By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin City
Auchi in Edo State is on the verge of collapsing if something urgent is not done by the relevant authorities to check the devastating effects of gullies which have virtually swallowed several houses while over ten persons were said to have died.
Most worrisome is the recent gully along the Auchi-Jattu-Okenne road, which has now divided the road forcing motorists traveling to the north and the south east to follow a bush path, making the journey horrendous for motorists. Governor Adams Oshiomhole is worried over the devastating gully along Auchi-Okene road which led to an accident that claimed six lives.
Oshiomhole, who visited the area, last week, raised the alarm over the environmental crisis that may hit the area if the Federal Government fails to intervene urgently, just as he attributed the problem to the alleged failure of the Federal Government to employ the services of competent contractors.
The governor was more infuriated when he learnt that six persons lost their lives recently due to the gully. According to him, “I am very worried, very concerned and it’s extremely very painful that some innocent souls have been lost already.
And I don’t know why the Ministry of Works and FERMA give jobs to contractors that are not competent. When you give a job that requires seasoned civil engineers to handle to a one man business with no equipment, they end up doing more damage to the environment.
That is what happened at Auchi, and that is what is happening here because this problem has been there and they tried to mend it, but look at the damage they have caused. This disaster is the result of incompetent contractors.” Oshiomhole urged the Federal Government to deal with the disaster urgently to forestall further havoc, saying that “the Federal Government has to find one way or the other to deal with it because already six lives have been lost in the cause of vehicles trying to find alternative routes.”
He regretted that despite efforts by the state government to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the gullies, nothing meaningful was done to tackle the problem. “We have drawn their attention to this disaster before the ministers were dissolved early this year. It was very clear that this was a disaster waiting to happen. Everybody can see how this erosion was developing, incrementally, and now it is a very major issue, exactly the same way that of Queen Ede erosion developed”.
A community leader and veteran journalist, Alhaji Usman Abuda, regretted that several attempts made by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru H.Momoh,Ikelebe 111, to get the attention of the Federal Government on the issue had proved abortive. His words: “The Auchi gullies, through Warrake Road, Inu Umoru Street, up to Igarra Road, actually, when President Ibrahim Babangida was in power, there was a little solution where one Benin contractor was involved but the problem was beyond his capability and this was what the community people complained. “In fact one of the equipment was swallowed up by the gullies.
Then this recent one on Auchi-Jattu Road towards Okpilla Road around Iyuku junction, that problem just started and the flood passing there going straight behind the Auchi fertilizer company and emptying is into the Water Board premises after the Auchi-Igarra Road. If you go there now, you will see the devastation. It swallowed up a whole engine used by the Water Board.
“And the culvert they built there was a poor work. The community has cried out on several occasions but to no avail. We have cried to the Federal Government and whatever that is their reason for ignoring the Auchi gullies problem, only them know .
I feel a bit encouraged that with the breaking up of the Auchi-Okene Road which is a very busy road, the government came in. I hope that they will now for once look at the Auchi erosion problem. Lives have been lost there, houses have submerged. About eight houses have caved in at the gully erosion route by the Union Bank along Warake Road alone, not the ones that have been damaged in other parts of Auchi. Hundreds of people have been rendered homeless in Auchi and yet the Federal Government is doing nothing about it. And it is now threatening Auchi Town Hall. Besides that about three people died recently, some youths were carried away by flood.”
“The truth is that gully erosion problem, ecological problems nationwide, no state government has the financial capability to handle them. There are certain things we should not use to play politics. People say Auchi people are not PDP but the government is for the entire nation and not for a particular area. We have been very grateful to the Almighty Allah that, at the rate the flood goes, a lot of houses would have gone by now.
So it is not a state government matter and we have drawn the president’s attention to it. But they have to do something, like the one they are doing on the Auchi-Okpella Road could have cut off movement from other parts of the country towards Lokoja to Abuja. There would have been no alternative road except to pass Ajaokuta through the east.
“The issue is that this problem is above the state government. We have witnessed many rainy seasons, more than ten rainy seasons since this problem has been on ground and it is only Allah’s protection that has been keeping us. But it is certainly alarming and very frightening. We are looking up to Allah he has been very protective and that is just the situation”.