By Emma Elekwa, Onitsha; Bassey Anthony, Uyo and Chris Njoku, Owerri
How eight-year-old boy was swept away in Anambra
Flood victim rescued, hospitalized in Owerri
Residents groan as floods rage in Akwa Ibom communities
These are not the best of times for many communities in different parts of the country where the rainy season is wreaking havoc. From Lagos and Anambra states where the floods have claimed lives to Imo and Ebonyi states where homes are vehicles were destroyed and roads were washed away, it has been tales of sorrow and tears.
The development has heightened fears of more flood-impelled disasters ahead since the rainy is still far from ending.
Residents of Nkpor community in Idemilli North Local Government Area Anambra State were left in mourning penultimate Sunday after an eight-year-old boy was swept a gully by a combination of floods from the premises of Immaculate Hearts Sisters Convent and Our Ladies Industrial Centre.
The Nation gathered that the corpse of the deceased boy was not recovered until five days later at a location about half a kilometre away from the spot where he was swept into the gully with one of his hands broken.
The victim, identified as Izuchukwu, was said to be returning home with his mother around 7.30 pm when the incident occurred.
Narrating the incident, a resident of the area who identified himself as Daniel Egbo, said: “As the innocent boy and his mother approached the gully, which they had to pass through on their way home, he started running faster than his mother.
“The mother sensed danger and was calling him desperately to come back, but the more she shouted, the faster he ran until he reached the narrow part of the gully.
“As he made to jump over the gully, the surging flood swept his feet off and he plunged into it.”
Egbo added that the mother, who had a baby strapped on her back, attempted to jump into the gully to rescue her son but was held back by some youths. Otherwise, he said, the woman and the baby on her back would also have drowned.
Some sympathisers, who revealed that the family had earlier lost three members, blamed government for doing nothing about the deadly gully over the years, even if it is constructing a ring or box culvert to link the road to the streets.
A member of the community and former Chairman of the Idemili branch of Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Samuel Chukwukelu, accused successive governments of abandoning most roads in the community.
He said: “The contractor who was awarded the road project from Our Ladies Road through Uke Street to Attah Road, linking Nkpor/Umuoji Road, abandoned the project half way at the erosion prone area.
“The gully has increased in width and depth with the surging floods and has been converted to a refuse dump site by the residents.
“The boy’s death is very unfortunate and unwarranted because it could have been averted if successive governments had done the needful.”
The deceased boy’s father, Chinwike Mosolo, a vulcanizer from Ezeagu in Ebonyi State, told our correspondent in an interview that the ugly experience would remain unforgettable in his memory.
He said: “Life has been cruel to me and my wife, because we can’t understand why we have to lose three kids in the same way. My wife attempted suicide twice after we returned from where we went to bury our son, the latest victim of flooding.
“If not for the timely intervention of our neighbours who arrived at the scene promptly in the two occasions, she could have died.
On her part, the mother, Gloria, who was in shock, described the scenario that played out between her and her deceased son on that fateful day as a movie and a mystery.
She said: “I keep wondering how my son managed to break away from my grip on that night. The boy would have been alive if he had listened to my calls while he ran towards the erosion area. It was the same fate that had befallen my two other children as they also fell into the gully during rainfall on their way from school.
“My son, Izuchukwu, was everything to me since we had lost two of his older siblings. He told me he wanted to be a medical doctor and we assured him that we were going to help him to fulfill his dream. But look at what has happened. He died without fulfilling his dream.”
Gloria also lamented that her means of livelihood was under threat as the shop where she does tailoring was also affected by erosion.
She sobbed: “I am still in serious pains and shock at the moment.
“Even when I recover, there may not be anything to fall back on for now as the floods entered my shop and destroyed my sewing machines at the time we went to bury our son.
“My husband’s vulcanising work is also not thriving. We are pleading with kind-hearted individuals to come to our aid.
“We are passing through a traumatic period and need help. We hope that society will help to give us a sense of belonging.
“The classmates of Izuchukwu came to commiserate with us after we returned home from where we buried him.”
Visitor to Owerri in close shave with death
But it was not only in Anambra that flood wreaked havoc. In Imo, a young lady from Abi State identified simply as Ada Adiele only escaped death by a whisker after she was rescued from a ditch where she was swept into by a raging flood resulting from a heavy downpour in Owerri, the state capital.
An eyewitness said the victim, who was being treated at Life Spring Hospital, Owerri where she was revived, was said to have fallen into the ditch after the road was submerged.
