By Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya
Overflow of water from Ebiyia/Ebonyi River due to executive rainfall experienced recently in Abakaliki has displaced more than five hundred persons and thereby destroyed properties worth hundreds of thousand at Unagboke Village, Inyimagu Azugwu Community in Ebonyi State.
Narrating the incident to Citizens’ Advocate, a resident of the area and victim, Mr. James Ejiofor Nwankwegu claimed that the destructive flood was remotely caused by the channelization work which was abruptly abandoned half way by the staff of Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).
He said that initially, the construction was progressing rapidly after they had obstructed the only waterway by creating a place like dam but to their chagrin, the people suddenly transferred their equipments to a new site close to Rice Mill axis without completing the work or making provision for free flow of water.
Mr. James said, “Immediately I discovered the development, I contacted one of the workers through phone call and upon my enquiry, I learnt that the workers acted based on the State government directive.”
“On the fateful day, when the excess water could not flow freely after a heavy rainfall because of the blockage, the water crossed its bank, submerged the entire village and destroyed lots of properties.”
“Before now, we have not encountered this level of flood until after NEWMAP workers had left our area leaving the river obstructed, if we could be displaced by flood in the month of June, what will be our fate at the climax of the rainfall?” he queried.
The Village Head, Elder Emmanuel Igwe told Citizens’ Advocate that before the incident, the only problem confronting the area was bad nature of roads until recently that the issue became double through incessant flooding usually noticed during every slightest rainfall.
He attributed the encounter to the blockage of the river waterway by the staff of NEWMAP and thereby requested that the people should be mandated for the completion of the dredging or as matter of urgency unblock the waterway to forestall future occurrences.
According to Elder Igwe, the residents’ crops which include yam, rice, water yam, cocoyam, maize and others were utterly destroyed by the flood.
Another victim who is also a widow, Mrs. Eucharia Ego Chikezie said that the problem had subjected her to untold hardship as she had lost over one hundred grown fowls in her poultry farm during the flooding.
“When this flood came for the first time, it swept away my chickens numbering one hundred and two and as I was trying to recuperate from the shock, another one struck and damaged all the valuables in my house including documents” she said.
She further disclosed that if not for people’s intervention that her car would have been swept away by the same flood but even before it could be saved, the interior aspect had already been damaged.
Mr. Vincent Okonkwo Odo corroborated the information and as a result called on State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) for assistance over their enormous destroyed crops and NEWMAP for completion of the project to avoid continuous occurrence.
We gathered that some of the victims are formerly, the indigenes of Agbaja Unuhu Village (the present day Centenary City) who relocated to the flooding area after they had been displaced by Ebonyi State government during the construction of the mega secretariat.
Also observed was the large number of the victims who were taking refuge within the neighbourhood pending when the water in their flooded houses would subside.