How ikoli River is swallowing buildings in yenagoa community~NEWSEXTRA - News Extra Online



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Thursday, 27 August 2020

How ikoli River is swallowing buildings in yenagoa community~NEWSEXTRA

A serious gully erosion has given River Ikoli, a tributary of the River Nun, an insatiable appetite for houses in the Ogbogoro community of Yenagoa, the state capital. Daily Trust reports from the community at the verge of being consumed by the river.

The Ikoli River has developed an appetite for consuming houses in Ogbogoro community of Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

The appetite is occasioned by gully erosion, which has seen the shores of the river washed away, causing houses along the riverbank to tumble into the water.

Ogbogoro community is situated around the heart of Yenagoa, the state capital, and is barely five minutes’ drive from the Creek Haven government house.

NYSC lodge, part of which has already caved into the river
Already, chiefs, women and youths of the community along the Ikoli River, one of the tributaries of the popular River Nun, are seeking government to come to their aid as their community is threatened by erosion.

The situation worsens during the rainy season, with several houses washed away already, including the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) lodge, part of which has collapsed into the river.

When Daily Trust visited the damaged lodge, handymen had rescued roofing sheets and woods from the building in a bid to save them for reuse.

Also, the community primary school, where children from within and outside the community acquire basic education, had been abandoned after essential parts of the facility, including the Headmaster’s Quarter, the football field and several classrooms, have been consumed by the Ikoli River erosion.

St. Paul Primary School, located in the neighbouring Famgbe community, which would have been an alternative, has already collapsed into the river.

Farmlands, too, with crops worth hundreds of thousands of naira, have been lost to the erosion as well.

This has affected the economic life of residents of the area, whose desperate letters of appeal to the government have so far yielded no result.

The paramount ruler of the community, HRH Monday Igodo said, “Right now, our primary school is seriously affected.

The riverbanks are eroding and eroding very fast.

The Corpers’ lodge that was very far from the bank of the river is now affected, forcing us to abandon it.

“Well, some of these environmental problems are natural while some are man-made.

“Ours is a natural occurrence.

“It has been there and we have written to many people, even to the Federal Government to come to our aid over this erosion issue but nothing has been done.

‘We are like a people who live in water but are forced to use our saliva to have our bath daily,” he said.

The ruler also complained about the lack of electricity in the community.

“We can see electricity from across the bridge where Government House is located but we have not had it in two years,” he said.

Considering that neighbouring communities, such as Akaba and Famgbe, have electricity makes the situation stick out.

A young boy whose family house is at the verge of being swallowed by the river fishing
“As a community, we have tried our best to help ourselves by repairing the transformer but it has failed to work.

“You know that anywhere there is light, businesses thrive. And where businesses thrive, there is peace,” he said.

Electricity is important to life in Ogbogoro.

Many young people are into the business of welding, hairdressing, sewing, electronic and electrical works, which require electricity.

A good number of them have now been forced out of business.

Many people blame the erosion over the state of the community.

One of them is the secretary of the community’s council of chiefs, Chief Unenadu Igwele.

“The erosion has been our problem for over two decades.

‘And it came gradually, starting from the Famgbe end.

‘It has eaten deep into Famgbe and driven that community into the swamps,” he said.

“And that is what is going to happen to us if nothing is done about the erosion.

“Unfortunately, in our own case, we don’t even have where to move to.

‘Everywhere is occupied now.”

Mrs Patience Amagbopere, the women leader of the community, said the erosion has changed the way the community looks.

“When I was newly married into this community, walking from the waterside to the schoolhouse was a long distance.

‘But now, you can see everything here, even the goal post is being shifted again and again towards the school as other parts of the facility have gone into the river,” she said.

“We want to appeal, as a people, people of Bayelsa and as a mother, I don’t have any other faith.

“I am begging, pleading and crying, that the state government, even the Federal Government, should look into our plight.

“After this time, our children would not be able to attend school here because we are afraid that most of them don’t know how to swim.”

Her worry is that children walking down the eroded paths might fall into the river and drown.

It is a legitimate concern with the erosion quickly degrading the soil and causing chunks of the community to fall into the river.

“Aside from this, we have also lost large parts of our farmland to the erosion.

“As you know, our major means of livelihood, as a people, are farming and fishing.

“Losing our homes to the erosion is traumatizing, talk more of losing our means of livelihood.

‘That would mean the extinction of Ogbogoro people,” she said.

Comrade Inisom Amabopre, the youth secretary of the community is worried his father’s house might be lost to the erosion.

“The situation I find myself in is pathetic,” he said.

“The erosion is affecting us badly.

“The first house built by my father was washed into the river by the erosion a few years back.

“As you can see, the new one my father built to shelter our heads is at the edge of the river bank and would soon be washed away in a matter of months.”

He too pleaded with the government to intervene and rescue their community from the hungry river and the erosion.

“The flood will soon come,” he said ominously.

“When you return to our community, you will certainly not see many houses you are seeing today.

“They would be washed away by erosion if nothing is done urgently.”

Efforts to reach officials of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment were unsuccessful.

Some staff at the ministry told Daily Trust that only the commissioner could make a statement on the issue.

Unfortunately, Governor Douye Diri is yet to deploy commissioners to various ministries in the state.

For now, the desperate people of Ogbogoro are leaving dangerously on the edge of a river with a growing appetite for houses.

(C)Daily trust

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