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Uke Erosion Must Be Stopped Now - Okey Ilonzo


Okey Ilonzo

An experienced civil engineer, professionally licensed to practice in the US and Nigeria, Okey Ilonzo, has sponsored a comprehensive soil erosion study in his hometown, Uke, as well as the  watershed comprising contiguous towns and villages in Idemili North LGA, Anambra state. The New Jersey-based engineer, who has over 30 years of experience in Civil and Environmental Engineering, does a lot of contract work in the US in Flood Control and Dam projects.

Okey Ilonzo, who graduated from University of Lagos and Columbia University, New York, traveled to his hometown, Uke, during the last Christmas holiday to assess the situation on the ground firsthand. He was alarmed by the extent to which unchecked storm water discharge from Uke and surrounding communities has devastated every section of his hometown. What he saw convinced him that something substantive must be done soon or else the entire communities sharing the same watershed with Uke could be wiped out if the current pace of storm-water erosion is allowed to proceed unchecked.

At conclusion of his last December trip, Ilonzo notified the WIEF Executive Director, Dr, Odili Ojukwu, about his decision to sponsor a comprehensive soil erosion study of the entire watershed comprising Uke and contiguous communities.


Dr. Odili Ojukwu (left foreground) listens to President General of Uke Town Union as he receives the visiting WIEF team

Foundation of building, extreme left, is undermined by constant erosion of access road






The emergent roadside gully in this photo was excavated within only one rainy season. Dirt roads in Uke are lowered several inches yearly due to ferocious erosion by storm water runoff emanating from within and outside the community.











Uke Town Union President General, Mr. Mbaneme, chatting with visiting WIEF Executive Director, Dr. Ojukwu, in Uke on January 19, 2010. 





If storm water runoff remains unchecked , this freshly graded dirt road shall soon be ruined. 






The building on the left used to be at same level with access dirt road next to it. In less than a decade, driveway to the house and access  road have been lowered several feet due to erosion. Building foundation is totally exposed thereby making its imminent collapse inevitable





Access roads are lower than surrounding terrain due to erosion by heavy rainfall.. 



Grading the dirt roads during dry season actually helps to make them more erodible. 





The buildings on the left and electric power line on the right shall definitely collapse as the roadside gully in this photo continues to deepen and widen with each rainy season. Eke Uke, the commercial hub of the community, is often rendered inaccessible during the peak rainy season due to the menace of storm-water erosion at this location.








Roadside drainage channel in this photo is partly clogged with solid waste in vicinity of Eke Uke Market. Solid waste pollution is no longer restricted to densely populated urban centers. Plastics and other synthetic fibers do not breakdown easily and could last in the soil for decades.





Blockage of roadside gutters forces storm water to excavate the unpaved dirt road..

Uke community receives storm-water discharge which originates from neighboring communities that lie upstream on a higher elevation. Storm water runoffs from parts of Abatete and Umuoji usually converge in Uke community before emptying into the tributaries of the Idemili River. Heavy surface water flow over loose sandy porous soil, commonly found in erosion-prone areas of Anambra state, constitute a destructive mix; huge amount of soil can be excavated within a very short interval of time. Arresting the storm-water discharge which is destroying everything in its path is an urgent task that cannot wait even another day. The Uke community is quite enthusiastic to partner with WIEF in combating the most urgent threat to the peace of mind and socioeconomic wellbeing of Ndi Uke, in particular and residents of the entire watershed, in general.

The Anambra state government contractor, RCC, contributed to worsening of the soil erosion menace at the Uke-Abatete road junction after the company negligently abandoned its camp site without any remediation work to rehabilitate and protect exposed topsoil in the area. Multiple gullies have since emerged at the Uke junction and are now threatening to sever the major arterial highway which links the commercial city of Onitsha with southern Anambra and northern Imo states. At WIEF's prodding, the Obi administration in Awka had promised to see to an immediate remediation of this eyesore at the Uke junction. This pledge has never been fulfilled and yet, RCC still gets lucrative road-building contracts from the Obi administration paid for with Uke taxpayers' money. Opinion leaders in Uke community are obviously incensed by this affront on their ancestral turf and have sworn to seek redress soon through all possible means.



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