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Cross River battles erosion, awards N1.5b contract


AFTER concluding all arrangements, the Cross River State Government has received the nod of both the Federal Government and the World Bank to award a N1.5 billion project, meant to wade off erosion challenge in some communities in the state capital, Calabar.

The communities including the New Navy International Hospital and Ikot Ansa within the metropolis are expected to have some relieve after the completion of the project, which is the repair of the Ikot Ansa Finger number one erosion site in Calabar, was awarded to Messrs A.G Bision Construction Company.
Currently, Calabar is said to have five erosion sites and that repairs have already commenced in four of them.   
The four sites where work is in progress include Edim Otop, Atakpa, Ikot Ekpo and Nyagasang. 

Commenting on the erosion issue and the new contract, the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Dave Orji, recalled that for the past 30 years the site has been a major treat to the Ikot Ansa community stating that the state government has done all in its power to control the damage which he described as a tip on the iceberg.
Orji assured the community that the project will be executed successfully without delay and “I know that many attempts have been made in the past to stop the damages but it was just a tip on the iceberg, this project will be executed successfully”.
A Community Leader, Chief Felix Nsemo, thanked the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and the World Bank for coming to their aid after a long time of living in fear of losing their property to the gully created by erosion and charged members of the community to work hand in hand with the contractors.
He said: “We know that there will be no fail project because we know that this is the heart of Calabar. The communities that are involve should know that this is their project, do not go and relax in your homes, you must be part and parcel of it, go and see what is happening and take records, where you feel not satisfied the Commissioner is there to address the situation”.
Meanwhile, not less than N500 million worth of property have been lost in two natural disasters that has been a reoccurring decimal in the state. The storm that the victims described as “unprecedented”, affected about 80 houses including schools and places of worship, with household property worth millions of naira destroyed. The destruction also extended to farms where economic trees such as bush mangoes, pears, mangoes and cocoa were pulled down.
One of the victims, Obi Ojong, described the incident as “demoralizing”, as his family has become homeless. Similarly, another victim Nenjom Osim, said that her main concern was safety of her children “it was like a war zone with cries and shouting everywhere amidst the unabated rumbling of the storm”. 

Assessing the disaster, the Director-General, Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Mr. Vincent Aquah described the destruction caused by the storm as heavy on the socio-economic status of the victims.

Aquah promised that concerted efforts would be made by the state Government to address their situations.
The Director-General who put the value of the damages at N300 million commended the good spirited individuals for harbouring the victims and urged them to sustain the tempo.
Similarly in Mabarakom most of the affected persons are now taking refuge with neighbours, relations and friends in other communities.
Though no life was lost several persons who sustained injuries are receiving treatment in different clinics and herbal homes.
For the past two years residents in these communities have lost millions of property to gullies. Some of the buildings are empty because occupants were forced to flee their homes for fear of losing their lives while those that are still living in the neighborhood sleep with their eyes wide open for the fear of being washed down the gullies.
Expressing their anger, the communities said they had written to both the State Government and the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), which happened to be World Bank assisted agency sometime last year came to inspect the site.
“We are now hoping that Cross River State New Map will come to our aid because they have started intervention in other areas and we believe that they will come to our aid but when the day will come that is what we do not know, that is why we are making a passionate appeal to them to hasten it up”.
When contacted, the NEWMAP State Project Coordinator, Mr. Fidelis Anukwa confirmed that the communities have written to them and they have also visited the sites.
He explained that the Cross River NEWMAP cannot ascertain when work is going to commence as the process of getting funding from international bodies will take some time.

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