By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
The indigenes and residents of Umueze Uga Community, Aguata L.G.A, Anambra State, have again sent a passionate appeal to the Anambra State and Nigerian Governments to urgently come to their rescue and save them from being submerged by erosion that has almost eaten up the Umumonye Quarter of the Community.
Speaking to Fides at the erosion site on September 7, 2019, the Vice Chairman, Umueze Village, Uga, Hon Engr Jude Uzor, said that erosion had rendered many families homeless, while many individuals and families had also lost their property worth millions of Naira to the menace.
He recalled that about 20 years ago, the community had noticed small erosion signs around the said site and cried to the then Anambra State Government for help. According to Engr Uzor, the government came with Counterpart Fund Project and work commenced on the erosion site. But about two months into the project, the work stopped abruptly. When the community enquired for the reason, they were told that the contractor died.
The Vice Chairman said the community cried again to both the Federal and the State Governments, but did not get any other help as at that time. He said the community had been trying on its own to check the erosion, but that about three years ago, the erosion escalated in various parts such that many homes were affected.
He regretted that many indigenes of the community had been turned to refugees in their own land due to the loss of their house to the erosion menace.
Hon Uzor registered his fear that if the menace failed to get an urgent government attention, the only Catholic parish in the village, St Michael’s Parish, Uga; and the only market in the village, Nwagwazi Market, Umueze, Uga; which happened to also be under the erosion threat, would be submerged too, forcing the community into extinction.
Uzor said the former Anambra State Commissioner for Environment had brought Newmap to the site about over three years ago, but nothing had been done, except that the Newmap then rated the erosion site under Category Four.
He noted that the community had tried, to through funds raised from levies and donations made by some individuals, to construct stilling basins and diverted the flood to catchment pits. Uzor stated that unfortunately, the erosion wrecked surprise havoc last week, and washed away all the efforts made by the community to checkmate the menace.
Adding his voice to the appeal, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, called on the Governments of Anambra State and Nigeria, to urgently come to aid of the community and address the menace currently threatening life and property.
Bishop Ezeokafor, who visited the erosion site after leading in a concelebrated thanksgiving Mass for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Sir Julius & Lady Pauline Ezeonwumelu at St Michael’s Catholic Church, Uga, Sept 7, lamented that the erosion site was in the abode of the people of the community; unlike the erosion menace of his home town, Nanka, Orumba North LGA which was situated outside the people’s residential areas.
The Catholic prelate decried what he described as great neglect which the masses suffered in the hands of the government and called on the Government of Anambra State to urgently put palliative measures in place to checkmate the erosion menace and bring in the Federal Government to completely tackle the problem.