In Akwa Ibom, erosion and flooding are two major concerns where both state government and the residents seek urgent Federal Government intervention. Correspondent DENNIS UDOMA, in this special report examines the impact of these menaces on the people and environment.
Generally speaking, erosion and flooding have become the two monstrous challenges facing Akwa Ibom in recent times and, the phenomena may continue to pose serious concern to the environment and people if government fails to address it on time.
A trip to places at Nwaniba, Ikpa/Urua Ekpa and Afaha Oku suburbs in Uyo metropolis is a show of what environmental experts describe as active erosion.
Though, the state is reputed for its uncommon infrastructure, the current erosion and flooding posture make jest of such pride.
It was because of this that, the immediate past administration had invigorated strategies through which a multi billion Naira pipe jacking technology was constructed to control the continuous flooding, to relieve the state capital and environs. But how much of this effort and resources were able to bring succour to the residents?
A survey by our Correspondent on the debilitating impact of the two ecological problems has revealed great negative effect of erosion and flooding on the well-being of the citizenry.
Effect of flooding on both public and residential buildings is the concern that, if appropriate measures are not put in place, buildings are likely to face the threat of weak foundations thereby resulting in buildings collapse.
Mr. A. Adedeji, civil engineering expert had expressed fears that, “Exposure of buildings foundation and soaking up of base blocks to perennial flood may weaken the foundation thereby resulting in buildings collapse and mud sliding particularly, foundations not well rammed or compacted”.
Houses located on steep slopes as the case may be, are likely to face this threats as a result of large volume of water that could cause rapid erosion.
Lagos State incident of mud sliding, where a two-storey building located on Orisha Street, Isheri Magodo, at the Imodium area of Berger killing four siblings, is a an example.
The cause of the building collapse was due to a heavy rainfall, which caused a mudslide from the cleavage of the hill beside the River Ogun.
Secondly, soil erosion if not prevented can remove valuable top soil which is the most productive part of the soil profile for agricultural purposes. The loss of it, can be imagine would result in lower agricultural yields and higher production costs.
It reduces soil ability to store water and nutrients, loss of newly planted crops. On roads infrastructure; Erosion causes damage to roads as can be seen on many of our roads including the IBB Avenue and so on.
Flood sometimes causes death. Early this year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), released its annual rainfall pattern predicting slightly above average rainfall for some parts of Nigeria.
Also, the Cameroonian government had notified the Nigerian government of plans to release water from Lagdo Dam that was responsible for some deaths the country recorded in 2012.
Unfortunately, that release we can say based on available records led to flooding that killed about 363 and displaced over 2.1 million people in 30 states of the federation.
Statistics issued by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), alerted states and communities along the River Benue trough of possible flood following the impending release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
In Uyo, areas these menace have posed dangerous catastrophes include Wellington Bassey Way, which is leading to the Government House, Uyo, Abak road, Ukana-Offot, Atiku Abubakar Way, IBB Avenue, Nkemba Street, Afaha Ube, Church road, Urua Ekpa, Udo Ette and Afaha Oku.
Others are; Nwaniba, Ekpri-Nsukara, Udo Ekpo-Mkpo, Gen. Edet Akpan Extension, Nsikak Eduok, Akwa Efak and Ukana Offot Communities just to mention few.
Though erosion and flooding can be natural occurrences but, it also occur due to lack of legislation to checkmate the unwholesome activities by miners, land developers as well as farmers and others.
Investigations have shown other factors of environmental depletion. It is as a result of lack of proper urban planning and coordination of the activities of land users, by the relevant agencies of government like the Ministries of Lands, Housing/Urban Renewal as well as the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA).
Hitherto, when these institutions were concern about urban planning, Nigerians were relieved of challenges but today, due to rush for personal housing; indiscriminate developments by land owners sprang up posing serious challenges to government.
That is why the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) under Engr . Kelvin Edet as it Chairman, embarked on demolition of illegal structures across the metropolis to give the area a befitting look.
Although it was for the mean time, the problem has bounced back as people now erect structures illegally on the drains/water channels. For instance, a visit to the Federal Housing Estate along Abak road in Uyo metropolis and other surroundings can be revealing. Mrs. Maria Ukpong, who lives around Ukana-Offot recounted her ordeal how she lost everything to the ravaging flood.
Part of Akwa Ibom State ( Idongesit Nkanga) Secretariat and the Ministry of Women Affairs along IBB Way in Uyo are not left out.
The state government is having sleepless nights on overcoming flood devastation to the extent that, House of Assembly Committee on Environment estimated the number of houses destroyed around Nwaniba alone in the past five years at about 200, while life were also lost to active erosion.
Calabar-Itu High Way linking the state with Cross River, Dominic Utuk’s Avenue, St. Luke Hospital, Anua, Etim Okon Usanga and part of the University of Uyo are the worse hit by active erosion menace presently.
This situation prompted Governor Udom Emmanuel to seek Federal Government intervention to stop parts of the state from major sliding.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. David Lawrence Udofa during inspection at Etim Okon Usanga said, “The extent of devastation that occurs here is very shocking and from my observation, the nature of work that was done on the water channel by Marlum Nigeria Limited was sub-standard and that has helped to create more problems to the residents and the ecology.
“I think the volume of water that is brought to this area was not properly controlled and as a result, it has to cause a lot of land sliding where many houses have been affected and if action is not taken immediately, more houses will be destroyed.
Senate Sub-Committee on works headed by Sen. Barnabas Gemade during his visit to the sites recently had assured the governor of federal government’s support to address the situation.
According to Gemade, “We must attempt to solve some of these problems on a more permanent basis than in the past, where light palliative measures were carried out and after every season, you come back to face a bigger problem”.
Similarly, President of Environment and Leadership Initiative, a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), Mr. Pius Umoren also estimated about 500 lives to be loss in five years except, something is immediately done by the state government to avert the crises.
Therefore, for the ecological problems to be solved, both Federal and State governments must work together to implement effective use of the ecological funds at their disposal to tackle erosion and flooding once and for all.