Residents of erosion ravaged areas in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital and its environs have raised the alarm over the threat posed by gullies, which had already caved in not fewer than 50 houses in the areas affected and gulped over 10 buildings. The areas worst hit by the gullies in the State capital included: Asutan street, Eka street, Ikpa road, Udo Inwang street off Nwaniba in Ewet Community, Afaha Oku Community, Etim Umana and St Luke’s Hospital, Anua. Following the impending doom that may be caused by the gully encroachment, the state government directed residents of the affected areas to relocate from the areas to safer places.
However, residents of the erosion devastated areas in an interview expressed fear over the disaster, especially as the rains are becoming severe. They further expressed dismay over the state government’s order for them to vacate their ancestral homes without making alternative arrangement for such movement. A resident of Bassey Eta street, who identified himself as Austin Etop, said if government asked people to evacuate their residence, there should be a remedial arrangement to ameliorate their sufferings. Etop said the ravine in Asutan street had already caved into so many houses in the vicinity, expressing fears that if nothing is urgently done this rainy season, many people will be rendered homeless. He regretted that successive Commissioners of Environment had visited the gully site with promises of fixing the menace but were yet to fulfill their promises.
He, however, thanked the Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for constructing roads in Asutan and other adjoining streets noting that before the construction of the roads in 2018, he informed the contractors and other government agents of the existing ravine in the area which they agreed to take care of but were yet to do so, two years after. According to Etop:”The primary responsibility of government is Bayelsa Diagnostic Centre The area affected by erosion provision of welfare and protection of lives and properties. We are happy that the state government has constructed these roads you see here but before then, we duly notified the contractors and other government representatives of the existing ravine seriously encroaching on the houses in which they promised to work on.
“The roads were commissioned without addressing that problem of erosion gully down there, though with a promissory note that something will be done. The former Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Essien had visited the site with a promise to do something. Even the present Commissioner, Mr Sampson Ekong, had visited with same promise. “Since that time till now, nothing has been done. This ravine has become a serious threat to the residents of the area. It is collapsing day by day. I don’t want to be pessimistic; if the situation remains unattended, the July, August, September rains may leave many people here homeless.
“I want government to come to the aid of these people and if government asks people to evacuate, at least, it should make alternative arrangement for them.” Another resident, Queen Williams, narrated her ordeals and the perpetual fears her family members have been enmeshed in due to the gully which had already caved into her home especially anytime it rains. She said: “This is our ancestral home. We inherited it from our grandmother and the erosion has already caved in the building. Government has marked the building and asked us to vacate but with a promise to give us something to get a place.
Unfortunately, since that time, nothing has been done and we don’t have any place to go to and we can’t even sleep with our two eyes closed.” Another resident, Akpan, told our correspondent that the incision has been exacerbated by poorly terminated storm water drainage which channel rains from Wellington Bassey way, and other adjoining streets into the ravine. Also, the Secretary to Uyo village Council, Sylvester Akpan, in an interview, asked government to provide alternative arrangement.
“They cannot just drive them away like that. Government should be a little pathetic and look at their plight.” He said. In his reaction, the Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ekong Sampson, said it was better for the residents to relocate to a safer place while waiting for government’s assistance. “They must as a matter of urgency relocate to a safer place first. They must stay alive. The dead does not pay or receive rent. Government is putting measures in place for assistance, and for them to enjoy such assistance, they must naturally be alive and in a safe place too.” Ekong added.