Delta Community Sends SOS to Buhari, Okowa, NDDC over Collapsed Road
Precious Ugwuzor reports that with the coming rains, the Ubulu-Uku Community in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State has sent an SOS to the President Buhari, the state government, as well as the NDDC over the poor condition of their roads
A community is as good as its roads but for the Ubulu-Uku Community in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, their lot has been that of a people cut off from civilisation and their neighbours.
With the poor state of the roads, their fears of being totally cut off once the rains start in earnest are about to materialise.
As the rainy season is set to start in full, the people of Ubulu-Uku are living in fear over the poor state of the only road linking them to their farms and other communities, the Ubulu-Uku- Onicha Ugbo road.
Every dry season, for many years now, the townspeople have contributed millions of naira to sand-fill the road as a temporary remedy, but once the rainy season comes, all the sand would be washed away and the road would become a mass of gullies and craters.
Sadly, many successive administrations have abandoned the road for over three decades.
In fact, that people are still passing through the road today was due to the magnanimity of the incumbent chairman of Aniocha South Local Government Area, Mr. Jude Chukwuwike, who sand-filled the road last November to enable the community celebrate the Christmas and the New Year season.
Now, following the fear and apprehension over the imminent threat of rain, residents of the community have urged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the World Bank to save a part of their town from being wiped out by erosion that has been ravaging the area.
A community leader, Mr. Mark Chidozie, told our correspondent that Ubulu-Uku- Onicha Ugbo road has suffered neglect by successive administrations, “from James Ibori , Emmanuel Uduaghan and now our brother Ifeanyichukwu Okowa.
“None of them remembered the road. We were happy when our brother took over but the administration will soon be over; it is better late than never. We are appealing to him to come to our rescue.
“Our son, chairman of Aniocha South Local Government Area, Pastor Jude Chukwuwike, removed a serious burden from us and gave us relief when he sand-filled the road, so we were not taxed during the 2021 Christmas and New Year celebrations.
“However, by April, what he did will be spoilt by erosion. We will have to suffer from April till November when we contribute money again to put the road in order in preparation for Christmas and New Year. If we don’t do the road, our children will not come home.
“Rain is seen as showers of blessing and every community prays for the blessings to pour down and quench the heat that is causing serious havoc in families.
” People pray for the rain to return to enable them go back to the farm to avoid shortage of food and hunger, but, on the contrary, the fear of rain is the beginning of wisdom for the people of Ubulu-Uku, especially those who reside along Ubulu-Uku-Onicha Ugbo road.
“They live in fear of ravaging erosion that always causes havoc on the road. It will not be out of place to say that, if not for their farm, the villagers who live along the road from Ubulu-Uku to Onicha Ugbo would have been praying fervently for God to hold the rain and allow the dry season to continue.
“The reason is that, once the rainy season comes back fully, by April, to pass through the road would be like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, as only the courageous can use the road, but that notwithstanding, many of these courageous ones still end up in orthopedic hospitals or traditional bone-setters homes.”
Another indigene, Mr. Tony Osadebe, said: “Why we are begging that the government should come to our rescue now is that, during the rainy season, the road will be wrecked by gully erosion and rendered impassable to the extent that walking through what is left of the track would be like passing through a death trap.
” The road project was awarded to a prominent son of the state by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), that is why the community is sending a Save Our Soul message to President Muhammadu Buhari; Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and all well-meaning Nigerians to intervene and end the suffering of residents in the area.
” Our homeland is turning into a place of torment. The residents of the town, who are predominantly farmers and civil servants, been running away from the land of their birth not because of upsurge in criminal activities, outbreak of epidemics or any untoward factors, but because of government’s total neglect of the area, which has been cut off from other communities in Ubulu-Uku and neighbouring towns by erosion.
“When rainy season comes, only the strong and courageous can walk through the road; many have been injured, maimed, and vehicles and other property have been damaged in the course of forging through the road.
“After the dry season, our people, who are mostly farmers, will no longer access their farmlands. This has heightened fear of imminent hunger and starvation, as the only road that leads to the farms will be completely destroyed by erosion.
“There is also anxiety that, if work does not commence to salvage the road immediately, in a few months’ time, many people would be trapped in their homes, which are likely to be destroyed by erosion.”
On her part, United States-based Ubulu-Uku indigene, Catherine Williams, travelled from the U.S. for the funeral of her sibling, Boniface, recently, but became more devastated as she could not get to her family compound with the three SUVs that were conveying her entourage and valuables.
The embittered Williams said: “I have never been embarrassed like this. I was coming home in company of my friends from the U.S. and those who joined us from Lagos. We had a smooth ride to Delta State, and I was so happy that we arrived safely. Just to enter my street, Onicha-Uku Quarters, in Ubulu-Uku, we were not able to advance because of the dilapidated nature of our road.
“We had no alternative than to abandon our vehicles and we paid heavily for people to convey our loads on their heads, as neither cart pushers nor motorcycles could pass through the road. To walk through the road was like walking through the valley of the shadow of death, because it was in the worst state of dilapidation. We did not arrive my home without minor injuries.
“We daughters and sons of Ubulu-Uku in diaspora are asking the offence that the Onicha-Uku and Onicha-Okpe people committed that they have been abandoned by government. They voted for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is in control of Delta State. The last time I visited home was about one year ago. I wonder what the road would look like in one year’s time.
” We understand that government is aware that the contract to repair the road was awarded many times to a sitting senator who boasted that nothing would be done to him. Our son, Okowa, should do the road while he should help us prevail on the NDDC to come out with its Investigation on the road contract.
“On behalf of Ubulu-Uku people at home and in diaspora, I am appealing to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the World Bank to do something drastic to avert a extermination of our people who are already suffering from vicarious liability.”
According to Diokpa Eziashi, an elder of the town, “the road is usually impassable from April to December each year due to the deep gully and flooding situation, which also results in serious flooding around homes within the affected areas in Ubulu-Uku.
“During this period, motorists and commuters are forced to take alternative routes to other communities. The flooding situation usually on the road has compelled affected residents to build walls on both sides of the road in order to protect their properties from floods, but without results.
“We thank our LGA chairman, Mr. Jude Chukwuwike, who sand-filled the road for us last December. It was the best thing that happened to us as our children were able to return home for Christmas and New Year celebrations.
“Those who did burial of their loved ones and those who had weddings and other activities were happy to have access to their homes. But the relief will soon be over, as the rain is returning gradually. I want to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into our matter and order full-scale Investigation into who the contract was awarded to many times by the NDDC.
“I am also appealing to our son, Senator Okowa, to save us from being exterminated by erosion; let him come to our rescue. He has a few months more in office, if our son cannot do the road for us, who will do it, as successive governors had abandoned the road?
” Many of them played politics with the road, promising to fix it for us, but the moment they entered as governors, they abandoned us. We know that Okowa is aware that the contract to repair the road had been awarded many times and money paid for the job, but while the Federal Government is Investigating, our son should help us fix the road.”
Quote “When rainy season comes, only the strong and courageous can walk through the road…After the dry season, our people, who are mostly farmers, will no longer access their farmlands. This has heightened fear of imminent hunger and starvation, as the only road that leads to the farms will be completely destroyed by erosion”