Gully erosion displaces 120 in Uyo

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By Ogenyi Ogenyi,Uyo

Atleast 120 persons have been displaced with several houses damaged by gully erosion in Afaha Oku, a major Uyo community hosting the University of Uyo and Cornelia Conelly College (CCC) -a foremost girls school in Akwa Ibom State.

The victims who stormed the palace of the village head, Etteidung Emmanuel Eka, yesterday to raise concerns over the renewed threats aggravated by last weekend’s downpour, called for government intervention to address the issue

One of the affected landlords, Mr Titus Jerome Udoh, a retiree who had vacated his home, said his house, located at No8 Akpan Eton Street, off Ekpene Ntan Street, became threatened by erosion when a construction company diverted flood water from Urua Ekpa and its environs into Akpan Eton.

He said, “I was residing at No. 8 Akpan Eton Street, Off Ikpa Road, here in Uyo, in my personal building, until June, 2019, when I was forced out of my house as a result of approaching threat of erosion, which has turned Akpan Eton Street into a ravine and the entrance of my house was badly affected. Hence, I relocated and stayed with my dependent family members in a rented apartment.

“You can imagine what life has become for me and my dependent relatives in a rented apartment for almost five years now. So please I am appealing to His Excellency, Governor Umo Eno to please, do anything within his power to restore us to our home.”

Another landlord, Francis Akpan, who resides at Obong Efak, Nabor Street, said the residents were entirely cut off and the situation had to be remedied by members of the community, until the situation degenerated last weekend.

“We planted bamboo trees as part of our remedial approaches but now the bamboos are attracting snakes and other dangerous animals into our homes, we wake up to see dangerous snakes inside our homes, we need help to survive this rainy season,” he added.

Mr Andrew Udoukpo, another affected landlord in Atiamkpat Street, said the gully erosion along Akpan Eton has continued to pose serious threats to buildings in Atiamkpat as the volume of water emptied into the street does not permit even pedestrians to use the road during rainy season.

He recalled several visits by government officials and previous pledges by such teams to arrest the gully at Akpan Eton and Atiamkpat to bring relief to the people. He therefore appealed to Governor Umo Eno to assist the people return to their homes.

Speaking on behalf of the affected communities, Village Head of Afaha Oku, Eteidung Emmanuel Eka, thanked the State Government for ongoing efforts to tackle gully erosion issues but regretted that the area has suffered greatly from erosion despite playing host to UNIUYO and CCC.

Eka regretted that what started as minor issues in thickly populated areas such as Akpan Eton, Atiamkpat, Nabor, Effiong Udofia and other streets had over the years been neglected, turning into serious gully erosion sites, sacking residents, including retirees who laboured to build houses for themselves.

According to him, “Akpan Eton Street was more or less like any other street in Uyo, motorable, things were moving well. I think it was on the course of construction work done in one of those streets at Itam when water was directed towards Akpan Eton Street and that problem started..

“The whole water from Urua Ekpa and sojourning streets were channeled into Akpan Eton street with no gutters to direct the water. So gradually erosion started coming in because government gave deaf ears on the cryings of the people. Akpan Eton Street today has turned to Eka Street, no movement, houses submerged.

“So we appeal to government for quick intervention because as at now if government does not come in very fast, more than 20 houses can go before the rain stops. Akpan Eton Street, Effiong Udofia Street, Atiamkpat Street, Nabor, no car can move in again. People can no longer trek on those streets because erosion has damaged the streets.

“As the village head of Afaha Oku, I would approximate about 150 houses badly threatened. If there was time, I feel, the government should send in representatives from the Ministry of Environment and other department to come and witness and confirm what we are saying.”

Talking generally about erosion threats in Afaha Oku Village, Eteidung Eka said; “You look at CCC, several times erosion has taken the fence down. Recently, about one or two months ago, the state government had to go back and reconstruct another fence. And each time they reconstruct the fence, they have to shift the original boundary of the School.

“University of Uyo is very seriously threatened and I am sure that it is one of the things that prompted the university management to relocate to the permanent site because the town Campus is partly threatened.

The village head who called on Governor Umo Eno to take necessary steps to save the affected houses from collapse also called on the federal government to make provision from the ecological funds to tackle erosion issues in the University of Uyo.”We have what we call ecological funds, that can assist to remedy the situation around the University”. He advised.

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