By Samuel Oyadongha, Obogoro

Some of the worried youths were sighted last week in a canoe flowing with the current close to the river bank on reconnaissance pointing at the fragile shoreline ostensibly looking out for cracks, indicating probable landslide.

A couple of weeks ago, some terrified residents abandoned their houses located few metres distance away from the troubled waterfront for fear of being caught in the fury of the landslide ravaging this predominantly agrarian and fishing settlement with a mix of traders and civil servants.

NDV checks revealed that several years ago, this sprawling Epie-Atissa settlement on the bank of the Ekoli River was a perfect example of prosperity boosted by the invigorating ecosystem of the delta and the hard work of the locals. Obogoro presented an idyllic scene with evergreen luxuriant vegetations and plentiful flourishing farmland being cultivated by most families.

The situation worsened by floods/tidal wave

But with years of unprecedented floods caused by global warming, the picture has changed dramatically for the worse. Obogoro community which in the past caught the attention of land developers because of its serenity and proximity to Yenagoa, the state capital is now grappling with devastating landslides.

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Some of the locals have blamed the disturbing phenomenon on the increasing sand deposits directly opposite their community caused by the river action. This, according to them, is now causing the wave to lash heavily on the already fragile shoreline resulting to collapse of the earth.

Fear of disaster

Already, a large portion of this riverside settlement known for its tranquillity including a primary school and corpers’ lodge have been lost to the river fuelling fears that if urgent remedial steps are not taken the entire community might become extinct.

However, the member representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Oboku Oforji came to the rescue by building another block of classrooms for the displaced pupils to enable them to continue their education in a conducive environment free from the rampaging landslide.

Like many residents, Daumiere told NDV that though the landslide menace is something they have had to contend with over the years, it’s been a troubling experience for them lately due to its regularity.

“The frequency of the landslide occurrence is now a source of grave concern to everybody. It is a dangerous situation, as we speak Obogoro is an endangered community. The landslide can easily bury people,” she lamented adding, “the entire village could be lost if nothing tangible is done to tackle the menace.”

With the constant fear of a likely landslide without notice, the natives are distressed,  promoting some concerned youths in the area under the aegis of “the Save Obogoro Community from Erosion” have been at the forefront of drawing state and national attention to the frightening situation in the area and dilemma facing their people.

Falling structures

“I am very much afraid for my beloved community; we are witnessing the worst environmental challenge in recent times. I fear for those whose homes are today being threatened by erosion induced landslide ravaging our community, buildings and other valuable structures are being lost due to the collapsing fragile earth,” lamented a youth who spoke under anonymity.

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The paramount ruler of Atissa clan, HRM, King Godwin Igodo, a former Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council had while lamenting the plight of his people said: “We are at the bank of the Ekoli River and the place is always affected by the seasonal flood. Every year this ugly incident continues. We have lost the corpers lodge to erosion. The lodge was very far from the bank of the river.

Appeal for govt intervention

“Some of these environmental problems are natural while some are man-made. Our own is natural; is not man-made. It has been there and we have written to many people, even to the Federal Government to come to our aid; as far as the flood-related erosion is concerned. But nothing has been done.”

He warned that the Goodluck Jonathan Bridge, connecting communities across the Ekoli River to mainland Yenagoa might also be affected “if nothing is done to check the menace.”

Also speaking, a prominent member of the community, Chief Unenadu Igwele, had suggested that pilling the community shoreline would save Obogoro community from being washed away and pleaded with the relevant authorities to come to the aid of the community.

“We are appealing to the government; we cannot do it alone; this project is too big for a community like this to handle,” he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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