An agrarian community in Abia State has cried out over the devastating blow that gully erosion is dealing to the area after every self-help effort has failed to stem the menace. The distress call rang out in the Iberenta community in Ikwuano Local Government of Abia with leaders calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to come to the rescue of the cocoa producing community.
It also produces palm produce, plantain, banana and timber in commercial quantities The Traditional Ruler of Oro-Ibere autonomous community, HRH Eze Stanley Ijenwa, voiced out the collective anxiety of the Iberenta people yesterday while speaking with journalists while conducting them round the erosion sites. “We’ve been facing this situation for many years now.
The community is so worried, so tired about the whole situation,” he lamented, adding that people are sitting on edge as the frightening gully erosion bares its fangs. The royal father said that with no help coming from the state government the community has been fighting the menace with self-help efforts but “when we think the problem is being tackled, the problem would be surging forward”.
He said that year in and year out, every development agenda of the community revolves around how to curtail the erosion menace to save their land from going under and the only internal road being cut in two places. Eze Ijenwa said that the erosion menace has stunted the development of the entire Iberenta as teachers and health workers shun the community.
According to him, any teacher or medical personnel posted to the community quickly runs back after reporting to duty because there is no access road. He said that it was high time the government declared the entire Iberenta as an environmental disaster zone and followed it up with appropriate measures to halt the menacing gully from wreaking further havoc in the community.
A filmmaker, Pascal Atuma, who is from the distraught community, disclosed that the Iberenta Development Union, home and a road have committed over N100 million to fighting the erosion. He said that Iberenta has suffered much neglect from governments at all levels over the years hence gully erosion has been having a field day and even the only road into the community has never been tarred. Atuma pointed out that the situation has gotten to a point where the community is no longer safe for its inhabitants as houses; a church and the only road are at the verge of being swallowed.
He said: “By now everybody should have been evacuated. This is a disaster waiting to happen,” he said, adding that urgent action was needed (unless) the government wants to hear that a village has collapsed into a massive gully”. The inhabitants of the rural community who spoke with journalists were all in utter helplessness over the condition of their community which appears to have been forgotten by the government. The immediate past woman leader of the community, Mrs. Gold Ihenso Uche, lent her voice in crying out to both Abia State and federal governments to remember the community. “We have been suffering for so long. We need help, we want help because houses are collapsing and farms are being washed away,” she said.