The condition of people living in Osabunien, Usunobun and other streets in Ugbekun community, off Upper Sakponba Road, Ikpoba-Ohka Local Government Area, Edo State can be said to be pathetic.
Unlike other communities in areas prone to incessant flooding in the state, they have abandoned their homes, while children have turned the place to fish ponds and swimming pool.
When this reporter visited the area, some young boys were seen swimming and on sighting the reporter bringing out his phone to take a shot, they retreated. Others were seen far away with their fishing nets and hooks.
Residents bemoan their plight
Residents of the community are lamenting as flood turned their houses to fish ponds. According to 80-year-old, Pa Daniel Edoboh: “These places, where you see children fishing with hooks and nets are all people’s houses.
This community had been submerged by flood. More than 50 houses are gone and I know my own house and more will go anytime from now, if the government chooses to keep quiet.” he said.
The Octogenarian’s house is a few meters away from the submerged ones. “I built this house in 1980. We did not experience flooding here until 5 years ago, though we were hearing that people down the other side were experiencing flooding until 2017 or thereabout.
My friends have begged me to leave this place but I don’t have any other place to go to. I have personally written petitions to the Edo State Government on many occasions but nothing came out of it. “When it rains, flood gets to the window level of this house.
The last time, this car was covered by flood,” he said, pointing at a Mercedes Benz C Class parked at the middle of his compound. “What we do is that once it rains, we’ll vacate for some months to allow the place dry.
Then, we’ll come back to continue. In fact, all my documents and property are all gone. Everything is gone”, he concluded with a sense of hopelessness, throwing up his hands into the air.
Another resident, 75-year-old Pa Sunday Emeota, (who owns an uncompleted onestory building), said, people in that area have resigned to fate. He said that only landlords who have no place to go were remaining there as those who have options have left the area.
According to him: “Look at my house; my tenants all left quite long ago. There was even a church here before but the flood made them leave”. He invited the reporter to the uncompleted upstairs, where the site of children standing on top of a roof with their hooks as they fish in submerged houses were made visible.
“There was a fish pond in that place before but as the flood came some years ago, the owner of the pond ran away with his family and since then, the fishes had been multiplying and children from this area and even from far places come here to fish.
“The problems were made worse when the government started constructing gutters in this place. We asked them where they planned to channel the water to but they said it is to the flooded area. We found out that the contractors do not have the capacity to do the work because they were using wheelbarrows to mix cement and sand and that was how youths chased them away.”
He concluded Another octogenarian, Pa. Sunday Omoruyi Aghaghowa has been living in the area for the past 50 years. He said the situ- ation he found himself is pathetic, as those with options has left the area. “Most of our neighbours are gone.
For me, this is my house and I don’t have any other place to go to. On many occasions, my house has been submerged and I have to move to my children’s house, until the flood goes down. But I can’t be comfortable in my children’s houses.
We are still managing it until the government does something about it. Whenever rain falls, you can’t pass this place. There was a construction company they awarded the contract in 2018.
It is not even far from this place but the company channeled the water from St Saviours to this place and you can see that many landlords have abandoned their houses.
About 50 houses have been submerged. I am appealing to the government to prevail on the contractors. If the government does anything on this regard, most of the people who have run away will come back or sell their lands.”
Also, bemoaning his plight, Mr Fred Oworhue, 67, said: “The situation here is terrible. There was a time they awarded contract to one company to construct the road. We were happy. Before then, it was people at the other side that were suffering from the flood. It was after they did the uncompleted job in 2018 that my neighbours began to pack away from here.
For me, if the flood comes, I will leave and come back when the flood subsides. What some of us remaining here do is to raise the fence high but see the way it is. Since then, more than 50 houses have been submerged. It was after the contractors abandoned it that it began to submerge houses.” Bright Osamudiame, 25 years, was born in one of the submerged houses.
He lost one of his parents as a result of troubles from the flooding. “We have been crying to the government to help us but no help has come.
There is moat very close here where they can channel the water to but because of the Catholic School here, they blocked the moat and that is why the flood has persisted. Look at this place, nobody is here again.
They are all gone. I have to go to where my parents built another house. My mother died over the flooding.” Every attempt made to get the reaction of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure was rebuffed by his assistants as he was said not to be ready to receive anybody. According to one of his assistants: “You cannot meet the Permanent Secretary now. Go to the Director of Construction”.
A visit to the office of Director of Construction met another brickwall as the reporter was asked what his business with the flooded area was? “What is your business there? Do you live there? The Director of Construction is not around.”