Amid numerous precautionary measures canvassed to contain the dreaded corona virus, the Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources in Akwa Ibom State, Dr. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson, has called on the people of the state to pay serious attention to personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness, even as the state government is set to clamp down on illegal felling of trees in city centres.
Penultimate Thursday, July 18, 2019, the government of Akwa Ibom State apparently re-opened the stale chapter of the now familiar pestering menace of floods and erosion in the state, bringing its sobering contents on the table of discussion once again.
Courtesy of the fresh state Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson, the state government has deemed it pertinent at this point in the administration of Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel to direct government’s attention to this perennial and recurring disaster that has not only posed a severe threat to lives in the affected areas, but is fast claiming chunk of arable and inhabitable landmass from the people.
By this, the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria and relevant interventionist agencies is bound to be drawn to this plague that, when dastardly incidents recorded across the states of the federation are put together, the overall socio-economic and demographic losses of government are quite enormous.
Like other states of the federation, especially those around the coastal regions, Akwa Ibom has witnessed huge devastation arising from persistent seasonal floodings that have defied government effort to stem its tide of occurrences.
When the Hon. Commissioner embarked on an on-the-spot assessment tour of erosion and flood ravished sites in Akwa Ibom State a few days after assumption of office, it made clear government’s resolve, in conjunction with the federal government and relevant agencies, to fight the menace.
The Hon. Commissioner who had just assumed office Monday, July 15, 2019, and who carried out the exercise in company of top officials of his ministry and those of Nigerpet Structures Ltd., contractual erosion managers in the state, stated that it was pertinent for him to have an on-the-spot assessment of areas most affected by erosion and flood disaster in the state.
Addressing newsmen during the exercise, Ekong Sampson said “Now that I have just assumed office, I felt that I should have a firsthand knowledge about the state of affairs about our environment.
“What the public should expect is government intervention. We have a governor who is very passionate about the environment, and very passionate about the wellbeing of his people. That is why I am here to see things for myself, even under a heavy downpour like this.
“To me, it is better to inspect erosion and flood sites under the rain, so that I can see how the situation is really like. So, even under the rain I am here with my team and the officials of Nigerpet Structures Ltd., the company that has been working on a number of locations affected by gully erosion.”
The Environment Commissioner who reiterated the state government’s concern regarding the high level erosion disaster in the state, especially in the areas visited during the tour, hinted that the state governor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, has directed that remedial measures be put in place as soon as possible.
He therefore appealed to the federal government for immediate intervention, as, according to him, “Akwa Ibom State is under threat”, saying it should see the erosion and flood situations in Akwa Ibom State as very peculiar and pressing, as the environment is under pressure.
On the preventive measures of government, Barr. Sampson noted that government is sensitizing the people on the need to take the issues of erosion and flood very seriously, even when undertaking their construction work, saying that “total compliance with the basic construction standards has to be respected.”
Regarding the corrective measures on those whose breach of construction measures has fueled the flood crisis in the state, he responded that government advocacy has been on the increase that all members of the public should take the issue of protecting the environment very seriously, saying that the issue should not be left to government alone.
Also speaking during the inspection, the Managing Director of Nigerpet Structures Ltd., Mr. Muyeed Wadud, posited that his establishment has been working closely with the state government to bring the situation under control.
The areas toured during the exercise are: Uyo Prisons, Udo Inwang Street ravine, Ubara Street in Use Offot and Etim Okon Usanga Street ravine, all in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
World Bank released N32bn for flood erosion control to Akwa-Ibom-Nigeria
June 26, 20170
Generically speaking, flood has posed an annual recurrent challenge to thousands of people on planet earth, causing landslides, and erosion as consequence of poor drainage control in undeveloped and developing cities of the world.
Particularly in poor African and Asian countries, flooding has leveled settlements and communities, swept away houses, roads and bridges, and has wiped away vulnerable inhabitants of areas prone to incessant flood hits.
In Akwa Ibom State, there have been repeated heartrending reports on occurrences of high level devastation from effect of heavy flooding and erosion that have been the cause of deep concern for the citizenry and the state government.
Devastating flood occurrences have been an age-long issue that have been beleaguering the state, even though development and climate change have constituted a major factor that has been the reason for heightened devastation in flood-prone areas across the state. But the wave of hits has continued to rise, especially in the wake of the Akpabio Administration in the state till date, with an unprecedented water overflows in major roads of Uyo Metropolis such as Oron Road between Four Lane traffic point and Uruan Street junction, Oron Road end of Two Lane, Itiam Street by Udo Umanah junction, chiefly mid IBB Way, etc.
The severity of the flooding has always depended on the level of rainfall of that season, and the state government has been having an uphill task in its attempt to put an end to flooding in communities across major cities of Akwa Ibom State, with emphasis on the perennial flood site at IBB Way in Uyo.
To tackle the recurring flood and erosion menaces that were wreaking untold havoc in many local government areas across the state, the Akwa Ibom State government about two years ago received the World Bank financial support N32b that was earmarked for the management and control of the mounting disaster.
The then Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, Dr. Iniobong Essien, while speaking over the World Bank relief grant to newsmen in Uyo, also hinted that the project would be executed in partnership with the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).
He stressed that proper drainage channel project would be implemented in phases, and when completed, it would reduce the incidence of flooding in the state, adding that floods in the affected communities would be channeled through a 7.5 km drain to an outfall at Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
Going by the position of the then state Environment and Mineral Resources Ministry, the World Bank and its partners have indicated serious commitment geared toward tackling the challenge of erosion in the state.
“For the IBB Way flood control project, designs have been put in place and the initial cost of N52 billion reduced to about N32 billion.
“Once the drainage is constructed, the number of catchment areas around Atan Offot, Atiku Abubakar, Abak Road and the state secretariat complex would be completely de-flooded,” Essien said.
While maintaining that the N32 billion World Bank relief package would also aid in financing two major erosion sites at Etim Usanga and Anua, both in Uyo Local Government Area, Dr. Essien intimated that there were over 1,000 erosion sites across the 31 local government areas of the state.