Fear grips Enugu communities over collapse of disused mines
The Guardian gathered that the Federal Government, while hurriedly undertaking the closure of the mines in 2014, did so without recourse to international best practices where props are used to support disused mines from caving in.
The development, therefore, left the mines to the vagaries of nature. The affected places include Ebe, Nsude, Nachi and Umulumgbe, all in Udi Local Government Council. They are now faced with serious environmental degradation, as farmlands have been swallowed up by galloping erosion threatening the abode of residents.
It was gathered, recently, that a large swath of land measuring about nine kilometers in length caved–in at Nsude swallowing farmland and economic trees.
Investigation by The Guardian revealed that the Federal Government started excavating coal from the underbelly of Enugu in 1933. Three underground mines – Onyema, Okpara and Ribadu – existed in the state.
After the Civil War of 1967-70, some of the mines were already in a poor state. With the discovery of petroleum and gas in large quantities, coal mining was no longer given attention, leading to its stoppage during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chief Anthony Ude, Chairman, Umuaka Community, Nsude in Udi, told The Guardian at the weekend: “Each time we go to the farm, you will discover that a large chunk has been swallowed up. The last one happened last year. It did not kill anybody. It is usually a challenge for our people during the rainy season.”
Ude, who put the resultant loss experienced by the community at over a billion naira, said they were more worried “because the distance between where we live and the areas that have been taken over are not far.”
He urged the Federal Government to help the community “to save the remaining areas. We don’t have anywhere else to build or live in.”
A former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Agbaja Leaders of Thought (an umbrella organisation binding the people of Udi, Ezeagu and Enugu North Local Government Areas), during a visit to some of the abandoned farmlands at the weekend, noted that from the geological survey, the underground mines were more than 500 meters on normal routes and sometimes 1000 meters at intersections.
He warned that the affected communities could be buried alive suddenly, due to the poor closure of the mines. According to him, Agbaja people “are building on the surface of the earth and carrying on other developmental activities while their underbelly is open.”
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