By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
Leaders of Ogbaru town in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have raised the alarm over the level of erosion threatening the area.
They pointed fingers at the heavy dredging machines used by Julius Berger construction company working on the second Niger Bridge.
The leaders lamented that both residential and public buildings in 9 communities within the area have been affected by the rising erosion menace causes by the dredging.
Addressing journalists on Monday at Okoti Odekpe, the community Spokesperson, Chief Nwachukwu Ossai, said that no fewer than 160 buildings have been affected adding that 9 communities on the coastal line of River Niger are currently experiencing serious erosion menace.
He said, “Due to the deployment of heavy dredging machine for the excavation of sand from the River Niger, the river is now overflowing its bank thereby pulling down private and public buildings.
“Our concern is that a multi-national company like Julius Berger should be aware that some embankments must be constructed to check obvious spill over of water after the dredging, but they ignored that because the black man’s life does not matter to them.”
On his part, another community leader, Emma Mbieli, alleged that officials of the company in alliance with some senior officials of Federal Ministry of Works in the state as well aa B and Q Dredging firm were involved in the sales of sand excavated from the river.
He regretted that some residents were already recording erosion ocassioned by excessive dredging activities, even when it was not yet time for perennial flooding usually recorded in the area.
Contributing, the duo of Chief Peter Okala and Mr Sylvester Nsofor urged the Federal and Anambra Governments to urgently look into the plights of the people of Ogbaru before the problem become a serious disaster.
Okala said, “Ogbaru people are happy with President Muhamadu Buhari’s effort at the construction of the second Niger bridge, but poor treatments meted to the community have now turned to heartbreak to residents”.
In his reaction, the Federal Controller of Works, Federal Ministry of Works, Anambra State, Mr Ajani Adeyemo explained that the sand being dredged from the river by B and Q Dredging, a sub-contractor engaged by Julius Berger was for the filling of the access road of the new bridge.
“Although I can’t speak for Julius Berger or B and Q Dredging on the sales of sand for private gains, the community leaders are yet to inform them of any existing embankment collapse.
Efforts to reach Julius Berger Project Director, Mr Fredrich Wieser on phone for his reaction at the time of filing this report failed.