Gully erosion cuts off Nekede community from Owerri
The community which is close to the state capital now has its people who are coming to Owerri town spending a minimum of 1hour as against the 20 minutes they spent in the past.
Because of the parlous state of the road, which now poses serious danger to motorists, those coming into Owerri from the Nekede axis would have to go through Ihiagwa to the Owerri-Port Harcourt road, a distance of over 30 kilometres before getting to Owerri.
The situation is further compounded as the Nekede Polytechnic Road from the Owerri/Aba axis has also collapsed in less than two years after its rehabilitation by the Governor Rochas Okorocha administration.
When Oriental News visited the area, it was discovered that gully erosion has eaten up the road which used to be a major link between Nekede and the Owerri and other parts of the state.
Even motorists and commercial tricycle operators ( Keke) who still take the risk of plying the road had to drop their passengers at a safe distance, and they would then walk across to the other side of the road for fear of the narrow passage created by youths of the community collapsing due to extra weight of vehicles and passengers on it.
Oriental News investigations revealed that the erosion was as a result of the activities of sand miners in the area, who the state government has allowed to continue to excavate sand at the detriment of the environment and people of the area.
Some of the natives of the community, who spoke to Oriental News, said that they now live in constant fear due to the devastating and deplorable nature of the only link road to Owerri municipal, lamenting that several complaints and pleas to the state government to urgently intervene have not yielded any fruit.
Mr Barnabas Ogoma, a native of Nekede, pointed out that it was risky for any motorist to ply the road, especially at night as they could end up into the deep gully.
He accused the state government of not being alive to its responsibilities as all their pleadings to the government to do something to arrest the expanding gully erosion fell on deaf ears.
His words: “As you can see for yourself this road is now nothing but a disaster and all our efforts to get the state government to tackle the problem was not successful. It is a big risk for anybody to drive on this road, especially at night because they could end up in the deep gully which is more than 20 metres.
“We are now living in fear because the houses located along this road may collapse as a result of the speed with which the erosion is eating up the land, that people are still managing to pass through this road is as a result of the youths of the community who have created that narrow passage as most people find it time-consuming to go through Ihiagwa or through Poly roads which are also in terrible states before getting to Owerri municipal which is just about 10 or 15 minutes from here.”
Similarly, Mrs Cordelia Opara called on the state government to declare an emergency on the road before it claims the lives of natives of the community.
She further stated that transport fares have been increased by transporters because of the bad state of the road, pointing out that it is the responsibility of the state government to put the road in other, urging the state governor to fulfill his promise of fixing the road.
“Getting to Owerri municipal from old Nekede is now a big problem because the road has been cut into two by erosion and the last time that Governor Okorocha visited the place before the elections he has promised to complete every road project in Nekede but as you can see our major link road to the capital is very bad, and because of that people now pay more to get to Owerri. So, we are appealing to the state governor to fulfill his promise by ensuring that the road is urgently repaired,” he said.
Also, speaking in the same vein, Mr Magnus Njoku, said that the current state of the road has significantly increased the economic hardship of the people and residents of the community as the prices of goods have gone up owing to the increase in transport fares.
“We appeal to the state government to create an alternative route for the people while he finds solution to the erosion menace on that road,” he said.
Also the monarch of the community, Eze Stephen Agumanu, disclosed that he and members of his cabinet have been holding meetings on how to tackle the erosion menace that is now threatening the economic well-being of his people.
“Our major problem now is how to tackle this menace because the major road that links the community to the state capital is being severed by erosion and so we are appealing to the federal and state governments to come to our rescue and to ensure that our road network is back in good condition,” the monarch appealed.
Meanwhile, the state government in a spirited effort to ensure that the community is not entirely cut off from the rest of the state has commenced the opening of a diversion that will enable commuters and natives access Owerri municipal.
However, until the alternative diversion is completed the people of Nekede may still have to put up with the current situation.