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Feature: Ekwueme Gully Threat: Not yet Uhuru despite NEWMAP intervention

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Feature: Ekwueme Gully threat: Not yet Uhuru despite NEWMAP intervention

By Chimezie Anaso, Nigeria News Agency

The Ekwueme Square area in Awka, Anambra, is a strategic area due to concentration of public buildings and institutions that are sited around the vicinity which is at the heart of the capital city.

A drive into the area from the Enugu-Onitsha expressway leads one to the three arms zone where you have the moribund Anambra Government House project, Anambra House of Assembly and the State High Court.

Other public buildings around the vicinity are the magnificent Federal High Court with Judges quarters, Federal Secretariat still under construction, the Ekwueme Square itself, the massive Anambra Secretariat not far away as well as a three-star hotel and private houses.

This area which has a high number of strategic public buildings and infrastructure has been hit by massive gully erosion, popularly known as the “Ekwueme Gully Erosion” that requires huge resources to reverse the trend.

The erosion which assumed a scary dimension about three years ago and threatened to wash way the Federal High Court and its appurtenances, including the judges’ quarters roads leading to it.

Already, the perimeter fence, the generator house and the access road to the court have caved into the deep, while power supply to the court was cut off for a long time because the transformer serving the facility had to be moved away to save it from the menacing gully.

On the economic aspect, the erosion has destroyed the large expanse of land in the area which some families were using to farm as a means of subsistence, thus forcing them to seek alternative means of survival.

Describing the extent of damage and danger posed by the gully erosion, Mrs Blessing Egbuche, a staff of the Federal High Court, said they no longer feel safe working in the court.

Egbuche said electricity and water supplies were no longer available as they could no longer use the borehole and the transformer had been dismantled.

“There is no light in the complex, maybe there is electricity supply but our transformer has been disconnected because erosion was swallowing it and we had to call Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to come and remove it.

“The borehole has collapsed, our 20,000 capacity water tank is there but we have emptied it to prevent it from going down into the gully soon, the building is at the risk of collapse,’’ she said.

Mr Emeka Achebe, Head of Communications, Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in Anambra, while speaking on the severity of the danger in the area, said the World Bank Technical Team had visited the site and appreciated the need to urgently save the situation.

Achebe said a special intervention plan known as “Gully Rapid Action and Slope Stabilisation (GRASS)” has been approved, adding that this will control damage to houses and critical infrastructure in the area.

 

 

True to his assurances, respite, however, came to the area when (NEWMAP) commenced intervention works to rescue the endangered property in the area about October 2018.

The intervention work involved massive reclamation of the gully area through importation of laterite and compaction with careful channelisation of storm water in a number of drains.

At the moment, the Federal High Court seems to be relatively safe as the approaching gully had been pushed back considerably with storm water flow well diverted away from it.

An Engineer in the company handling the project, IDC Construction Ltd who wished to be identified simply as Zubi, had told journalists earlier this year that the project had reached 80 per cent completion from what was in their design.

Zubi, however, said danger was not fully averted until the entire control work is completed as the topography of the site was so precarious that if not properly managed, erosion from the coming rainy season might wash off all that had been achieved.

According to Zubi, who is also the site manager of the project when it rains, this place is like river because this is about the lowest points in Awka, so, runoff water from all over Awka converge here, that is why the erosion here is so much.

“If it rains for 30 minutes, water will run here for three hours, very speedily and strongly. When the rainy season comes it will take all these buildings, they are not saved yet,” he said.

A staff of the Federal High Court who wished not to be name expressed delight that the complex had been saved from the imminent disaster and that they could now work with some form of comfort.

The source, however, expressed worries that there had been no activity on the site since May, fearing that the company handling the project might have vacated the site.

But a Correspondent of the Nigeria News Agency who visited the site, discovered that some caterpillar were still on site but no men around to move them, confirming the inactivity at the site.

The recent rains have created new erosion challenges in the area. Already the danger has shifted to the Federal Secretariat still under construction and it requires serious rescue.

The threatening gully had swept away the drainage, broken down parts of the perimeter fencing and advancing resolutely towards the gigantic building while a number of electric poles have been pulled down.

Again, the abrupt termination of the newly constructed drains which is where the entire storm water in the area is collected, may be the beginning of a new challenge as predicted by Zubi.

We now have what could be best described as a “man made waterfall” occasioned by flood fury from high suspension drain which is fast deepening and widening the gully path to Imo-Awka stream, the natural waterway where it should have been terminated.

 

Mr Osita Obi, a Civil Right Activist, who spoke to NAN on the Ekwueme Gully Erosion menace said the sustainability of what had been achieved could not be guaranteed if conclusive work was not done on the site.

