By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA- RESIDENTS of Bayelsa State are livid at the revolting condition of Epie Creek, a rivulet that runs through the range of Yenagoa, the state capital, which they believe will not only boost the aesthetics, but facilitate development of the state if the State Government properly harnesses its potentials.
According to the natives, in the past, the alluring creek flowing with majestic splendor from the gateway town of Igbogene down to Ovom community before emptying into the Ekole River was not only navigable all through the year, but also serves as natural drains to the sister communities in the area.
Visions of precursor govts
They said the initial plan of the pioneer civilian administration of the late Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha and his successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was to transform the creek into a tourist haven by making the water navigable all year so as to encourage residents to take boat cruise from the gateway town of Igbogene to the heart of the capital, thereby easing pressure on the road.
According to them, government’s intention then was to plant whistling palms along the creek to give the capital city the look of a mariner, but today, the reverse is the case, as the creek with rich tourism potentials for the state, is abandoned,.
Inhabitants are, however, aghast as to why until date the state government has not deemed it wise to resuscitate the project and re-launch the state by virtue of the fact that once developed, investors will be attracted to acquire enough land by the banks and build good structures that will beautify the landscape and improve the aura of Yenagoa.”
Creek Haven as a problem – Morris, environmentalist
Renowned environmentalist, Comrade Alagoa Morris, who bemoaned the circumstance of the creek, said: “All other things being equal, one of the major challenges facing the Epie Creek today is the lack of thoroughfare. The location of Creek Haven, the Government House at the Onopa/Ovom end, has denied anyone who thought of plying the creek from Igbogene to link the Ekole River, as they cannot achieve that goal because the Government House environment of the Epie Creek has security implication. No one would be allowed to sail through on the Creek.
“Even though the Hon. Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure talked beautifully about three years ago of plans to make the Epie Creek serve the tourism intents of the state government, a critical observation of how government constructed the bridge at Etegwe across the creek, does not tell anyone that the authorities actually mean to make the creek navigable…as that bridge should have been elevated far higher than it currently is to make provision for canoes, water bikes and other small marine crafts sail through,” he said.
Morris asserted: “Due to lack of thoroughfare at the Government House axis and other bridges across it, including monkey bridges, siltation has been induced. Most sections of the length of the creek – from Igbogene to main Yenagoa, apart from the flood season, you hardly see water. What you see are overgrown grasses, shrubs and trees even at the centre of the creek.”
Morris noted with sadness, “Every day we hear on the state-owned radio station that the Bayelsa Project is a collective one and all should contribute their quota. But it is most unfortunate that those in government do not consider our contributions worthy of consideration.
“Whether to serve tourism purpose, navigational or our environmental (flooding) needs, the government should muster the political will and commit enough resources to develop the Epie Creek.”
Exorbitant, but …
His words: “No doubt, it will be capital-intensive to develop it, but at the end, the dividend would be super. But, the location of Creek Haven is also affecting that navigation as thoroughfare has been denied.
“The government should ensure that the Epie Creek, which runs through the entire length of Yenagoa, is cleared of all debris and also deepen the creek to make it more navigable along with the upgrade of their natural water channels and major drainages or trunk lines emptying into the Epie Creek,” he added.