Reporter : CHINAZO ILECHUKWU
The People of Ihim Community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State have cried out to the federal and state governments to urgently rescue them from a gully erosion that is devastating the area.
The traditional ruler of the community, Eze Oliver Ohanweh, while speaking with Radio Nigeria expressed the fear that thousands of people might be displaced from their ancestral homes if urgent steps were not taken to remedy the situation before the next rainy season sets in.
The gully erosion, which has existed for decades in Ihim community measures about 500 meters in length and 100 feet depth, affecting large expanse of land.
Aside claiming lives of pupils, who navigate the area to access a primary school located few meters away from the gully, the people have been separated from other twenty-seven villages that constitute the community.
The only primary school, which the people can boost of is at the verge of caving in while Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in the community may not be spared by the ravaging effects of the gully.
The paramount ruler of the community, Eze Oliver Ohanweh, recounted efforts made at getting the attention of the government at all levels but none had yielded the desired result.
An indigene of the community, Mr. Emmanuel Nwokoma, said the people produced cash crops, including palm oil, cassava and yam, in large quantity but could no longer make a living out of it as the gully had destroyed the only access road in the area.
A leader from a nearby village, Umukaku, Mr. Sylvester Iwueze, said due to the gully, they had to travel round a neighbouring Ehime Mbano Local Government area in order to access their kinsmen or their Eze’s palace.
Also, a woman leader, Mrs. Irene Ukanwah, said women and children were the worst hit as they could no longer farm or easily process their palm oil.
Meanwhile the Imo State Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Iyk Njoku, said the state was overwhelmed by over three hundred gully erosion sites in various communities, noting that Governor Hope Uzodimma was reaching out to the Federal Government and development agencies to salvage the situation.
He advised residents to stop unauthorized excavation of sand and ensured they planted trees to mitigate effects of erosion.