For the residents and landlords of Oduke Layout, Obosi, Anambra State, life has lost its good taste and meaning. Everyday spent within the layout is like living in perpetual agony owing to flood and erosion menace ravaging the area.
While water is regarded as a source of life, the sign of adverse weather change or eventual rainfall brings untold calamity and days of anguish to them, making them to always pray for the sky to remain dry pending the time government would come to their rescue.
Oduke Layout used to be a residential delight because its vicinity. Sandwiched between the busy Awada Layout and Obosi town, the layout was the natural choice of middle-class who erected both private and commercial residential houses outside the bustling city of Onitsha.
But as the layout was witnessing rapid development, schools, hotels and relaxation spots also sprang up to compete with the dwelling houses. It was a roller coaster until the music suddenly changed in 2012. That was when a construction firm handling the Ezeiweka Road in Obosi, channeled its water drainage to face the road leading to the layout, resulting in heavy flooding of the area at any drop of rain.
The flooding has wreaked untold havoc on the people. At the time of filing this report, three persons were reported dead while property worth N300 million were destroyed. Hotel and residential buildings have been deserted and left in ruins as owners could not access the buildings anymore either on foot or by any other means.
During a protest by the residents recently, chairman, Oduke Landlords Association, Nicholas Okechukwu, lamented: “Since 2012, we have been living in hell here. All the schools here have closed down and our children no longer go to school because you can’t predict what will happen when it starts raining while they are in school.
“Various new buildings are presently empty because no tenant will pay and live where he is not safe. Other landlords at various levels of completing their buildings have all stopped work and abandoned the projects. We wrote to the immediate past governor, Mr Peter Obi, who told us that the complaint was sent to the Commissioner for Works, but nothing came out of it till now. We are now sending another ‘Save Our Soul’ (SOS) message to Governor Willie Obiano to come and rescue us.”
Proprietor of the now defunct Ebenezer Foundation International School, Dickson Uronwaudu, narrated how his once flourishing school was swallowed by flood while the pupils have been scattered. He showed Daily Sun a building with four stalls taken over by flood.
An elder in the area, Chief Marcel Okafor, lamented that property in the area instead of appreciating are depreciating as they now beg people to come and occupy their houses free-of-charge for the meantime, but nobody has responded in recent times. He said they were at the verge of extinction unless urgent help came their way.
The immediate past chairman of the area, Chief Uche Orji and another elder, Emmanuel Ezediegwu, likened what erosion and flooding had done to the area as worse than Boko Haram insurgency in the country. They expressed disgust that they still pay property rate to government, but the same government does not seem to care about their welfare.
In an SOS letter to the Commissioner for Works, dated September 3, 2013, the landlords association expressed hope that government would respond positively to their appeal: “The construction company known as CCC constructed a road running from Obosi to Oduke Junction and another running from Ezeiweka Road to Oduke Junction.
“At the same time, drainage channels for water were also constructed from both Obosi and Ezeiweka up to Oduke Junction. Unfortunately, that was where the drainage construction stopped. Despite our initial protest, the CCC refused/neglected to finish the drainage construction from Oduke up to Onitsha/Owerri Road. The result is enormously catastrophic.
“Water collected from the drainages now terminate at Oduke layout junction and in the absence of any drainage and will spill out to the Oduke environment and floods the entire neighborhood. “There is no drainage network in Oduke.
“We now suffer the painful effects of flooding arising from the movement of water in extreme large volumes from Obosi and Ezeiweka. This has caused lots of mishaps. Anytime it rains heavily, flooding will persist in Oduke for more than 10 hours or even days after the rain had stopped.
“On August 31, 2013, a heavy rain fell and almost 20 houses lost their fences. Property worth over N30 million were lost by the residents. One 39-year-old Sunday Omenyi was killed when a wall-fence pulled down by the flood collapsed on him.
“Families are rendered homeless. Others are having difficult times to rehabilitate. We will be most grateful if this SOS is given the most urgent attention it deserves. Our people are becoming restive and threatening to take their fate into their hands by blocking the drainage at Oduke junction.
“If done, this will result on over flooding of Ezeiweka and Obosi with even more terrifying consequences. This will lead to destruction of the already constructed roads. We believe government will respond positively to this letter.”
When contacted the, Commissioner for Works, Callistus Ilozumba, said government did not abandon them. He acknowledged that their complaint was received while efforts were made through the directive of former governor Obi to address the problems, but there was a hitch along the line.
He said the death of Mr Willie Melifonwu, consultant of the road project and the contact between the ministry and the people, stalled the project. He promised to take the problem up again in the Obiano administration.
Contacted, community and public relations officer of CCC, Prince Patrick Morgan, said he was not aware of the people’s plight in the past. While sharing in their pains, he advised that the Oduke residents should intensify efforts to get a positive feedback from the Ministry of Works who would in turn contact CCC if the need arises.