According to the Acting Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Imo State, Mr Chukwuemeka N. Odinmba, the victim was identified with the aid of her Zenith Bank ATM card which had fallen off her hand.
Odinmb said: “The lady was a visitor to Owerri, the capital of Imo State. The flood carried her all the way from the popular IMSU Junction to the NSCDC junction where some personnel saw her struggling in the flood and joined other good-spirited Nigerians to rescue her.”
The flood had also destroyed many structures and property worth millions of naira at Works Layout. It destroyed culverts that connected adjoining streets with other streets in the area and caused panic among residents.
Many edifices which previously housed many tenants are now on the verge of falling inside the gullies created by the erosion caused by heavy rainfall.
At Akwakuma area of Owerri North and Ihiagwa and Nekede areas of Owerri West, many people forced to stay indoors as flood took over the communities. The flood also took over the residential areas. Inhabitants of the area were seen swimming through the flood to access their houses while others were scooping water out of their homes.
The story is not different in such areas as MCC Road, Urratta. Residents, who lamented the situation, said it took them hours to leave their homes for work.
Flood wreaks havoc in Ebonyi
Ebonyi State has not been spared the fury of floods. Ogwuma Edda community in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, recently suffered yet another landslide that saw economic trees, domestic animals and other valuables swept away by the natural disaster.
Some of the trees and other items uprooted by flood were deposited on the road, leading to the community being cut off from the rest of the world. The blockade has resulted in untold hardship for the people who now have to take longer routes to and from the town. Consequently, commercial motorcyclists have doubled their fares.
The foundations of many buildings were left exposed by landslides that forced the owners and inhabitants of such buildings to vacate them. Our correspondent gathered that no fewer than 20 people were sacked from their homes as a result of the natural disaster.
Fortunately, no life was lost as the people were said to have noticed the incident before it occurred. It was said that the people whose houses were destroyed by the landslide had left home immediately they noticed serious cracks on the buildings.
Mr Anya Nnachi, whose storey building is on the verge of collapse, said he had been forced to move his family out. He has also said he had moved all his property out of the house on whose walls cracks were noticeable.
He said: “You see this house? I wish to take you round it. This building is adversely affected because we have moved all our belongings from the building. We no longer live here.
“We are human beings, so if we sense danger, we have to run away. There are so many cracks inside the building.
“It was on Saturday night that we noticed that the wall was sliding. It fell by itself. No fewer than four houses were removed. You can still see the blocks there.
“Ordinarily in Edda, we have the living room and the kitchen. So, those ones were kitchen. It is only those blocks you can see there from the building. But the building was not roofed. It was supposed to be roofed this August before the landslide.
“The first time this occurred was in 2007. That was when this road was constructed by Brass Construction Company when all these retaining wall was built.
“What we saw is that since it was not filled up in that 2007, there was also landslide and the land filled up itself but some areas did not.”
Nnachi traced the genesis of the landslide to 2007 when the state government constructed the road. He claimed that prior to that, the community had never experienced any landslide.
He said: “After the 2007 landslide, another one happened in 2015 at the other side. But this one is more serious than others. This one is bigger. You can see the other compound was affected.
“This one is more serious. It is just that the land is trying to refill itself. And at the end of it, you will see water springing up from the holes created by the landslide.
“What it means is that there is water under the valley. Our forefathers lived here and there was no record of this.
“This road was the other way. It was during the construction that they delved into the other part of the road. The side they delved into needed to be filled back.
“Like ever since this one happened, there has not been another case. It was the slit made to the hilly part during the construction that made the road constructors cut part of it down before erecting the retaining walls.
“The only thing we know was done wrong as human beings is that after retaining walls, they should have filled it back. The NEMA people have been here.
“We told them that there are drainages in other compounds and the water is falling this way. What should be done is that they should create more drainage so that in the event of flood, it will follow the drainage.”
A teacher in the community, Okoro John Onu, lamented the hardship the incident has caused his job and the economy of the area.
“I am a teacher serving at Umunna Comprehensive Secondary School. Since June 27, 2023, we have been finding it very difficult to come to school because those of us serving here live at Owutu, Ezietiti, and we find it difficult to come up to Umunna because of the incident.
“Since that day we have been going round through Amigbo to Nguzu and down to Umunna. It is costing us a lot.
“Before the incident, I spent N400 to and fro. But now, I spend up to N800 to get to the school. My prayer is that God should touch the government to come to our aid. The government should help us clear the way to ease our movements,” Onu said.
