on the people of the area and other Nigerians plying the road.

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State Governor blamed the Auchi-Jattu erosion wash-out on faulty design of the road saying, “I have a general feeling arising from my conversation with people that most erosions along federal highways are as a result of faulty designs.

For instance, Oshiomhole cited, “the Queen Ede erosion was as a result of the aftermath of the construction of the Benin –Asaba road. Obviously somebody did not do the right design and if they did, the contractor did not do the right work and it created a situation that led to serious erosion that has claimed several buildings and destroyed farmlands.”

Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra has appealed to the Federal Government to redouble efforts in assisting the state to find lasting solution to erosion and flooding in the state.

The governor said that the state had the worst erosion problem in Sub- Sahara Africa with over 400 active erosion sites.

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