Members of the Akwa Ibom state Environmental Protection and Wastes Management Agency ensuring the desilting of gutters in Uyo. Photo credit : Emma Akpabio.

By B. N Etim

The administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel is not giving up on tackling recurrence of flooding in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital and other parts of the state. Despite spending over N3billion on erosion control projects in different parts of the state, the Udom Emmanuel administration is undertaking regular desilting of drains and opening up new drainages to prevent flooding – hence lost of lives and properties – ahead of this year’s rainy season.

Due to its low topography and rapid development, Uyo has become susceptible to flooding each rainy season. When the rain begins, residents in flood-prone areas become anxious, knowing that every drop of rainwater may mean a loss of hard-earned property or a dear one as was the case when a little school boy was swept away along Nsikak Eduok avenue while returning from school.

Flood worst hit areas in the state capital include Nsikak Eduok (two lane) avenue, Akwa Efak street, Abak road by Port Harcourt street, Nkemba by Michael Abraham street, Abak road federal housing, IBB avenue and its environs, Shelter Afrique estate, Mbiabong Ayanya by timber market and others.

Akwa Ibom, preparing for hassles-free rainy season Ongoing desilting of gutters on Oron road, near Shelter Afrique, Uyo. Photo credit : Abasifreke Effiong.

As a responsive governor, Mr. Emmanuel awarded the 1.5km Nsikak Eduok – Tropicana underground erosion outfall, following public outcry over flooding in the area. The drainage has helped to evacuate the high velocity of flood that used to submerge parts of Nsikak Eduok, Oron road up to Ewet housing estate. The project reportedly cost N2billion and its service is worth every kobo spent.

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In 2017, the Akwa Ibom government entered a partnership with federal government through Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) and the World Bank in order to bring lasting solution to the perennial flooding of IBB avenue and its environs. The project is pegged at a whooping sum of N32 billion.

The scope of the IBB way erosion control project spans two local government areas and will relocate several houses on the project’s right of way. According to government officials, once the drainage is constructed, the number of catchment areas around Atan Offot, Atiku Abubakar, Abak road and the state secretariat complex would be completely de-flooded.

The IBB flood control system in Uyo will be a 7.5 km underground drain to an outfall at Ibesikpo-Asutan local government area. Reports have it that the bidding for the project, which followed a strict World Bank procurement guideline, has been completed. Recently, the state government paid its counterpart fund of N500 million, showing its commitment to solve a problem that has outlived successive administrations. Governor Udom Emmanuel has said that under his tenure no road would be constructed without drainages.

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In the mean time, the Udom Emmanuel administration has taken advantage of the dry season to carry on remedial construction work on the erosion-ravaged IBB avenue to reconnect that crucial route to the city center. Also, there is an ongoing construction of drainage for Shelter Afrique. This will help put a check to flooding there. The state government has adopted a policy of ensuring that every road built or rehabilitated within Uyo is accompanied with two well constructed drains linked to the nearest water outfall.

Experts in the Akwa Ibom state ministry of works had said that the flooding of some parts of Uyo, state capital was because most roads constructed before the Udom Emmanuel administration had no side drains to take out runoff; those with side drains were not connected to erosion outfalls located at various points across the city.

Aside the structural defects in road construction which have been identified as the major cause of flooding in the state capital, the exponential growth in urban population and unauthorized development on water channels and flood plains are contributory issues.
If you add these to incessant disposal of refuse into drains – an obnoxious habit formed by some residents in the metropolis – one will have a sense of why the city was under serious threat of flooding. This will also afford members of the public who have seen the ongoing aggressive desilting of gutters and drains in the state capital to show more appreciation to the state government.

At the peak of the rainy season last year, Governor Emmanuel went on an unscheduled inspection of drainage system round the metropolis to see things for himself. According to newspaper report, the governor accompanied by the secretary to government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, head of civil service, Elder Effiong Essien and other top appointees of the governor went round the city in the rain to assess the flood situation.

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One of the state-based newspapers reported that the governor toured areas including, IBB way, Idongesit Nkanga secretariat, Accountant General’s office Shelter Afrique estate, Mbiabong Ayanya by Timber market, erosion outfall system at Abak road by Nkemba street, which are known flood flashpoints in the state capital.

At the end of his tour, Governor Emmanuel gave a directive to relevant agencies of government to put remedial measures to reduce incidence of flooding in the affected areas.
Based on that directive, it is exciting to report that since January this year, workers of Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency, are on a holistic desilting of gutters, drainages and outfalls across the state capital. So far, the stretch of Abak road and adjoining streets have been completely desilted.

Currently the state environmental protect and wastes management agency is working ferociously to desilt all drains on Oron road and adjoining streets. With the speed and commitment demonstrated by the government in preparing for the 2020 rainy season, there is hope and great assurance that residents of Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital will have a hassles-free rainy season.