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A Swamp Boogie demolishing the fence of a one storey building blocking the waterways

Flooding: Rivers govt commences demolition of structures on waterways

A Swamp Boogie demolishing the fence of a one storey building blocking the waterways
A Swamp Boogie demolishing the fence of a one storey building blocking the waterways

The Rivers State Government has commenced the demolition of structures which are impeding the free flow of water along the creeks, canals and other waterways in the State.

This move, according to the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA) became necessary to avert severe flooding which is already ravaging parts of the State occasioned by heavy rains across the country.

RIWAMA’s Director of Administration, Mr. Ian Gobo who led the operation, stated that the Sole Administrator of the Agency, Bro. Felix Obuah had in the past weeks warned residents and land developers in the State, especially in Port Harcourt and Obio Akpor LGAs not to erect structures on the waterways, adding that the National Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had listed Rivers State among what they called the ‘flash floods location’.

The demolition exercise which began, Wednesday, saw the pulling down of two structures which were erected right on the waterway of the Mini Ekere creek in Rumuobiakani, Obio Akpor Local Government Area.

RIWAMA Director of Administration, Mr. Ian Gobo, explains the demolition exercise
RIWAMA Director of Administration, Mr. Ian Gobo, explains the demolition exercise

Using a massive swamp boogie for the operation, the RIWAMA officials levelled the structures which were built behind No. 10B Enugu Street, Rumuobiakani.

On Thursday, the team moved to No. 3 Valley Close, Rumuogba, where a one-storey apartment had encroached into the same creek and completely blocked the water channel, a situation that forced the water to veer off its course thus threatening to submerge several buildings along the creek.

Residents of surrounding shanties, including those on the imposing one-storey building watched as the swamp boogie pulled down the  fence of the apartment, even as people were seen working anxiously to re-erect another illegal fence on the waterway.

However, to ensure that the law takes its course, Mr. Gobo and some senior health officials of RIWAMA issued an abatement notice of 90 days which they served the owner of No. 3 Valley Close, Rumuogba to enable him move out and also pull down the structure.

The house owner was also issued a stop work order in view of desperate attempts to erect another fence on the waterway.

Some residents from the surrounding shanties in the Creek alleged that there had been attempts by the past administrations in the State to demolish the house but that government officials had compromised and never returned to carry out the demolition.

The impact of the blocked waterways on occupants of surrounding shanties
The impact of the blocked waterways on occupants of surrounding shanties

“This house has existed for over 15 years and past governments had either ignored it or failed to take appropriate action.  We are also aware that even his fellow landlords have advised him to cut off the house from the creek so that water could flow on its natural route”, said a resident.

Mr. Ian Gobo later told journalists that the residents around the Rumuogba Estate complained about the heavy flooding following the recent rainfalls, a situation that prompted the inspection and stunning discovery that structures had been erected which obstructed the free flow of water at the Creek.

“This house, 3 Valley Close, Rumuogba Estate is built right at the middle of the river and as a result is diverting the free flow of water from its natural course.  It is also creating erosion on the other banks and the people living there are suffering the consequence of the action of the landlord”, Gobo said, adding that these were issues being confronted by RIWAMA on daily basis along the creeks, canals and other waterways.

He advised developers to build within their own confines and not use the waterways as part of their buildings, adding that those who contravened the rules would have themselves to blame.

Mr. Gobo disclosed that the team would by next week, move to the creeks at Rumukalagbor and warned those whose structures have blocked the water ways to remove them before the visit.

“We have reports that so many bridges have been created to access their houses.  These bridges have piers and these piers stop the free flow of water” he said, adding that cases of indiscriminate dumping of refuse into the waters also abound.

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