Erosion site in Abia State
Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
Some communities in Abia state, constantly living in fear of being swallowed by erosion, may soon heave a sigh of relief as the federal government has embarked on erosion control projects which would gulp over N700 million.
The two projects, sited at Amachara in Umuahia South and Okwe in Ikwuano local governments respectively, are being funded by the Ecological Fund Office (EFO) and are expected to be completed in seven months’ time.
At separate ceremonies, where the erosion projects were formally handed over to the contractors, the benefitting communities expressed delight that the federal government has finally come to their rescue.
The projects include the Okpurudara Amachara erosion site awarded to Alinat Nigeria Limited at a cost of over N400 million and Okwe-Obuohia erosion site awarded to Bareman Engineering Services at a cost of over N300 million.
The member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Sam Onuigbo, who attracted the projects to his constituency, said that the projects “are very important” to the people given that the frightening gully erosion has been posing great danger to the communities.
He lauded the permanent secretary of EFO, Mrs. Habiba Lawal, who is also the acting secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) for awarding the contracts, which are among the 25 erosion projects approved by the EFO. The federal lawmaker urged Lawal not to relent in her efforts in tackling erosion problems across the nation.
Onuigbo, who is the chairman of the House committee on environment, said that his constituency is erosion-prone with 35 active erosion sites hence “we are appealing to the federal government for more assistance” as several communities are presently crying for help.
He urged the benefitting communities to take full ownership of the erosion projects and give the contractors full support to ensure they are completed within the stipulated time, adding that the urgency of the intervention was aimed at preventing the erosion from cutting off the communities from the rest of the state.
Mrs. Ugwunwanyi Ekugo, who represented the EFO, said that the ecological fund was not easy to assess due to huge number of applications for assistance.
Thus, she said the benefitting communities of Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency should be grateful to their representative for his untiring efforts in drawing the attention of the federal authorities to their plight.
She assured that EFO would constantly monitor the progress of work to ensure that the contractors carry out quality job and called for mutual understanding and cooperation among the respective communities and the contractors handling the projects.
The community leaders who spoke at the flag-off of the erosion projects all emphasised the need for the contractors to avoid shoddy jobs as it would amount to disservice to the people if the projects fail.
Chief Ernest Nwakanma of Okwe community said that his people expected that the erosion project in the community should last over 20 years.
To clear every doubt concerning the quality of the projects, all the contractors and consultants gave firm assurances that the erosion projects would be built with the highest quality, adding that it would stand the test of time and really bring succour to the agrarian communities.