Ikot Efanga community in the throes of gully erosion
Most residents of this small community, especially the landlords are living in fear, as the thought of losing their property assails them regularly. At the major erosion site, the depth of the opening is over 100 feet deep. The situation, which only got worse in the last couple of months, has already swallowed up over 20 houses, throwing their owners into desperation.
When The Guardian visited the community, some of the residents had started fleeing their houses, especially those that the chances of their houses going down are enormous.
Unfortunately, some residents, mostly tenants, who desire to relocate, are impaired by their lack of financial muscle to hire new apartments elsewhere in town owing to difficult times occasioned by the economic recession.
This group of residents, and landlords in the area are flaying both the state and federal governments for alleged insensitivity, and negligence. In tears, a widow, Mrs. Uduak Christopher Eyo, who lost her husband recently, said he never recovered from the loss of their home to the gully erosion three months ago.
Left with five children to cater for, she said when they lost their home eight months ago, they became tenants in the same community. “My husband died of the pain of losing our home to the big hole. He was one of those who had been concerned since the beginning of this problem, but we ended up losing our home and he died because of it. Now, I, and my children are left alone to suffer. How will I start raising money to pay rent after living in my own house?”
Another victim, Mrs. Peace Egbe, whose house has been half consumed by the gully erosion, lamented the state government’s alleged neglect of the people of community.She said on several occasions, members of the community, including the late Eyo, had written to the
state House of Assembly, over the threat posed by gully erosion, but help has yet to come.
Reacting to allegations of no-performance leveled against it by communities ravaged by erosion in the council, one of the agencies whose job is to address the erosion issues in the state, Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, (NEWMAP), funded by World Bank, said that it was not crafted to attend to all erosion matters, but rather to show best practice to other agencies.
State Project Coordinator, NEWMAP, Cross River State Project Management Unit, Mr. Fidelis Anukwa, disclosed that the ongoing intervention in five gully erosion sites at Atakpa, Ikot Awantim, Nyagasang, Edim Otop, and Ikot Ekpo, were all located in Calabar metropolis.
He said, “How I wish we could do everything when it comes to erosion, but unfortunately, NEWMAP is not crafted to do everything, but we are crafted to show best practices; to show how it should be done so that others will continue where we stop.
“Already, Calabar Municipality has taken a better part of NEWMAP efforts in Cross River State, because the five sites where there are ongoing interventions are all in Calabar. The upcoming ones, two of them are also in Calabar, and designs have reached advanced stage for those ones. The project is not a Calabar-based project, it is a Cross River State-wide project, and we must scale out to other communities so that we reach them,” the NEWMAP chief said.
Anukwa who said the outfit was not an emergency intervention agency added: “If there is some severity that has to do with emergency, I will advise that the affected communities approach the government agency that deals with emergency issues. For us, we have chosen a number of sites we are going to intervene. Until we finish those ones, we are not going to take up any other one.”
The NEWMAP boss, who said the outfit was gradually moving from Calabar metropolis, to other local councils across the state said: “I assure you that we also have guidelines that determine where we work, and what we do at every point in time. But truly if there are people out there that have not felt our presence, they should hang on a bit, we are going to be there.”Over 10 communities in the state are battling gully erosion, which has claimed lots of lives and property.
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