*Say we don’t want to stay idle at home; beg govt to rebuild schools
*Fishes swim in classrooms; thousands of Polobubo villagers displaced
By Jimitota Onoyume
POLOBUBO — IT was a pathetic sight at Tsekelewu and other Polobubo riverine communities in Warri North Local Government Area, Delta State, as primary school pupils kicked out by flood, moaned publicly, calling on the state government to reconstruct the schools, as they do not want to stay redundant at home, while their counterparts in the cities study.
NDV gathered that due to the catastrophe, the pupils, who were supposed to have resumed for the new academic session, September 8, had been forced home, as all their classes were taken over by water and fishes swimming in their classrooms.
We don’t want to stay home doing nothing
One of the weeping pupils, Master Wasai Destiny, a Primary six pupil of Minyen Primary School, Tsekelewu, asserted: “We are begging for urgent government attention, we do not want to sit down at home doing nothing. We that cannot go to big schools in the cities should not be left in this kind of condition. Government should come and bail us out; we want to go to school.”
Several schools and offices were shut down due to flooding within and around the premises when NDV visited. Besides the pupils, thousands of villagers were also displaced by overpowering flood.
Distressing pupils can’t resume —Headmistress
Headmistress of Minyen Primary School, Tsekelewu, Madam Kembe Pere, said the flood had been a recurring problem in the area, pleading that urgent steps be taken to redress it.
Madam Pere asserted that it was painful that pupils would not be able to resume immediately for the new academic session, which took off in the state September 8, as all the classes in the school have been taken over by water.
“The flood started last Sunday, but we have been experiencing this sort of situation for years, it happens every year and whenever it comes, there will be no school, the students will compulsorily have to go on ‘holiday.’ I am pleading with the government to help us to rebuild this structure”
Relocate victims to safe haven—Asoki,community leader
Community leaders, Messrs Dickson Asoki and Pa James Gbalubi, who also lamented the predicament of the people, said government should relocate residents to safe haven, provide them with relief materials as their houses had been taken over by flood.
“The things we will need the government to do for us immediately are to start talking of how to relocate our people to somewhere safe, they should start giving out relief materials. Our children are losing out in terms of education as their classrooms have already been taken over by flood, government should please start thinking of where to take our students to learn so they don’t lose out totally in the state’s educational system.
“As a community, we have been doing what we have done over the years whenever we have situations like this, but what we are saying is we can only do but a little and maybe it is because we have been using self-help all along that makes government feel we are comfortable. It is time for government to come and save us before it will be too late,” Mr. Asoki said.
Living with fear in our hearts—Pa Gbalubi
Pa Gbalubi added: “As it is now, the problem has gotten to the point of overwhelming our own communal efforts. We have gotten to the limit where we can no longer contain the situation. We need government to come now before it goes beyond salvaging. In the next one or two days, the ICT room of this school will be completely gone.”
“You can also see that the schools are flooded and people are now living in fear because their houses have been submerged. People can no longer sleep or go to their work places because they are not sure of what might happen to them next. Our people have no place to lay their heads. We are calling on the federal, state and local governments to come to our aid urgently.
“We have to start talking of the most urgent needs of the people first and that is that they have to come and save us from this disaster that is threatening our lives,” he stated.
Time for action on new Polobubo community
Youth Secretary of Polobubo communities, Comrade Markson Aboh, said they were aware of alleged approval by the Federal Government to reclaim a new town for them, urging the government to implement the approval.
He asserted: “We forwarded letters to the Presidency, right from the time of President Goodluck Jonathan, requesting that a new Polobubo should be reclaimed for us because this place can no longer support our living.
We need a new Polobubo and this place should be properly dredged. We are also aware that the approval has been given and we want that project to commence immediately so that situations like this can be mitigated.
“We want to move to higher grounds and without that, reclamation cannot done. We cannot even quantify our losses to flooding over the years; we have lost access to our means of livelihood long ago. This used to be a place where fishing and hunting activities happen; we can no longer practice our natural occupation again.
Drinking water ‘imported’ from Warri
“Since the intrusion of this salt water into our environment, plant species are no more in existence, fishes are not here anymore. All those freshwater fishes have all gone extinct. How do you quantify that? This issue has also taken away our drinking water; to drink water, we have to import from either Warri of other communities free of our kind of predicament.
We used to drink water from our river because this used to be a freshwater habitat, but now, we cannot even get water to drink from our own soil. It is either they send pure water to us from far away, or our people paddle distances to Chevron or Shell locations to fetch water from their taps,” he complained.
SOS to Chevron
According to him: “We have written to Chevron several times to close the channel they opened to the Atlantic Ocean because that is the source of the salt water and the silt deposit. If they close the channel, the level of siltation will not be as rapid as it is right now. Dredging will mitigate it for a while, but over a period of about five years, it will be silted again so after the dredging, the channel to the Atlantic Ocean has to be closed permanently so that silt deposit will not have access into our community again.”