Operation Green Parrot - Newsreel
 

Governor Obi Should Visit Onitsha Flood Victims - WIEF

 

Flooded middle-class estate complex outlined in red in satellite photo   (click here to enlarge image) 

 

Over 10,000 inhabitants of the 500-building middle-class housing estate in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra state and rest of south-central Nigeria, were paralyzed when a three-day nonstop rainfall brought unprecedented disaster to their doorsteps in late July 2009. Eyewitness account described the Bridge Head Housing Estate as a “lake of houses” because only rooftops of buildings in the development were visible and everything else was under floodwater which has devastated that part of the city. Alarmed and panicked women and children were reported to be screaming in distress for help as they scrambled, often by swimming through the murky floodwater, for safety to drier grounds of adjoining neighborhoods of Fegge and Upper Iweka. Household properties of residents were seen sailing on top of the floodwater which swept everything on its way downstream toward Okpoko and beyond.

"I was here when Chief Jim Nwobodo built and opened this estate in the 80s. It was a great celebration. Everybody wanted to live in this estate. It was really a hot cake. But after Nwobodo left, nobody has done anything to keep the estate in good shape. It now looks like a slum with glorified buildings", laments the tearful Pa Nwabufor Nnabuenyi who has resided in the flooded housing estate for decades. "People are really suffering here and nobody seems to be listening. Perhaps, they are waiting for the day when all those staying there would die before they can come and do something," distressed Nnabuenyi concluded. 

 

"Dredged" channel, photographed 2 years ago, was blocked by solid waste soon after construction. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Since the elongating lull in the Nwangene Drainage Project, we have been virtually submerged by flood" - President General of Bridge Head Housing Estate Community, Jerome Chikeluba (Engineer).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until recently, flooding in eastern Fegge was confined to the Silas Works and Ochanja neighborhoods. Continued increase in storm water discharge citywide, together with total blockage of drainage along the Otumoye/Nwangene Creek, have resulted in diversion of accumulated liquid waste in the flood plain into the Housing Estate, which is to the south of Silas Works Road (shown in the picture)

 

 

What was characterized as dredging should have better been described as unclogging of the natural drainage channel which had become choked up with mountains of solid waste and illegally constructed structures. Throughout the Otumoye/Nwangene Creek basin, debris have taken up the space previously occupied by spring water. WIEF conducted an extensive inspection tour of the work site at early state of the “dredging” project and compiled elaborate pictorial documentation of the situation of things at the time. Some poignant observations were made and reported about the inadequacy of the work being done, but no one took notice or cared. The solid waste excavated from the recreated drainage channel was simply dumped at edge of the canal by the government contracting company and was never removed for disposal away from the area. Within only a few months of heavy rainfall, the excavated debris fell back into the channel and blocked it again. Furthermore, since the commencement of the “dredging” project in 2007, there has never been any maintenance work commissioned by Anambra state government to ensure that the channel remains open and functional. The fact of the matter is that the so-called “dredging” contract was poorly executed and therefore, never worked as intended even for one day.

 

With blockage of Otumoye/Nwangene Creek drainage, flooding is inevitable in Fegge 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silas Works Road & Zik Avenue junction suffers annual flooding during rainy seasons. Whole area is deserted as traders and roadside artisans flee the devastated neighborhood for months at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stagnant flood water in picture covers most of the Silas Works and Ochanja neighborhoods for many months of the rainy season. Population of pests, especially flies and mosquitoes, increases several folds and severely afflict the health and well being of residents of the area and entire business community.

 

 

 

 

 Whole premises can be submerged under feet of dirty water mixed with sewage & debris

 

 

 

Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra state 

The buck must stop at someone’s desk. Someone was responsible for calling the shots that misfired or missed the mark and it was not by accident. “Mea culpa” by the Obi administration is a minimum requirement for it to show a credible intent to amend its errors of the past. Has the Obi administration learned anything which would persuade it to plan and execute better going forward? All one hears and sees are claims which itemize both the Otumoye/Nwangene Creek dredging and the Umuchiana gully erosion remediation projects as major accomplishments of the Obi administration. The current approach has obviously failed to deliver protection for residents of the Bridge Head Housing Estate. Is there any change of heart and an honest desire by the Obi administration to try something new in the planning, design and execution of its public works projects in the state? As the saying goes, only fools would keep repeating the same thing while expecting different outcomes.

Education is needed by the employees in the government bureaucracy and institutions as they plan, research and regulate the development of our collective living space. Likewise, education is also needed in mainstream society in order for the best ideas of governance to work for benefit of the generality of Ndi Anambra. What is missing here is the political leadership required to set the machinery of purposeful socioeconomic development of the state in motion. Leadership includes the political courage to admit errors of omission or commission where needs be because such a gesture lends credibility to any declared intent by the incumbent administration to toe a new path of change for the better.

Governor Obi should conduct an inspection tour of the flood disaster in the Bridge Head Estate without further delay. The victims of this man-made disaster are bona fide residents of Anambra state in dire need and they deserve the empathy and understanding of our governor and the rest of us in a very difficult time like this.

 

 

 

 

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