Rumuekini: Residents cry out as flood sacks families
If they ever took for granted, the small spaces they call home, no matter how spartan they were, over 200 residents of Rumodu, in Rumuekini Community of Obio/Akpor Local Council, would definitely have a rethink whenever the flood water that has taken them captive for days ebbs.
With no where to relocate to from these their ancestral homes, some of the affected persons spend the day in the water-filled homes, and relocate to churches, markets or sundry places to lay their heads when night falls.
As they continue to battle with what life has thrown at them, education for their children and wards has taken the back seat and may remain so until normalcy returns.
Right now, children, who are desperate to be learning alongside their peers in school are, like their parents, wondering when this situation would end so that they can move on with their lives.
When The Guardian visited the community on Monday, some schoolchildren, who decided to brave the odds and make it to school, returned home drenched after plunging into the floodwaters while attempting to cross the wooden footbridge constructed by their parents.But why are children still living in flooded apartments, in spite of the very high risk of contacting dangerous illnesses, or even an epidemic outbreak?
One of the parents responded: “This is our ancestral home (village) and we have nowhere else to go to, neither do we have money to rent new apartments. It is because the government has no temporary IDP camps that we flood victims go to churches and markets to sleep at nights and return home in the morning.”
The residents are specifically blaming the increased flooding witnessed of late in their community on the lack of good drainages at the newly constructed Obiri/Ikwere Airport Road, and Ada-George Road, which has forced floods from the area to Rumuekini.
According to the Chairman of Rumodu Land Development Committee, John Nnamdi Ohor, “the intense flooding has displaced over 200 people, and has forced several children out of school. This kind of development negates the Millennium Development Goals, which stipulates the need for every child to have access to education.”
He continued: “We noticed that the increase in flood is due to the construction work at Obiri/Ikwere Airport Road, and Ada-George Road, where those that handled the projects blocked all the drainages and channelled the water to Rumuekini. That is why the flood is too high this time.
“We are pleading with Governor Nyesom Wike to come to our aid because he has been doing great works in other communities. It is time for him to remember Rumuekini. Apart from the drainages, the only road we have in the area known as School Road, which links us to Port Harcourt Airport is right now impassable,” he stated.
Speaking with some of the school children, was tearful as they all expressed readines to attend school, but unfortunately they are unable.Nine-year-old Miss Vivian Woke, whose home has been submerged for days wants “to go back to school. I feel bad staying out of school due to the flood when other children are in school. We have nowhere to go, and that is why we are appealing to Governor Wike to facilitate our return to normal life, so that we can continue with our education. “
Ten and four-year-old Chidera and Goodluck, some of the pupils, who fell off the improvised bridge on their way to school, said they felt very sad, when they had to return home having soiled their uniforms and books.
One of the parents, Mrs. Eunice Didia, told The Guardian: “We are restless and we no longer sleep. A lot of my neighbours are now hypertensive as they persistently worry about their condition. Also, our children no longer go to school because of the flood situation. So, we appeal to Governor Wike to help us out of this pathetic situation. I know as a father, Wike will not allow his children or wife to go through the kind of condition that we are going through.”
While they appeal to the state government to come to their aid on the one hand, they are also frowning at its failure to monitor the construction jobs done by contractors that handled the Obiri/Ikwere Airport Road project.
Mrs. Grace Amadi, whose house was almost completely submerged said: “It is disheartening that it is the poor construction work that brought this ugly experience to us. I observed that the big drainage at newly constructed airport road before Rumuaholi is blocked, and that is why all the floodwater is sent this way.
“If that drainage is open and the water is channelled through a canal, this sad experience will come to an end. There is need to also fix the only road in Rumuekini in order to further boost the economy of the area.”
Fish Weilder, another resident of the area is of the view that, “there are about three water channels along the Airport Road, but they are all blocked. If government opens up the channels, the stagnant water instead of just building up in Rumuekini will flow away the way it is.
On his part, Mr. Leky, another resident of the area, while regretting the damages done by the flood, said the community cannot handle the challenge alone, hence the need for urgent assistance from the state government.