By Chimaobi Nwaiwu – Onitsha
Residents of erosion-devastated Obeleagu and Nkisi Aroli Street and environs, in Onitsha, Anambra State, have sent a save our soul messages the Federal and Anambra State Governments to save them from massive erosion devastating their area.
Already, at the last count, over 22 houses, including residential homes, schools and churches have caved into the huge gulley created by the rampaging erosion.
Some of the residents have already started parking out of the area as they fear that with raining season approaching the situation would get worse.
To draw the attention of Governments to their ugly plight, members of the Anglican and Catholic churches in the area, jointly with the Onitsha Improvement Union, the Justice Development and Peace Caritas, JDPC, and residents of Obeleagu and Nkisi Aroli Street, last Saturday held a protest and cried out for help. They called on the Federal and Anambra State governments to declare a state of emergency, on the Obeleagu gully erosion, threatening to sack residents of Obeleagu, Nkisi Aroli Streets and environs.
They lamented the huge loss residents of the area have so far suffered over the erosion menace and said that time was overdue for the areas a disaster area and a state of emergency declared over the rampaging erosion in the area.
The protesters further lamented that they have already lost 22 houses that have so far caved into the ever-expanding gully erosion and that over 1500 families have been displaced.
According to them, since September 11, 2019, when the gully erosion started till date, household properties worth billions of naira have been lost by displaced people, while ancestral graves and lands have been washed away by the gully erosion.
Led by Rev. Fr. Edwin Udoye, the Executive Director, JDPC, Onitsha Archdiocese, peaceful protesters, said they were out to register their displeasure and disappointment over nonchalant attitude of both the Federal and Anambra State Governments towards addressing the disaster since it started last year.
They expressed fears that the gully erosion will cause more havoc if nothing urgent and concrete is done immediately.
To drive home their message, the protesters displayed some placards with various inscriptions as: “We have lost 22 houses, including three and two storey buildings to Obeleagu/ Nkiai Aroli street gully erosion; 1500 families have been displace on Obeleagu gully erosion; Federal and Anmbra State governments should declare a state of emergency on Obeleagu Street gully erosion Onitsha, among others.”
They lamented that the various communal efforts they had been putting in place to checkmate the ravaging erosion could no longer work as it has passed the scope they could handle.
In their separate remarks, the President of Onitsha Improvement Union, Mr. Chike Ekweogu, the Parish Priest, St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, Inland Town Onitsha, Rev. Fr. Johnbosco Okafor; his counterparts from St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Rev. Canon Emmanuel Ibezim and Rev. Chinedu Emmanuel of St. Philip’s Anglican Church as well as Mr. Robert Ndubuisi of JDPC called on the Federal and State government to urgently address erosion menace before it causes more havoc.
“Thursday’s rain brought the number of destroyed houses to 22 from 15 it was with last Tuesday rain that displaced many families.
We have lost 22 houses including three and two storey buildings to the gully erosion menace and over 1500 families have been displace following the disaster.
“With 22 houses caved into the gully erosion, and about 1500 families displaced, it is regretted that since September 11, 2019 the gully erosion started, till date house hold properties worth billions of naira have also been lost by displaced people, while ancestral graves and lands have been washed away.
“We are lucky to have lost no life here yet; I remember the last time I came here I told the woman in charge of the Redeem School here to and I am happy she listened to me otherwise we would have lost many lives here because some children were living in the school.
“We are, therefore, calling on the Federal and Anambra State Governments to declare this place a disaster area and as well declare a state of emergency on this gully erosion because it has gone beyond community solution”, Ekweogu said.
Rev. Canon Ibezim on his part, lamented that the erosion gully is so enormous that houses are already caving inside and expressed fear that “a church under my jurisdiction may be losing property worth over N150 million if government fails to come in now”.
According to Rev. Fr. Okafor, “St Charles Secondary School with about 4000 population and my Parish are just stone throw to the gully and we are afraid that it is fast approaching with each rainfall; we are seriously under threat, government should step in now”.