He said the beautifully designed drain could be destroyed in the event of more torrential rainfall, adding that the huge scarce resources so far spent on the project might be another “water down the drain”.

He called on Anambra Government and NEWMAP to do the much they could and urgently to take the control works to Imo-Awka River and save the massive public and private property as well as livelihood of the people in the area.

Mr Jude Offia, a social commentator, said it was still a surprise to him that the area which was still normal about three to four years ago was now an erosion ravaged area with neither motorists nor pedestrians able to move freely.

Offia who said he used to run around the area whenever he went for walkout blamed it on negligence on the part of the ministry in charge of environment which could have checked it at budding stage.

He wondered what the effort of the ministry was in managing the numerous erosion challenges in Anambra in spite of what NEWMAP was doing.

“It is now a big problem and a big project because those in charge refused to act in the early stage. Three years ago or so, I move around all this area each time I come to Ekwueme Square to walkout,” he said.

Achebe said the tenure for the initial contract was 12 months and attributed the slowdown on control works at the site to the rainy season.

He said NEWMAP appreciated the dangers which was why GRASS was activated, assuring that the contractor would return as soon as the weather was conducive for civil works to continue.

He said additional approval had been obtained for amended design that would address the new challenges. (NANFeatures).

Environment

Harnessing young peoples potential to mitigate climate action in Nigeria

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Harnessing young peoples’ potential to mitigate climate action in Nigeria

By Dianabasi Effiong, Nigeria News Agency

The Federal Ministry of Environment, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Aug. 15 hosted a two-day Regional Youth Climate Incubation Hub for select youths in Nigeria’s South-South Zone.

The forum was the first in a programme designed by organisers to cover six zones and further strengthen Nigeria’s position as a member country of the United Nations’ Youth Engagement and Public Mobilisation track at the Climate Action Summit.

The summit is slated for Sept. 23 in New York for participants to offer ideas on ways to stop the increase in emissions by 2020 and “dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century’’, among others.

The Port Harcourt event, facilitated by Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), an environmental think-tank organisation, had participants drawn from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers States.

A trending document on UN Climate Action Summit 2019 from the global organisation stated that Global emissions had reached record levels.

It stated: “The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990.

“Sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and we are starting to see the life-threatening impact of climate change on health, through air pollution, heat waves and risks to food security.

“The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow.

“But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.

“The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and even, as asked by the latest science, to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.’’

“Thankfully, we have the Paris Agreement – a visionary, viable, forward-looking policy framework that sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact.

It also stated, sadly, that “the agreement itself is meaningless without ambitious action’’.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, expects from world leaders at the proposed summit, innovative, concrete and realistic plans “to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050’’.

In reaction to such expectations, Mr Nnimmo Bassey, an Environmental Justice Advocate and Director of HOMEF, underscored the importance of the Youth Round table on Climate Action to unlock youth innovation in Nigeria’s climate action.

He also told participants at the forum, which included about 70 young people, that they were capable of brightest ideas for solving problems of climate change in Nigeria.

According to him, the greatest action government can take on gas flaring is to stop it and not to reduce it.

“If government can stop gas flaring by the year 2020 it will be a great achievement for the people to be released from the embarrassment on our environmental health and our children’s health,” Bassey said.

He also said that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be put in place to penalise anybody or company that defaulted on gas flaring in Nigeria.

He called on government to take seriously, the ideas of youths on how to tackle climate change and global warming because it encapsulated their future and that of their children.

Also, Mr Sheyifumi Adebosey, a youth activist, told the forum that young people were the second most important group in addressing climate change because it is about their future.

Adebosey, who said that youth action on climate change to protect our environment had national value, also renewed the call for urgency in tackling the global climate change.

Similarly, Miss Anumenechi Stephanie, the Digital Communication Head of International Climate Change Development Initiative Africa (ICCDI), called for government’s collaboration with companies and Non-Governmental Organisations to stop gas flaring.

She said that such collaboration should ensure that gas is used for economic growth nstead of being flared.

Expectedly, the Federal Ministry of Environment, through its Department of Climate Change, charged participants on the imperatives of the event, adding that climate and climate change have become issues of global concern particularly in Third World countries like Nigeria.

Sa’adatu Gambo, a Senior Scientific Officer at the Department of Climate Change, who represented the Federal Ministry of Environment, said that the Department of Climate Change remained Nigeria’s focal point for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The expectation of the organisers were that “there will be an acceleration of key improvement on climate change’’ at the end of the event.

They also expected what they called “creative ideas that are specific, measurable, achievable, bankable, realistic and time bound, which will be harnessed and built from concept stage to actual implementation’’.

