Ahead of expected intense rainfall after the August break, the people of erosion-ravaged Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State are now living in trepidation of the likely effect of massive flood on the ancient town.
Expressing the fear of his people at a press conference, the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III appealed to the federal government and donor agencies to come to their rescue. The royal father regretted that previous intervention to address the gully erosion menace had not saved the communities.
Identifying some of the severely impacted areas like Igbe Road, Eke Girls School by second Polytechnic gate and parts of the community, the Otaru said years of abandonment and suspension of previous contracts awarded over 19 years ago by the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF have also compounded the problem.
According to the Otaru, “I was informed that the World Bank had released the sum of $20 million to tackle the Auchi and Queen Ede erosion sites in Edo State. The government of Edo State at the time was given a release of $9 million out of the $20 million earmarked for the project. In 1999, the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, under General Muhammadu Buhari had awarded a contract for 19 roads in Auchi to be tackled by a contractor, Dantata and Sawoe. But they could not mobilise to site before General Olusegun Obasanjo came and dissolved the PTF. Hence, the work could not be completed. Between that time and now, a lot has happened to the roads, and many ended up as gullies. But if the roads had been done as far back as 1999, we wouldn’t have had such huge gullies that later formed.”
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The royal father also recalled how in 2013, the World Bank visited again, did a survey and a N5.7 billion contract was awarded to arrest the gullies where the state government under the immediate past governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, contributed N400 million for the settlement of displaced persons, as well as payment for properties. “All these monies have been spent but nothing to show for it and the erosion continues to ravage the community. Many houses have gone, resulting to loss of lives and properties. I am appealing to government to come to our rescue because after August break, we are going to see a very devastating site as a result of the erosion. It is my duty to alert the public to this problem”.