No fewer than 50,000 persons have been reportedly displaced while over 30 buildings destroyed in gully erosion ravaging communities in Onitsha Inland, Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Two churches, a school, shops and residential buildings with property worth billions of naira were among the facilities already destroyed by the erosion in the area.
The ecological disaster which dates back to 2019, had so far caused serious damage on Obeleagu and Nkisi-Aroli streets, sending jitters to inhabitants of the area.
A three-storey building close to the gully at Nkisi-Aroli Street reportedly caved in three years ago while more buildings have been submerged with several occupants displaced and their belongings destroyed.
Residents of the affected areas called for quick intervention of the state government to rescue them from the deluge.
A septuagenarian and retired educationist, Onwa Chukwudobe lamented untold hardship he had suffered 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.
“I thank our monarch, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, and the town union’s leadership for 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 has yet to be sealed. That is our concern now.”
Another resident, Uche Okereke said they were tired of political promises by past administrations, insisting that proactive measure remained the way out.
The President-General, Onitsha Improvement Union, Chike Ekweogwu called for completion and desilting of the Nkisi River to ensure free flow of the stream.
He said, “Since the erosion started late 2019 and became severe in 2020, we have approached the various arms of the government.
“Our monarch has done a lot too by using his influence at a time when the then Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, as well as officials of Anambra State government under former governor Willie Obiano, visited the site.
“Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project officials and even former governor Obiano were here to look at it. The governor had some compassion and he started a palliative measure.”
Commissioner for Works, Ifeanyi Okoma, when contacted, did not take several calls and messages sent to his phone, but a staff in the ministry said the governor already set up a Flood and Erosion Mitigation Team, headed by his deputy.
“The inter-ministerial team has the State Emergency Management Agency, ministries of environment, education, local government areas, power & water, health, agriculture, transport, works and other concerned government agencies,” he said.