Scores of residents of Omaba in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra state on Wednesday protested threatening gully erosion in the area.
They said the menace which was abandoned by the contractors since last year have claimed no fewer than 30 lives and property over the decade it started in the area.
The protesters who carried placards with varying inscriptions, including “Disaster looms in our community”, “we need help from concerned authorities”, “we can’t sit and watch our property washed away”, called on both federal and state governments to come to their rescue.
One of them, Chidi Ndibe, said they decided to take to streets to attract attention ahead of the rainy season.
He said, “The initial time the contractors came here, we were so excited. But suddenly they disappeared. What is more worrisome is that the initial pillars had been eroded by the flood.
“The number of lives and property, including buildings and vehicles are uncountable. No fewer than 30 lives and 10 houses have been lost to the erosion. We wonder what will happen when the rain comes. We don’t know where to run to.”
A landlord in the area, Chief Christopher Okadigwe who said he lost his 4-storey building to the disaster, regretted the steady increasing size of the erosion.
He said, “Since November last year, we’ve not seen the contractors. It is while we were planning for the protest that we saw some people with vehicles, saying they are from NEWMAP and we were asking them what they are here for.
“We want not only Nigeria, but the whole world to hear us. I lost my four-storey building to the erosion. All the stakeholders responsible for the work should come back to site.”
On his part, a grievance committee member overseeing the project. Hon Ikechukwu Oguiyi, expressed worry over the accusations being leveled against his members by residents who he said had lost confidence in them.
He attributed the delay trailing the project to what he described as balance between the NEWMAP and the contractors.
He said, “NEWMAP awarded the contract to MCC in 2017 and the duration was for two years. They started in 2018 from Nkpor flyover. We’ve been granting them the necessary assistance to ensure its completion.
“We’re here to clear our names over accusations from residents of being compromised by NEWMAP and MCC. They said they’ve lost confidence in us. But we’re working earnestly to ensure the project continues and completed.
Reacting, the supervising engineer, Kenneth Nnadi attributed the delay to funding, saying, “the contractor is not on site because he’s is having some financial issues. But he’s working hard to make sure they’re mobilized to site.”