A commercial motorcycle operator, Chukwu Johnson, who hails from Ekoli-Edda, said the landside has affected his earnings.
He said: “I am a cyclist. This incident has been a problem to us. We have been suffering it for about two weeks. Pedestrians find it difficult to pass the road, not to talk of motorcycle and vehicles.
“It has been affecting my daily income because we no longer get enough passengers. It has been a problem to my family and other people. It made us to hike the fare.
“We used to convey passengers for N100; now it is N200. We doubled the fare because of the bad nature of the road now. I was making up to N3,000 before but I find it difficult to realize N1,500 now.”
The monarch of the community, HRH Dickson Oboh Okorie, also bemoaned the effects of the incident on the community.
He said: “At Umunna Ogwuma village two weeks ago, we had serious erosion after a heavy downpour. We called it an earthquake, but when the educated ones came and visited me, they said it was a landslide.
“What pained us most is that one house was submerged. Also, all economic trees and economy of the community was adversely affected.
“What we did was to call for the Chairman of the local government area’s intervention. This is the third time we are experiencing this in this community with enormous damage.
“You can see how both up and down sides of the valley were affected. The landslide has blocked the road. There is no movement in that area again. I had to trek out from the village as I was coming for this meeting,” he said.
President General of the area, Onuoha Ama, lamented that the community had been cut off from the rest of the local government and the state.
He called on government to come to their rescue by clearing the blocked road and carrying out works that would ensure there is no reoccurrence.
“It has affected my community and other passersby. There has been no road there since the incident occurred. To attend this meeting, we had to cross that place on our legs to the other side before we got a bike. We have told the House of Assembly members and the Chairman of the local government area about the incident.
“So many things were affected. Like that road is being avoided by travellers. If you are going to Abakaliki now, it is either you trek or go through another community.
“Two buildings were destroyed. One was washed away while the other one had its foundation destroyed.
“The people living in the buildings that were affected have vacated them. More than 20 persons from different families were sacked from the affected area.”
Residents groan as flood rages in Akwa Ibom
Residents of some communities in Akwa Ibom State have been groaning after flood destroyed their roads and left them displaced by weeks of heavy downpour. Urua Ekpa, IBB Way, Atiku Abubakar and Ikpa Road, all in Uyo, are among the areas badly affected by flood.
Residents of Health Centre Road in Ikot Udoma, Mkpok community in Eket Local Government Area are also affected. Houses around the health centre area were submerged by flood while property worth millions of naira was destroyed.
In an inspection tour organised by some concerned youths of Eket in company of our correspondent, it was discovered that the major reason for the flood is the poor execution of the jobs done by contractors that handled the roads in the area.
The drainage system built for the roads are too shallow to channel the volume of water that flows from Idua Road into the ravine located around the broken part of Mkpok Road linking other parts of Eket.
Mostly affected is a building owned by Prince Emmanuel Edem whose entire compound was ravaged by the flood with property destroyed.
Speaking with our correspondent, Edem said that when the road around his house was being constructed by an NDDC contractor, he called the attention of the construction firm to the anomalies he discovered but was rebuffed by the site engineer of the company.
He called on the state government to come to the rescue of residents of the area through remedial attention to avoid the looming disaster as the Meteorological Agency of Nigeria has predicted heavy rains in coming weeks.
It will be recalled that a section of Mkpok Road linking other parts of Eket, along the Health Center Road, was damaged by heavy rainfall, prompting the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, to direct the state’s Ministry of Works to immediately reconstruct the damaged portion of the road.
The Council Chairman of Eket Local Government, Mr. Akaniyene Tommey, applauded the swift and timely response of the state government towards the unfortunate collapse of Mkpok Road due to a heavy downpour.
Tommey expressed gratitude to the governor during a visit to the collapsed portion of Mkpok Road and other erosion affected sites in company with the Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals, Sir Charles Udoh, and the Managing Director of Bulletine Construction Company, Chief Faysal Harb.
The council boss thanked the governor for keeping to his promise to tackle the collapsed road as soon as his attention was drawn to it.
Also fielding questions, the Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Sir Charles Udoh, apologized to the residents of the local government for the unfortunate incident caused by the ever increasing amount of rainfall lately.
He declared that all the necessary arrangements had been made for work to begin on the affected portion of the road, including that of Ediam and Umana Ndon Road, with immediate effect.
The Commissioner further assured that the project would be perfectly executed in a way that would prevent future reoccurrence while also revealing that the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has executed more ecological projects than his predecessors.