Residents Call for Rescue as Akwa Ibom Community Sinks into Ravine
Afaha Oku village is one of communities within Uyo capital city which hosts two major institutions, the prestigious Cornelia Conelly College (CCC) and some part of the University of Uyo town campus, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Same village also provides access into the Uyo City polytechnic, and also links Urua Ekpa and Uyo village roads which serves as gateways to Calabar Itu highway.
As significant as Afaha Oku community is to the existence of Uyo, the capital City of Akwa Ibom State, this community is severely threatened by gully erosion and deep ravine which is threatening the existence of the entire community.
Though the fears expressed by many that the entire community may soon cave into the near bottomless ravine may sound a bit exaggerated for those who may not have gone round the community, the reality that not less than ten buildings cave in every rainy season, gives reason to fear the prediction may come true.
While some may have thought that the badly affected and almost irredeemable side of the community, behind the University of Uyo, round to Uyo village road and Eka street on the right side of Afaha Oku road was the only side to be scared of, and therefore began relocating from the area or avoid further development as existing buildings were fast caving in, the left hand side of the village, accessed through CCC junction, was artificially dragged into the natural landslide by JVL, a construction company engaged by the World Bank in 2005.
JVL as explained by residents of the affected area was engaged by the World Bank in 2005 to construct the Udo Usanga, Ekpene Ntan, Akpan Eton, up-to Urua Ekpa road.
The construction company, according to residents of the area tricked the then village head into accepting that red earth be removed from Akpan Eton, one of the streets earmarked for construction, to fill other areas with a promise to refill, provide drainage and construct the road which was said to be part of the contract awarded.
Unfortunately, JVL not only abandoned some parts of the awarded roads at various stages of completion, but also diverted heavy volume of water into the deeply excavated Akpan Eton street.
However, the roads abandoned by JVL were reawarded by the NDDC in 2016, but the deeply excavated street was once again ignored and abandoned, probably due to the degree of damage caused by the JVL.
As should be expected therefore, the heavy volume of water through the deeply excavated road not only introduced a ravine due to heavy flood along the street which gradually sent residents packing by rapidly swallowing buildings, but also created a link to connect the major ravine on the other side of the road and wrapped the entire Afaha Oku community for possible sinking.
Narrating the ordeals on behalf of residents of the area, one of the landlords, Mr Titus Jerome Udoh confirmed that the road was motorable before the unfortunate excavation by JVL, which later abandoned the road in 2005.
His words “The Company was to construct roads around here, including this road, but they instead came and removed the earth over there and diverted all the water from Urua Ekpa to this road. That was the genesis of this gully. So you can imagine all the volume of water from Urua Ekpa passing through the road”.
Udoh said residents of the area had since 2006 forwarded several letters to concerned ministries of government, appealing to them to come to their aid, but to no avail.
“Myself and other residents of this area some years ago wrote a letter to the then Commissioner for Environment, Mrs Valerie Ebe who later became a deputy governor, but till today nobody has acknowledged receipt of such letter. We wrote another to the then Commissioner for Works, Mr Don Etim, no response.
At a point we were advised to write and currier a personal letter to the then Governor Godswill Akpabio and call on him to intervene and help us out, we did, but no action”.
“We have invited construction companies, Directors of concerned ministries, the media and recently the House of Assembly member representing Uyo State Constituency, Hon. Monday Eyo, he came with some members of the house, till today, nothing has happened, buildings are caving in everyday and landlords are relocating”. He lamented.
The retired non teaching staff of the University of Uyo who expressed fears of what may befall the area as the rains are getting serious, therefore appealed to Governor Udom Emmanuel and the NDDC to please rescue the entire Akpan Eton state and Afaha Oku community from an avoidable danger that if left unattended to, may facilitate the fast wrap up and sinking of the entire Afaha Oku community.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Afaha Oku Village council, Chief Oscar Edet Ekpanya who regretted that several appeals by the community for rescue had fallen on deaf ears in the past, however expressed optimism that Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel would not abandon an entire community to sink.
“We have been inviting politicians, the media and everyone we thought could help us. The 2005 excavation by that construction company which handled the World Bank jobs by the other side of the village is facilitating the wrap up of the entire village.
We are now surrounded by gully, we are so scared because we do not know how the rains might be this year. We really need help from state government, from NDDC and from anyone who can help Afaha Oku”. He pleaded
Chief Ekpanya who complained the land slide has also affected the economic life of the people, said the erosion has completely cut the people off neighbouring communities, like Uruan where women were getting fresh farm produce from the villages before being cut off by the landslide.
“Life is no longer easy because we cannot go through the next village”. He said.
Idongesit Ashameri, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State