lOver 15 houses deserted, many locals homeless
By Steve Oko
Locals in Amamba Uzuakoli Autonomous Community, in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, have cried out for help over the menace of gully erosion that has posed an existential threat to the entire community.
Last Sunday’s torrential rain worsened the menace, as another two-storey building was swallowed up beside the ones claimed by the gully at the peak of the rainy season last year.
Speaking with Vanguard at the Uzoamaewu erosion site, the President General of the Community, Chilasa Kanu, said the menace, which started about four years ago, had defied every effort by the community to put it under control.
He said that, so far, five houses, including three bungalows and two 2-storey buildings, had been claimed by gully erosion in the community.
According to him occupants of about 15 other buildings have deserted the community for fear of the unknown.
The PG who said that the community had been overwhelmed by the erosion menace appealed for quick and permanent Government intervention.
He regretted that every effort by the community to get the attention of the previous administration fell on deaf ears.
“This erosion started about four years ago, and the community has done everything humanly possible to see if we can put a stop to the menace but without success.
“We have spent over N40 million with the collaborative efforts of our sons and daughters in the diaspora but up till now there is no hope yet.
“All the pleas we made to the previous administration under Gov Okezie Ikpeazu yielded no result.
“No intervention whatsoever has come to us either from the Federal or State Government. Last year the Governor sent his Deputy who came here and told us that erosion control is the job of the Federal Government, and he left.
“Our House of Representatives member, Ben Kalu who is now the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives also visited but did nothing.
“Senator Orji Uzor Kalu also came, saw it, and did nothing. Since then no intervention has come from anybody and the menace is getting worse.”
On the devastating effects of the erosion, the PG said that the agrarian community could no longer access their farms as the gully has also cut off their farm road.
Uzuakoli is a major cassava and corn-producing community in Abia State.
“We no longer go to the farm because our farm road has been cut off by this erosion. Besides, the erosion has rendered many families homeless.
“There is a two-storey building over there: It collapsed yesterday. The occupants have since packed out. Many locals have deserted the community and are now squatting with their relations in Umuahia and neighbouring towns.
“There are also many houses there that their owners have deserted. If nothing urgent is done in the coming days many more houses will collapse as the erosion is coming with speed. Maybe by the end of this rainy season, the entire community may look for a place to go”.
He passionately appealed to Gov. Alex Otti to quickly come to their aid to save them from further pain.
Our Correspondent who visited the erosion site reports that several buildings in the community are inaccessible as their only access road has split into two making it difficult for anybody to get closer.
The erosion site which created a gully that could measure up to 100 feet high is a terrifying sight.
Abia, according to statistics, has over 3000 active erosion sites with the majority of them domiciled in Abia North, particularly Isuikwuato, Umunneochi, and Bende council areas.