No fewer than 30 buildings are said to have been destroyed and over 50,000 people displaced in the gully erosion ravaging communities in Onitsha Inland, Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
It was gathered that the erosion, which began in 2019, has so far damaged areas at Obeleagu and Nkisi-Aroli streets, thereby causing panic among the inhabitants of the community since 2020, when it became fully blown.
As a result, the residents of the affected areas have therefore called on the state governor, Chukwuma Soludo, to rescue them from the ecological disaster.
Already completely destroyed by the erosion were two churches, a school, shops, and residential buildings.
Our correspondent, who visited the site on Friday, gathered that a three-storey building constructed close to the gully at Nkisi-Aroli Street caved in three years ago, and since then the erosion has kept expanding.
Speaking to our correspondent, a septuagenarian and retired educationist, Onwa Chukwudobe, who is one of the most threatened victims, said he had suffered untold hardship in the past three years due to the erosion.
He said, “I thank God that I am still surviving, and I thank the state government for the much they have done, but as you can see the calamity is not over yet, as it is rapidly ravaging properties in the area.
“I thanked our monarch, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and the town union leadership for the patronage we received and the relief items they have so far provided for the victims.
“The state government has diverted the water channel from the main erosion gully site but it is yet to be sealed, that is our concern now.”
Another resident of the area, who gave his name as Amechi Egbunike urged the state government to rescue them from the gully erosion without further delay, adding that “We want a proactive measure, not political promises earlier made by past administrations in the state.”
The President-General of the Onitsha Improvement Union, Sir Chike Ekweogwu, told our correspondent that the erosion started in late 2019 and manifested in 2020.
“Since then, we have approached various arms of government, including the Anambra state government, to come to our aid.
“Our monarch has done a lot too by using his influence. At a time, the then Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, as well as officials of the Anambra state government under the former governor, Dr Willie Obiano, visited the site.
“Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project officials and even former Governor Obiano were here too to look at it. He had some compassion and put up a palliative measure to channel a new gutter into the Nkisi River.
“It locked the other end from Obeleagu Street to Aroli Street to minimise the continuous erosion in the area. He promised then that for effective use of the channel, the Nkisi River would be stilted.
“However, because the waters don’t flow normally anymore, and you know our people with their land speculation attitude, they have encroached on it.
“People are beginning to re-channel it, and you know that water will always find its course and that is where we are today; even the palliative that was done begins to crack because it was not properly cast.”
He appealed to the governor to help complete the palliative started by his predecessor and then stilt the Nkisi River so that it becomes a free-flowing stream.
The President General also appealed to both the federal and state governments to help finance the gully erosion close-up, adding that the community would not be able to finance such a huge project.
When contacted on the development, the state Commissioner for Works, Ifeanyi Okoma, did not take several calls and messages to his telephone.
However, an employee in the ministry who identified herself simply as Mrs Osigwe, said, “Anambra State already has a Flood and Erosion Mitigation Team set up by the governor, which is headed by his deputy.
“The team, which is inter-ministerial has the State Emergency Management Agency, ministries of environment, education, local government areas, power and water, health, agriculture, transport, works, and other concerned government agencies.
“The Team is already working on pre-flood strategies to address the challenges. Precisely, on April 28, the team, through SEMA, started a sensitizing tour to the affected LGAs.”