TRADITIONAL Ruler of Onitsha, Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, has appealed to federal and state governments for assistance in tackling the gully erosion submerging buildings in an Onitsha.
The gully erosion in Nkisi Aroli-Obeleagu axis has swallowed not less than 20 buildings since it started last year and many more have been under threat within the area.
Igwe Achebe made the appeal during an on-the-spot assessment of the level of collapse of more houses in the area.
According to him, virtually every erosion situation in Anambra State appears to be man-made as we are the ones creating the erosion through our unwholesome activities.
“When on highways from Onitsha to Awka, you see all sorts of construction workers excavating the soil on virtually all vacant lands without considering the implications of what they are doing.
“This is just because all what they want is to make money for themselves,” he said.
He explained that there was then the need to call in “Building Plan Committee”, before erecting houses. “I believe that some of the buildings in the area are not approved by the committee”.
Igwe Achebe applauded the state government for responding promptly to the call to stop the erosion, but still need more assistance from the federal government.
He urged government and its law enforcement agencies to enforce laws on those going contrary to the rules of building plans. “When one person is identified and charged for violation, others will take corrections.
“We have called for those whose houses have been affected — not less than 14 families and extended some palliatives to them, in form of cash and food items. I know it will not be enough but it is still better than nothing,” he noted.
“Government has announced plans to give palliatives to those affected by the erosion; I hope it will come to pass,” Achebe said.
Osuma of Onitsha, Chief Sam Chukwudebelu praised Obi of Onitsha for coming to sympathise with his subjects.
“People living in affected areas should relocate. I know it will be very hard for them during this COVID-19 pandemic period, but when there is life, there is hope”.
General Manager, IDC Construction Company, Mr Freddy Kleyn, said poor maintainance culture by landlords as well as use of substandard materials in buildings was responsible for some of the collapsed buildings.
“It will take us like two to three weeks to finish the control of the erosion so as to properly re-channel floodwaters into the stream.
“The only inhibiting factor will be the rains,” he explained.
President of Onitsha Improvement Union (OIU), Sir Chike Ekweogwu, said many houses, including residential homes, schools and churches caved in as a result of the menace.
`It is more worrisome that the erosion is heading toward many buildings within the area and if not controlled after the current rainy season, more houses within the Obeleagu and Nkisi Aroli axis may be wiped out.”
According to one of the landlords in the area, Akunnia Chuka Odiakosa, Ministry of Works and that of Environment should arrest the erosion to avoid causalities.
He said the erosion had cut off two roads linking Obeleagu Street and Nkisi Aroli.
Mrs Mary Okwuazi of No. 24B Obeleagu Street and Mr Albert Obumse, residents of the area, said they had lived in the area for more than 25 years and that such a thing had never happened.
Meanwhile, Mr Edozie Nwadiogbu of Anambra State Ministry of Works has pleaded with residents to cooperate with government and the contractor in order to make the work easier.