Six Cross River State communities have decried the alleged stoppage of proposed gully erosion works by the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).
The proposed project which was to be funded by the World Bank was originally billed to be carried out in Ikot Eneobong, Akai Efa, Enima Omin, Goodluck Jonathan Bypass, Ekeya Gully and Agiga communities.
Speaking to journalists during a tour of one of the erosion sites in Akai Efa community, the Village Head, Mrs Henrietta Akpera, said in 2017, a team of engineers visited the various communities to gather information on the extent of damage done by the erosion.
She said that series of meetings were held with Cross River NEWMAP until January when they were informed that the World Bank had approved the designs for civil works to commence.
“While waiting for the work to commence, we now have it on good authority that the World Bank for reasons that we are yet to come to terms with directed the Cross River NEWMAP to stop the planned commencement of civil works in our communities.
“As we speak, over 200 houses have been destroyed in the affected six communities, while in some cases, the entire community is threatened by the erosion,” she said.
Similarly, a resident of the Akai Efa community, Mr Eno Ekapon, who has lost part of his building to the erosion that is almost 40 feet deep, said when he built his house in 2015, the place was okay.
“I have spent over N13million just to protect my house; this is annoying because after building a house, you are spending close to what you used in building it to fortify it and this has been going on for two years now.
“We have written to all the relevant agencies including the state government but as you can see, nothing concrete has been done and the destruction is continuing,” he said.
Responding, Mr Francis Agaba, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Cross River on NEWMAP, thanked the community for their calm and peaceful disposition over the matter.
Agaba said although the NEWMAP projects in the states were winding down, they were doing their best to persuade World Bank to do something about the projects.
He, however, disclosed that due to the coming of the rainy season, most of the jobs could not be undertaken until the dry season.
“We are not aware of the issue of the World Bank pulling out from the projects and moving to another state.
“We assure the people that the World Bank was doing its best to ensure that the affected communities are given proper attention as the government of Cross River has paid its counterpart fund to the World Bank,” Agaba stated.
By George Odok