Correspondent STEVE OKO, reports that communities in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State have been cut off from the rest of the state following recent gully erosion that occurred in the area.
Isuikwuato fondly known as “the Land of the Generals” has a long history of gully erosion, but the recent one that occurred at Ugwuaba, has completely cut off communities in the entire LGA from the rest of the state.
Military top brass like Gen. Ike Nwachukwu ( retd.), Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, among others are all from Isuikwuato. Despite their immense contributions to nation building, successive Federal Governments have not deemed it necessary to find solution to the long-standing erosion problem in the area, and surrounding towns and villages.
The recent gully erosion which happened about seven kilometers away from the Abia State University Uturu (ABSU),split the Uturu- Isuikwuato federal highway into two.
The highway is the only road that links Enugu and Anambra states via Okigwe and Uturu with some ancient and important towns in Abia like Igbere, Item, Abiriba, Ohafia, Nkporo and Arochukwu.
By this sad development, motorists accessing these towns from Uturu will have to pass through Okigwe to Umuahia / Uzuakoli route. This has brought untold hardship to both motorists and affected communities.
The depth of the frightening gully which occurred right in the middle of the road measures about 15 metres. It could worsen off in the days ahead unless urgent remedial measures are initiated to save the situation.
Major cracks have already developed on both ends of the snapped road indicating that more portions would cave in just in matter of days.
The plight of the locals was visible on their faces as they openly lamented their ordeal when Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, visited the site to see things for himself.
The folks who came out in their numbers begged the governor to urgently come to their rescue. Shouts of “Governor bia zoputa anyi,” meaning “Governor come and save us” rented the air. Governor Ikpeazu was almost broken down by emotion as the locals cried out for help.
In response, however, Gov. Ikpeazu lamented that the menace “is beyond the help of the state government,” The governor said states had no emergency funds for incidents of such magnitude. He said it was only the Federal Government that could help out “in situations like this.”
Unfortunately, Ikpeazu said “Abia state has not received a dime from the Federal Government as Ecological Fund since 2015.” He noted that emergencies of that size could only be tackled with ecological fund.
Ikpeazu expressed shock and worry over the sad development, insisting that no state can tackle such magnitude of gully erosion without federal assistance.
He said: “This is a disaster, a huge risk. It is beyond thecapacity of the state government. I passed through this road recently. The road is now completely gone. The two communities are now separated. We will take the pictures to the federal government and apply for its intervention.” It is only worrisome that Abia has not received a dime from federal government as ecological fund since 2015″.
The governor, however, said the state would create a diversion 200 meters away from the gully site as part of interim measures to alleviate the plight of motorists. He also said the state would step up sensitisation of communities to relocate from areas prone to dangerous erosion.
Isiukwuato has been prone to erosion and many houses have come under serious threat by the menace. But sadly enough, the Federal Government is yet to complete any erosion control project in the area as abandoned vehicles and earth-moving equipment liter the site of another major erosion site at Oluluala.
The site has simply become a ‘yard for abandoned trucks and construction equipment’ since seven years ago when the Federal Government awarded the contract for its control.
Fresh gully erosions are developing on the road, thus,worsening the ordeals of the people even as many houses in the area are under imminent threat.
Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, representing Abia North in the upper legislative Chamber of the National Assembly, has severally lamented over the failure of the Federal Government to tackle major erosion sites in the zone, and holistically rehabilitate the Okigwe- Isuikwuato- Ohafia- Arochukwu highway.
He had equally moved a motion at the red chamber which made the senate declare emergency on erosion in the state but ever since then, there are no signs that Abuja is interested or concerned about the ordeals of the people.
Not a few people from the area and beyond, say that something practical and urgent has to be done to reconnect the communities separated by the recent incident.
The fact remains that if no quick measure is initiated to salvage the situation the site which has become a death trap may claim the lives of innocent motorists and commuters oblivious of the recent development.