By Samuel Oyadongha
VILLAGERS have cried out as rampaging seaside erosion threatens to cut off the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road, which links over 50 communities in West Senatorial district of Bayelsa State.
The progressive wearing away caused by perennial flooding has seriously endangered the road project, which had been on the Federal Government drawing board for over five decades, but currently under construction by the Bayelsa State government.
This year’s high flood did not help matters as the surging waters swept through obstacles on its path, including the road.
Bridge needed to solve problem—Residents
NDV learned that past attempts by the government to tackle the erosion menace by rehabilitating the troubled spot ended in fiasco when the mass of rock used in protecting the shoulder collapsed due to intense water current and further washed away road.
This was again the scenario, penultimate week, when the charging flood nearly tore through the road.
We reliably gathered that the control measure failed because the relevant authorities did not carry out proper environmental impact assessment before doing the job. The troubled area, according to natives, required a bridge to avert future occurrences.
Though a construction company has commenced temporary maintenance of the yet-to-be completed road project, expected to open up communities in the hinterland of the western axis of the state, indigenes of the area have called on governments and the relevant authorities to find a lasting solution to the erosion menace.
This, according to them, would save the area from being isolated from the rest the state and country.
Agbedi, lawmaker pleads with FG
The lawmaker representing Sagbama-Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Fred Agbedi, who visited the distressed area last week, called on the Federal Government to construct bridges to deal with the perennial problem threatening the road, which is the gateway to several communities in the western flank of the state.
He said: “We contribute to the revenue of this nation and for one federal road that crisscrosses the two local governments of my federal constituency to be cut off is not good. So we are appealing to Mr. President and the Minister of Works and the Federal Government to quickly intervene.
“There is need to construct bridges across the troubled spots and the Federal Government need to come and proffer permanent solution.”
A resident, Sunday Ebiowei, said: “If a permanent solution is not found for this perennial problem, we will one day wake to find out that we are cut off from the rest of the country. What is been done now by way of maintenance is a stopgap measure.
“There is need for proper environmental impact assessment study of the road with a view to finding lasting solution to the erosion menace.”
Govt should halt fire brigade approach —Morris, ERA
Also speaking on the erosion menace, renowned environmentalist, Alagoa Morris said: “Although every problem is unique and should be tackled accordingly, the lack of maintenance culture in our public life is responsible and very unfortunate. This is not just a state government sickness; it is affecting the Federal Government too.
“Instead of addressing problems early enough, government always want to act only when the problem has reached a stage where billions of naira would be spent and when lives must have been lost and so much discomfort to the public.
“So, instead of fire brigade approach to issues; there should be an effective public complaint unit in the relevant departments of government and the direct labour unit should be resuscitated to identify and respond promptly to such maintenance issues. With such special bodies in place, citizens would easily report cases and attract response from the agency.
“As you know, the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, had recommended the establishment of a Special Intervention Agency or Commission for Flood and Erosion in the state. It is left for the present or incoming government to do the needful,” he added.