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2,000 Lives, Property Under Threat Of Erosion In Bomadi •Woman, Baby Swept Into River Four Years Ago
Bomadi town and some communities in Bomadi Local Government Area of Delta State are currently under serious threat of ravaging gully erosion and flood.
Over 200,000 Nigerians living in the area are prone to hazards of the ecological challenge.
This is a local government that has 12 communities and all these communities serve Nigeria’s oil industry in various ways. First, all Bomadi communities fall under the Federal Government’s classification as Auxiliary Oil Prospecting Communities. By this classification, it means the communities stand in waiting for oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
Secondly, the communities, namely: Okoloba, Ogbeinama, Kpakiama, Syama, Akugbene, Ogodobiri, Ezebri, Ekamtagbene, Kalafiogbene, Elohin city and Ogriagbene, which are under Bomadi Local Government Area with headquarters at Bomadi, have various sizes of petroleum pipelines as well as gas pipes passing through each of them.
Thirdly, the communities, which have notable sons and daughters such as Senator James Manager, Honourable Nicholas Mutu and Honourable Kenneth O. Preyor both at federal and state levels, are peaceful and law-abiding people.
Reports by scientists and environmentalists, who had carried out various ecological studies in the area, have warned against the impending danger, occasioned by flood and erosion activities on a yearly basis.
The reports carried out by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), under its Environment Impact Assessment Project, led to the inclusion of Bomadi LGA as a benefitting community under the Ecological Fund budget.
However, it is regrettable that up till now, none of the authorities responsible for disaster prevention or management, set up by the Federal Government, has visited any part of Bomadi local government.
Bomadi, despite being headquarters of the local government, suffers so much in the cruel hands of erosion. Though the name ‘Bomadi,’ an adulterated form of ‘Bomoundi,’ literally means “look at the sand bank.”
Ironically, not everywhere in the town enjoys the sand, which repels erosion, particularly, the local government secretariat, the Government Residential Area (GRA), the Bomadi General Hospital and the defunct Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) secretariat, even as far as Tuomo.
The General Hospital, Bomadi, would be the most pitiable “victim’’ of this daily erosion in Bomadi town, if nothing is quickly done about it. Like a desperate vampire, the erosion has claimed well over 400 metres of land with less than five metres left before the fence of the hospital. There is a great possibility of the General Hospital standing the risk of being washed away anytime. This would mean the people would be left without a hospital to attend to their health needs.
Unless urgent steps are taken, a looming danger is also hanging over the GRA and the local government council secretariat buildings. Their proximity to the shores is better witnessed. The council’s lodge is only 25 metres away from the river bank. Even the tarred road, which hitherto linked Bomadi and Oboro, has eroded very fast and far into the Forcados River.
The people of the riverine communities are awaiting the action of the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) to be proactive in saving the lives of the rural dwellers.
Erosion has become a source of great concern and a major threat to dwellers near the shores in Bomadi Local Government Area. During the rainy season, the flood tides and the water level rise. The concerns and heartbeats of settlers in the local government shift from the daily desire to put food on their tables, to the fear of being swept away by flood. At this time, nothing seems important to them as taking up drastic measures capable of putting a final stop to this perennial erosion. All they can see now is imminent danger.
Over the years, the effect of this environmental plague had been mildly felt, probably because they felt the impact of the erosion has not reached a dangerous level, as there was reasonable gulf between houses and the eroding lands. The story, however, has changed in the last six years. Negative impacts of these erosions have become so real that many people have been rendered homeless, many have lost their shops, many lives have been lost, pavements, and roads have given in.
In 2009, Ogbeinama community experienced the most devastating disaster, when half of the primary school field gave in to the erosion. Till today, the pupils of the primary school are in perpetual fear, because the distance from the waterfront to the classrooms is less than 30 metres. The compound of a serving Senator, Chief James Manager, is also being threatened by erosion. Even the walkway that was in Okoloba community had given way to the erosion, the link road to Ogodobiri community is gone.
Most of the towns in Bomadi Local Government Area have continued to suffer from the corrosive forces of seasonal erosion over the years. Another community under danger of erosion in the local government is Kpakiama Town - the gateway to the area in the last six years. The extent of damage done to the inhabitants cannot be narrated without provoking the slightest pity. Erosion in Kpakiama has destroyed lives and properties worth millions of naira.
About four years ago, a stall close to the river bank on River Forcados, which was housing a woman and her new born baby who were fast asleep, was swept into the river at midnight. It was a miracle that the woman was saved but the baby got drowned.
Even the major road linking the various quarters in the town has been affected by erosion. Car owners can no longer drive to their houses. Getting businesses done at set time is also near impossible because of bad roads.
Kpakiama and Bomadi as well as other neighbouring towns such as Syama, Ogbeinama, Okoloba, Ogodobri and Ezebri have thus become endangered species and deserve foreshore walls to save them from erosion.
The Federal Ministry of Environment and its agencies, the Delta State government as well as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should, as a matter of urgency, come to the timely rescue of these communities.
Additional reports by Harrison Akamule.Share