From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Weeks after erosion wreak havoc in Obogoro community, Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa without positive response by the state government to address the plight of the people; a delegation of the community has met with the government.
The community’s delegation led by the paramount ruler, His Royal Highness, Monday Theophilus Igodo also has Chief Francis Igodo and other chiefs among the team.
At the meeting, the state government called on all relevant federal authorities and development partners to complement its efforts in tackling erosion and other ecological problems facing the state.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo who stated this, noted that as a coastal state that is entirely below sea level, almost all the communities are suffering the devastating effect of erosion by losing scarce land, and other valuable property to the menace every year.
He particularly empathized with the people of Obogoro, where half of the community including government primary school and several residential houses were said to have been washed away by erosion.
Describing the situation in Obogoro and other communities as pathetic, the deputy governor urged the federal government to deploy a fair share of the Ecological Fund to providing shoreline protection projects in the state, stressing that it is beyond the state government to bear the responsibility alone.
He, however, disclosed that the state government had, in fulfilment of its promise, already awarded the contract for a canalization project at Obogoro as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of erosion in the community.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who appealed for patience on the part of the people, noted that the contractor would be mobilized to site as soon as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) exercise was concluded.
While sympathizing with those who had and are about to lose their houses to the landslide in the community, he promised that the state government would take necessary steps to provide them temporary accommodation.
He seized the opportunity to warn the people of the state not to allow dredging activities in their communities without reports of feasibility studies and EIAs, adding that the worsening erosion challenge in Obogoro was being caused by indiscriminate sand mining along the Ekole River.
His words, “We are calling on our elder brother (Federal Government) to show responsibility by deploying the Ecological Fund to assist us in fighting against erosion and other natural disasters facing us as a state. Most of our communities are being washed away on a yearly basis.
“But apart from the natural forces behind the disaster, the problem (erosion) can also be blamed on the collective negligence and compromise of both the people and government regulatory bodies, like the Ministry of Environment.
“We failed to take necessary steps to stop the sand dredging. I can tell you, though without scientific evidence, that what is happening to Obogoro now may not be unconnected with sand dredging activities that have been taking place there on the Ekole river.”