By Chimezie Anaso
The people of Umudim Village in Ekwulummili town, Nnewi South Council Area have expressed concern over massive gully erosion which have swallowed up vast expanse of farmlands and homesteads.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who visited the endangered area reports that the gully erosion was moving at a high speed towards residential buildings since this year’s rains set in.
NAN also reports that gully which is several metres deep and wide had already cut of two neighboring villages of Umudim in Ekwulummiri and Umudim in Amichi Town both in Nnewi Council Area.
They said the gully was as a result of flashfloods from Igboukwu, Ikenga, Oraeri and parts of Amichi.
Speaking to our correspondent, an octogenarian, Mrs Victoria Ezeifedikwa said the erosion menace started in the 70s but expressed regrets that no assistance had come their way in spite of their numerous calls for help.
Ezeifedikwa said the vicious encroachment was being mitigated by the efforts of the people including herself who planted tress and other cash crop.
She however, expressed pains that the arable lands where they cultivated over the years had been washed away by persistent flood.
“This erosion started after the civil war and since then it had continued to get worse such that all the area is lost; it is a painful experience we have here, it is because of our self efforts that we are still standing here,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Cassidy Ikejiaku, a youth in the area said the erosion was fast making the son and daughters of Umudim in Ekwulummili strangers in their ancestral land as they could no longer build their homes for fear of possible immense collapse Ikejiaku said the people affected directly by the disaster had undertook a number of mitigating and palliative measures including afforestation and construction culvert to enhance access between the ends of the gully at the narrow end.
“I grew up to meet this erosion but at that time we used to cross it with just plank but our fear is the sudden massive expansion of the gully erosion, which has severed us from out neighbours.
“Our brothers w are supposed to build here cannot do so, they buy land in other communities, we cannot farm and the people on the other side cannot evacuate their produce to the market.
“We are in perpetual fear, that is why we are calling on the Anambra government and Nigerian Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to come to our help before our homes and livelihood are washed.
On his part, Chief Godfrey Okoye, Vice Chairman of Umudim Village and member of Ekwulummili Traditional Council cabinet said though there had been visit by some people to the sites but no effort had been made to reclaim the land.
Okoye said it was a huge challenge which no group of individuals or community could salvage
“The last time we had a visit by either state or federal governments was in 2018 but nothing was done, as you can see, it is getting worse.
“We need help, urgent help from government to help control the erosion and reclaim the land, he said.
On his part, Chief Clement Ezeifedikwa, the President General of Ekwulummiri described the town as being in the state of ecologically disaster emergency .
Ezeifedikwa there were about four of such gully sites of equal magnitude which were threatening to wash the entire twin away.
He said amohir road which linked Ekwulummiri to Osumenyi through Amichi had been destroyed among other valuables.
“NEWMAP visited the sites about three years ago and we thought the day of salvation was near but as we speak, we have not heard from them .
“All the what you see here is self help , these tress and bamboos were planted by us, so we are begging the state government to come and save our souls.
However, a project signboard was erected at the Amichi area of the gully erosion just before the starting point of the erosion where a catchment was concrete constructed to possibly reduce the force of flow.
Reacting, Dr Emma Okafor, Permanent Secretary at the Anambra Ministry of Environment said the state government was aware of the erosion menace.
Okafor said the community had made presentation to NEWMAP adding that the ministry was yet to hear from them.
He urged them to formally write to the ministry afresh to enable them make fresh assessment and necessary presentation to the governor.