Except the Udom administration and public-spirited individuals and organisations rise to their rescue, Mrs Margaret Ubong Udofia and her children might join their hitherto bread winner in the world beyond.
Mrs Ubong, who lost her husband in 2019 and has been taking care of her six children with the proceeds from selling borehole water in front of her residence along Ikpa Road, at Afaha Oku in the state capital.
Afaha Oku shares boundaries with the Akwa Ibom State Government House and the Governor’s Office. And, the menacing erosion site that is turning the widow and her children into a humanitarian case, is less than two kilometres from the seat of the state government.
Unusual rains this year, ignited by the global environmental crisis known as climate change, washed away the widow’s water facility and her fence, leaving the compound with no exit.
The late Ubong Udofia’s family compound is directly opposite the ravaging ravine that has cut Ikpa Road bringing untold hardship to the residents of the area especially students of the Uyo City Polytechnic and the University of Uyo (UniUyo) living in the community.
A worried student who identified himself as Iboro Effiong, said”before now we used to pay N50 to Plaza (city centre) on Keke. Nowadays we pay 100 just to get across the ravine on the bike to get to this place before boarding Keke to UniUyo gate or Plaza.”
On her part the widow says the disaster has cut off her borehole into the ravine as well as the front of her house fence, adding, ‘’we used to manage a foot track to go out of the compound but this morning that footpath has been washed into the ravine as you can see. Our means of livelihood has gone and the abode is next, the government should help us.”
Caretaker Chairman Afaha Oku village, Chief Patrick Joseph Edet, says the community has suffered floodwater menace for too long, and lamented the neglect of the area by the government agencies, the
“We have been calling for government intervention and recently we heard of the award of a contract for remediation work. We are expecting to see the paperwork and make sure specific approval is adhered to. But nobody has contacted us, so we are still in the dark.”
Commissioner for Environment Solid Minerals, Charles Udoh, an indigene of Uyo, whose ministry oversees erosion control in the state is claiming that heavy rains prevented the Udom administration from quick intervention at the site.
“The contract was awarded and you heard it on the news. There is nothing anybody can do until the rain stops. Even if you have a contract awarded you can not go to the site under the rain because the bulk of the work is earthwork. Equipment can’t move into that terrain with water running.
“From day one I made it clear that the government was making an effort, we blocked the road, issued two public announcements on that issue and every point in time I kept carrying people along with what we were doing”, Udoh said.
In the meantime, the area might be completely cut off from other parts of the state capital. This is because the alternative route, Uyo village – Ntak Inyang Road near the proposed Science Park is already cut by another active ravine erosion.
Civil construction workers who tend to know better say nothing can be done until the rains subside. But, the residents are saying that some remedial action could be applied under the rain to curtail irreversible damages.