By Fred Iwenjora
Despite that he was born and raised in Atani , a community along the River Niger and headquarters of Ogbaru LGA of Anambra state and is very familiar with the big River having swam, fished and played in it as a kid, Comrade Arinzechukwu Awogu, Transition C ommittee Chairman did not reckon that one day in his life time, he would have to commute to work paddling a canoe.
This is the situation the former SSA to Governor Willie Obiano has found himself. No thanks to the river Niger which as predicted earlier in the year by National Meteorological Agency NIMET has become angry overflowing its banks, destroying farmlands and property worth millions of naira as well as displacing many people across the length and breathe of Nigeria more especially people around the banks of the many rivers of the country.
Awogu whose task has been multiplied by the emergency situation leaves home early so as to meet the needs of the three IDP camps set up for displaced persons as well as deal with the daily routine of his work. He also comes back later than he used to.
But his canoe with the paddle is usually anchored at the bank of the yet to be overtaken portion of the river to enable him move in and out of his house with ease because the only easiest way to access offices and people’s houses in the community is by canoe.
In a chat he said “you can see I commute to work these days on canoe. I love to paddle myself because I am a true son of the soil. These are interesting times really. My canoe is permanently anchored for easy movement. More communities are being over taken every day and the IDP camps are swelling with more victims. My job description has increased tremendously. We had woken up one morning to see water overtaking the entire neighbourhood.
On a daily basis water continues to surge and grow that roads have become rivers were you have to paddle or be paddled to work or to be connected with friends and family. Over 10,000 people have been displaced while more than 3000 households have been affected and no Ogbaru community is immune from this devastation. From Odekpe to Atani, down to Ogbakuba till Ogwu Ikpele as well as other communities, the story of devastation is being told. People wake up to see that they have been over taken by water. They started to scamper to safety. This is a big problem for all and I fear that it may not abate soon. I can see signs that it may take the nature of the infamous flooding of 2012.”
When asked about the current state of things in the LGA Comrade Awogu said “I started with mobilization of the entire agencies of emergency management in the council and beyond including the officials of NEMA and ASEMA and we assessed the extent of damage and devastation. I also set up a flood management committee which has in turn set up three up and running IDP camps. We officially took the matter to the working Governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano who has urgently responded by directing more relief materials to the IDP camps across the affected communities in Anambra state.
I also commend him for paying on the spot visit to see things for himself, cheer the people and assure them of government’s plan to support them in this very unfortunate times. He also directed all agencies of government to put all hands on deck.
I fear of possible health hazards and epidemic because of ruptured sewers and soak-aways. I have also sent out SOS message to EEDC to disconnect electricity in the affected areas because some of the poles bearing current had been submerged”