Participants also observed that issues of climate change called for emergency in Nigeria and that proactive measures should be taken by the Nigerian government to tackle it.

They also observed that the non-implementation of extant environmental laws and policies continually serve as major setback in the fight for a safe climate in Nigeria

The need to create more awareness among Nigerians, financial investment and transfer of technology to build human capacity and groom basic ideas to mitigate climate crises in Nigeria were also restated by participants at the Port Harcourt event.

The young people engaged in series of brain storming and Focused Group Discussion (FGD) where innovative ideas were proffered.

These included the need for that Climate Change Desk Officers at both Federal and State ministries in Nigeria who should ensure that participants in the Youth Climate Hub were further engaged on climate change issues.

They also recommended that biogas should be generated from household biodegradable waste and bio-digester while effort should be made on recycling in regards to plastic bottle collection and reuse and also waste segregation and separation.

The group as called for the establishment of environmental clubs and advocacy for target groups and also creating certain social documentaries on climate change in local dialects.

According to the “Youth Climate Incubation Hub’’, `Apps should be available to map vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas to climate change impact’ and solar panels should be made more affordable for the people.

The young people also called for Mangrove reclamation and tree planting, especially indigenous species and economic crops.

They said: “There is need for government at all levels to stop paying lip service and amplify action on climate change policy  implementations.

“There should be a massive advocacy campaigns on the impact of climate change; the inclusion of climate change education in our curriculum at the various levels of learning in Nigeria.’’

According to the group, youths voices should be further amplified and their creative ideas on climate change harnessed.

They also stressed the need to strengthen existing structure to integrate women and marginalised groups’ participation in all levels in climate action in Nigeria. (NANFeatures)

 

 

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Environment

Gov.Sule launches flood sensitisation campaign, cautions against erecting structures on water ways

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By Awayi Kuje

Launching

Garaku(Nasarawa State), Aug.23,2019 Gov.Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has launched a flood awareness campaign with a call on residents of the state to avoid erecting structures along drains and water ways so as to avoid flooding.

Sule made the call on Friday in Garaku,Kokona Local Government Area while launching a sensitisation, Education and Awareness Campaign on Disaster Risk Management of the 2019 seasonal rainfall prediction on impending flood in the state .

He said flood had negative effects on societal development, hence the need for the people of the state to take precautionary measures against it in their own interest and for the overall development of the state.

“Let me appeal to the good people of Nasarawa State, particularly those that are living in areas that are prone to floods to take precautionary measures.

“We must as well educate ourselves on proper ways of refuse disposal, avoid erection of structures along drains and water ways which will block free passage of running water.

“It will be recalled that the Federal Ministry of Environment and Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) in collaboration with Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) have earlier issued warning of flooding particularly in 2019.

“They have predicted that this year’s rainy season will threaten communities living along river banks which will be affected by flood.

“It is on this note that the government considered it imperative to embark on mass sensitisation and awareness campaign to local government areas and flash points that are prone to flood disaster, in the state,”he said

The governor disclosed that the State Government was collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Environment in tackling environmental degradation in the state for the overall development of the country.

He directed the state Emergency Management Agency (NASEMA) to intensify campaign in sensitising and educating communities on the dangers of flooding to societal development.

He restated his commitment to key into good policies and programmes that would have direct bearing on the lives of the people of the state.

The Executive Secretary, state Emergency Management Agency (NASEMA), Mr Zachariah Allumaga ,urged the people of the state to avoid indiscriminate dumping of refuse on waters ways.

Allumaga said his called was based on NIMET prediction of impending flood in some Local government areas and flash points in the state.

In his vote of thanks, the Abaga Toni of Toni Chiefdom,Mr Lawrence Sylvester Ayih, commended the governor for launching the awareness campaign considering the negative effects of flooding on the society.

Mr Saidu Kurki, the Executive Chairman of Kokona Local Government Area of the state, thanked the governor for his developmental efforts toward improving the standard of living of the people.

“The event of today, no doubt is yet another manifestation that demonstrate your total commitment and concern toward the improvement of the living standard of our people.

“We as a council, therefore are indeed overwhelmed because the gesture will go a long way in saving lives and property of our people in the area and the state,”he said.

Edited by Saidu Adamu and Abdullahi Yusuf

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Environment

Zaria water project: Kaduna govt. seeks refund of N24.4bn from FG

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Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has asked the Federal Government to refund N24.4 billion, representing 30 percent of the money spent by the state on Zaria water project.

According to the governor, the refund was in line with relevant laws that stipulated 30 percent refund to states for any capital project executed.

The governor’s demand was contained in a statement by his Senior Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adeleke, issued in Kaduna on Friday.

