Residents of the Ogbeozoma New Layout in Okpanam Community, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State have cried out over the massive gully erosion currently ravaging the area.
A cross-section of the people said in separate interviews on Friday, September 15, 2023, that the disaster posed serious threat to their lives and property.
They also expressed concern that the development was crippling the socio-economic life of the estate and other parts of Okpanam, a major component of the Asaba Capital Territory.
The people also said that they were living at the mercy of the disaster, which “deteriorates by the day with each rain”.
They feared that greater danger loomed in the area, if nothing urgent was done by the State Government to check the phenomenon.
A resident, Mr Kingsley Izuka, said that the gully was about seven to 10-feet deep.
According to him, people painfully navigate through it to their homes by climbing in and out through the shallow part, on a daily basis.
“As you can see, men, men, young and old, you must cross the gully by walking in and out before you can enter into your house.
“Well, at a point, some good Samaritans purchased planks, which provided a platform for people to walk through.
“But, as we speak, we have recorded some incidents, where people had slipped and fell into the gully, while walking on the narrow plank,” Izuka said.
He further said that the situation was worse with children, who use the planks often on their way to and fro their schools.
“Some have fallen in and sustained injuries, while struggling through the plank.
“The situation is dangerous. We are suffering,” Izuka said.
He said that the disaster started “gradually but got worse overtime”, adding that the landlords association made efforts to check it to no avail.
“Attempts were made to arrest the situation but it got out of hand in the last three years.
“And with the rate of the degradation, we are afraid that many houses may soon cave in.
“This is why we are appealing to the State Government to come to our rescue before it does greater harm to human lives and property,” he said.
Also, a petty trader in the area, Mrs Cecilia Odogwu, said that the situation had become a nightmare to every resident of the community.
“This community is within the Asaba Capital Territory, but successive governments have failed to address the problem holistically.
“As it is now, we find it very difficult to access our homes even by bike, let alone driving our vehicles in and out of the estate.
“Residents walk long distances on foot before getting bikes or where they parked their vehicles.
“The situation is worse, if you have an emergency at night, God forbid, nobody can help you because people park their cara far away from their houses,” Odogwu said.
The Chairman of the Landlords Association, Mr Leo Emina, lamented the deplorable situation and appealed to the State Government to come to their rescue.
Emina said that the group’s efforts to tackle the menace failed because of the magnitude of the disaster.
He said that business activities and social life in the area were seriously threatened by the menace.
According to him, a timely intervention by the government can save the area from being totally washed away by flood and the expansive gully.
Residents of the estate comprised largely civil servants and private individuals, who developed the place with bank facilities obtained mainly through cooperatives.
In a related development, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Uno Uno, has advised residents of the state to stay away from erosion-threatened locations for safety.