By Festus Ahon, ASABA
A civil engineer and erstwhile Special Assistant (Technical) Delta State Ministry of Water Resources Development, Sylvester Oru, has raised the alarm that that earthquake may occur in Umutu and Umuaja communities in Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State due to ongoing mechanical dredging activity in the area.
Oru, who stated this in an interview with newsmen in Asaba, after visiting the dredging sites, said the two communities were sitting on a time bomb, adding that the mechanical dredging of the source of any river was delicate and should not be contemplated by any group or individual because of the effect on the host community.
He said the ongoing mechanical dredging has the capacity of destroying the aesthetic value and the tourism potentials of the twin communities that has been driven by the state government.
According to him, “the river sources, the Akuku-Agbor Platoon, Idemili, Igbudu-Aka platoons among others formed the recharge basin that receives the rainwater into the ground that eventually finds its weakest point of discharge at Umuaja community, the source of River Ethiope.
“This issue is bothering on River Ethiope source, it is also an environmental issue but we are concerned more on how it affects the hydrogeology, which is really critical.
“The river began as an artisan and natural spring water coming from a source that flows down the slope like a river to connect with the Atlantic Ocean.
“The water is collected as underground reservoirs on the bedrock of thick layers of clay and stones that cannot allow the water penetrate below it, gave birth to River Ethiope, Ughelli River, Ossisa River and others.
“Now, when the dredgers move to this location which is the source of the river, and as they mine these sands and stones, the base is been washed off.
“If they begin to do dredging there, they will displace the sand formation from the subsurface at very great pressure, this will lead to the demolition of the artisan spring and those living in the areas around Umutu and Umuaja are sitting on a time bomb.
“This is because the soil that rests on the impervious formation have been sucked away by the dredgers, what we call subsidence will occur as the dredgers suck away the weak sand from beneath the community land formation.
“My advice is that the dredging work must be stopped immediately. Dredging the source of the river is not acceptable because of the danger it poses to the people and the ecology itself.”
Some of the residents who spoke to newsmen also lamented the devastating impact of the dredging on their daily activities while calling on the government to come to their aid and stop the dredgers.
Also, Mrs Angela Chukwudi, said; “as we speak, those who do not have boreholes still drink the water and use it in their homes.
“Besides, because the river turns blue during dredging hours, most people believed that it has contaminated the aquatic lives, therefore, they no longer eat fish killed from the river for fear of contamination and death.
“In fact, we need the government to come to this community to provide us with good drinking water, electricity and give us financial support for our business and to engage the youths in other meaningful projects to take them out of the dredging activities”.