El-Rufai however commended the Federal Ministry of Finance for earlier approving a refund of N17.3 billion for the project, but said the actual sum was N24.4 billion based on the current exchange rate of naira to the dollar.

He therefore appealed to the Federal Government for timely release of the fund, promising that the amount would be ploughed back into the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project.

The governor further urged the Federal Government to construct the Itisi Dam to enable the state government execute the Greater Kaduna Water Project with ease.

According to him, the Greater Kaduna Water Supply Project, designed to expand water supply in the state capital, would cost 600 million dollars.

On the Zaria Water Supply and Expansion Project, the governor said N81.3 billion had been spent so far.

He said that the amount was expended on the project by the state government, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

El-Rufai explained that the state government funded the Water Treatment Plant at the cost of N24.6 billion and paid  N914.1 million for consultancy services.

“AfDB funded the rehabilitation and construction of water and sanitation facilities at the cost of 101 million dollars, which translates to N30.9 billion at the exchange rate of N306.50 to a dollar.

“While IsDB funded the construction of water facilities at the cost of 81 million dollars amounting to N24.8 billion.

“The amount injected by AfDB and IsDB was a loan that will be repaid by the state government,” he said.

The governor described the commissioning of Phase II of the Zaria Water Project as another milestone in reversing about three decades of water scarcity in the city.

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Environment

Only 300 elephants remain in Nigeria’s wildlife – Conservation Foundation

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The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says that only about 300 elephants remain in the wildlife in Nigeria.

Mr Oladapo Soneye, Head of Communication, NCF, said this in a statement made available to the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Ibadan.

Soneye said that the rapidly dwindling number of forest elephants in Nigeria had made it imperative for all stakeholders to scale up the protection of the world’s largest living land animal.

“Two subspecies of the African elephants with an estimated population of about 300 individuals are currently living in the wildlife in Nigeria.

“The population of forest elephants are in dire need of protection in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, while the NCF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have spearheaded the protection of elephants in the country, there is the need for collaborative support and public awareness to protect them from extinction.

“The increasing interests and supports from corporate institutions towards sustainable practices and actions have added to the expansion of conservation influence in Nigeria.

“Expectedly, these efforts did pay off with the near-zero mortality rate recorded for the elephants in recent times.

“Nevertheless, sustained actions are needed to halt the indiscriminate habitat destruction and human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) triggering unpredictable behaviour and movements of Nigeria’s elephants out of their known home ranges.

“Enhancing civic awareness and galvanising wide-ranging supports for the elephants is visibly the practical pathway to tow,” he said.

Soneye added that there were emerging facts that Nigeria’s elephants needed collaborative engagements to survive beyond this generation.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and ‘Wale Sadeeq

 

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Environment

Anambra SEMA adivises coastal communities on impending flooding

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The Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has expressed the fear that coastal areas of the state may experience severe flooding this year.

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Chief Paul Odenigbo, said this during an early warning sensitisation tour of Ayamelum and Awka North Local Government Areas of the state on Thursday.

Odenigbo, who was represented by Mr Emeka Obinwa, the Executive Assistant to Gov. Willie Obiano on SEMA and Media, said that meteorological experts listed Anambra coastal communities among the areas that would experience flooding in 2019.

He said that the tour was intended to avert possible loss of lives and valuables in the area.

He said that government had mapped out holding centres at Omor Health Centre, Ifite Ogwari Health Centre, Skills Acquisition Centre, Ifite Ogwari, Health Centre, Igbakwu and Health Centre Umueje in Ayamelum.

He also said that similar holding centres were sited at Agueke Primary School, Ugbenu, Central School, Ugbenu and Central School, Oba Ofemmili in Awka north.

The SEMA official told participants drawn from coastal communities to assemble their vital documents and relocate to the holding centres for safety once they noticed flooding.

He said that although the centres might not be the best, government set them up as proactive measures to ensure that residents were not caught unawares.

Chief Anthony Achebe, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Fire, Safety and Utilities, warned that flooding in the coastal areas would persist except the River Niger was dredged.

Achebe urged farmers to always seek information on weather from SEMA and other relevant agencies to avoid huge losses to flood.

Mr Anthony Nnaama and Chief Kenneth Onyeabor, the President-Generals of Umumbo and Omor communities, respectively, commemded SEMA for the visit.

Nnaama said that it would be appreciated if government would avail farmers with early information ahead of the planting season.

He said, “last year we were affected by flooding and this year our farm is already flooded.”

Other speakers at the event appealed to governments at all levels to find a lasting solution to recurrent flooding in Nigeria.

“We gathered that River Niger overflowing it’s bank is the cause of the problem, so let government find lasting solution to the phenomenon,” they said.

 

 

 

 

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