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By Aniekan Aniekan, Calabar | The Sun

For about two decades, the people of Ekeya community in Efut Musaha clan of Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State, have lived with the effect of a deep gully erosion, which is eating deep into the heart of the area.

The community is one of the locations, which has, over the years, been expanding and somewhat benefitted as a result of the larger development of Calabar, the capital of Cross River State.

Being a developing community, a number of members of the middle class of the society gradually moved in and some level of development particularly houses, shops, churches and schools sprang up.

In addition to this, due to its proximity to the University of Cross River State as well as the headquarters of the Calabar South local government area, it became ideal particularly for students, and its serenity added to the gradual acceptability of the location.

However, over the past two and a half decades, the community’s fortunes have nosedived as a result of a massive erosion that has been eating deep into the very heart of the community.

The reason for this has not been ascertained and the neglect by government and its agencies has exacerbated the issue. The menace gets worst by the day with no hope in sight.

As the situation degenerates by the day, people’s lives and properties have been swallowed by the erosion which is now at least 200 meters deep. Trees, have over time, grown inside the gully in some sections and a visitor can easily fall right inside and several properties within the community have been abandoned by their owners.

Tracing the genesis of the disaster, the village head of Ekeya, Ndabo Okposin David, attributed it to a failed road construction project in another community within the area. He said the water comes from far away Mbukpa area of the local government area and failure to properly channel the flood water to the river made the community to bear the brunt of the flood menace.

David told Daily Sun: “The water you see comes all the way from Mbukpa, then flows into Waddell, to Ekpenyong, Essien, Fixibon, Ekong to New Airport road and then spills into Ekeya.

“Former Governor Donald Duke during his administration brought a company called to do that road from Fixibon to Howell to New Airport and in the course of construction, there was a crisis between the company and the youths, which led to the project’s abandonment.

“The company did not complete the channelization of the water and when the next governor came in, he tried to do the gutter from Fixibon but the gutter had no outlet. The government tried to do a gutter along New Airport but this was not wide enough and so all the water overflows into Ekeya community.

“This water also passes through the University of Cross River State as well as Idim Ita village before emptying into the Iquo Nkod River. Before it ends there, it will first flow into several houses in Ekeya before terminating in the river.”

The village head said the effect of the erosion had been so devastating over the years, adding that it has gone from bad to worse with several houses affected.  He also disclosed that several letters, appeals and solicitations have been made by the community to various government agencies as well as successive administrations in the state but succour has not yet come to the area.

“W are so much affected by the erosion, which has  gone so bad that there is no more motorable road in the community and many houses have been affected.

“We want an emergency rescue by the government. For over 20 years now, at least 11 houses have been abandoned in the area and more will be abandoned if nothing is done soon.

“We have appealed severally to successive administrations in the state for succour but in vain. But we are  happy they the present governor of the state has personally visited the community to witness the effect of the ravine,” he said.

He said if the government can properly channel the water within the community, provide proper drainages in the community and adjourning ones, residents will be very happy but for now people are living in pain.

Ekpenyonganwan Eyo, nee Esuabana, the women leader of Ekeya village, said the ravine is affecting businesses within the area and making movement difficult. She added that it affects children going to school.

Giving more details on the impact of the ravine, she said: “We have a doctor here and he cannot go out for consultation at certain times. There was a time when a child was very sick and at a point of death but we could not move out because it was raining  and the child nearly died.  The saving grace was that there was a nurse who was visiting a friend within the area and she came to the child’s rescue.

“The gully has claimed a lot of lives over the years. Two months ago a child who was passing across the area thought it was not deep and immediately she put one leg, she was almost gone and barely survived because of help from a passerby. Even here in Ekong Street, water carried a child straight to Iquo Nkod River  and nobody could help, that’s why children are locked up anytime it rains.”

She added that the community desperately needs government’s intervention and the solution should start from where the water comes from so as to provide a permanent solution.

She also disclosed that several agencies had, over the years, come to inspect the ravine and gave the people hope, including the NDDC which came last year before the general elections with approvals, interfaced with the community but nothing came out from it.

With the coming of the present administration, the hope of the community is sky high that their challenges will come to an end.

During a working visit to the area, Gov. Otu bemoaned the danger posed to residents of the affected area and pledged short to medium intervention to safeguard lives and property.

“We cannot allow something like this in the middle of the town. Looking at this it must have taken a lot of lives and property. The World Bank has intervention programmes which I intend to follow up with, and this has informed my being here.

“We will take a look at the drawings, see what the existing plans are and work quickly to safeguard those who live around this area,” the governor said.

Also speaking recently on activities of his ministry, the state’s works commissioner, Pius Ankpo, said government will soon commence a complete channelization of Calabar to permanently address the flooding challenges and the environmental menace.

- The Sun 

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Hi, I,m Pospi Otuson. A Nigerian Blogger, Social Entrepreneur and Convener of the renowned Boki Business Conference. CEO/Founder of Possibility Desk, the largest online consulting platform for possibilities in the world.

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