REPORTER: AMECHI ODO
A landslide that occurred at Ogwuma Hill in Edda has blocked of a section of a major road linking Afikpo in Ebonyi State and Ohafia in Abia State.
Although no life was lost, the incident affected the retaining wall of the Ogwuma Hill thereby closing the road to traffic.
Governor David Umahi had while visiting the site blamed the landslide on the activities of villagers residing at the edge of the hill and directed them to park out.
“This is Ogwuma, a section of the road after Iyere flyover. It has been totally blocked by landslide, and since 2004, we have been having very serious landslide here.
“Infact, I lost one of my Workers here about 2008 during the construction of a very heavy retaining wall which is what sustained this road from 2008 till few days ago.
“As you can see a lot of houses have sprang up there and so this had to disturb the ecosystem of this section of the hill and the effect is what you see.
“The road has been blocked and it is going to take quite a lot of efforts to even unblock the road, before thinking about how to reconstruct very long section of retaining wall.
“Nobody is passing through here just because of the activities of very few people. So, what my Government is going to do first and foremost is to ask everybody on that hill to leave.
“We have to take over the hill for people to continue to use this road, especially at this time we have solved the problem of the Iyere Bridge, which hitherto posed a serious hindrance on the road. We are going to look into how to clear the road,” Umahi said.
The Governor stated that their evacuation would enable the state government to deploy earth moving machines to the site within seven days and appealed to the Federal Government to assist in the reconstruction of the collapsed retaining wall.
“I am sure in the next seven days, we should be able to deploy about five caterpillars, dozers and trucks to first of all, clear the road for us to see whether the slide is such that it could be contained.
“Otherwise, we would have to block it until we are able to reconstruct the retaining wall. But there is no amount of retaining wall that can sustain this place if people still have a lot of activities up there.
“So we are going to make sure that we evacuate everybody there so that we can reconstruct it. We can inconvenience few people to advantage a lot of people.
“We will do what we can, and we will report to the Federal Government for help. It is up to me to report and I am sure that Mr. President when I report, will approve immediately.
“But it is up to the due process people to know that people are suffering and help because we have a lot of things in our hands. “Most of our road projects are Federal Government projects, but who is Federal Government?
“We are Federal Government, so we had to tackle them but we don’t really have money to tackle this. So, I am going to report to the Federal Government,” the Governor remarked.
Radio Nigeria observed that the site of the landslide was few metres away from a mega Flyover project site embarked upon by Ebonyi State Government to enable motorists navigate through the difficult terrain of both Ogwuma Hill and Inyere Valley.
EDITED BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU