Erosion has cut off access to the people of Ntiat community in Itu, and is threatening residents of Afia Nsit village/Idung Iniang community and Idua community in Eket Local Government Areas, Akwa Ibom State.
Ntiat road, which is the only access road in and out of the community, also leads to the Comprehensive Secondary School Ntiat, Mary Slessor General Hospital, Essien Ukpabio Theological College, and Itu Modern Market among other key institutions in the council area.
The over 100,000 indigenes have expressed fear over the collapse of the road allegedly abandoned by the state government adding that many people have lost their lives in the ravine that has now cut off a large chunk of the road.
According to Eteidung Bassey Ekanem, Village Head of Ntiat community, erosion, caused by heavy rainfall since 2016, was responsible for the bad situation.
Speaking to our correspondent in his palace, Eteidung Ekanem said the worsening situation of the road forced the Council of Chiefs in the community to invite the then Chairman of Itu Local Government Area, Mr Etetim Onuk and the Commissioner for Environment, Dr Iniobong Essien to inspect the road in 2017.
“The road linking T-Junction has completely collapsed with a ravine on both sides. It started five years ago.
“We invited the Chairman of Itu Local Government Area, Barr. Etetim Onuk, who appealed to the former Commissioner of Environment, Hon. Dr Iniobong Essien, to come and inspect the road. He came and promised that he will do something about it, and this is 2020, the place is a death trap. Several lives have been claimed and nothing is done about the place.
“I’m afraid of the way it’s raining this season, I doubt if the road will last till the end of this year.
This is the only road that leads to Comprehensive Secondary School, Ntiat. How will the students manage to go to school on resumption when the lockdown order is lifted?
“It also leads to Itu Modern Market, where business men and women bring foodstuff into the state because of its closeness to Cross River and Abia states.
“The damaged road also leads to Mary Slessor General Hospital and Essien Ukpabio Theological College. So, if the road is completely abandoned, I don’t know how people will manage to go about their daily businesses.
“On this note, I appeal to our dear governor to please intervene and repair the road for the good of our community and the entire state,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Itu Market, Pastor Edo Ekpenyong lamented that about seven people have died in the last two months on the road.
He said Ntiat erosion site was now a death trap especially for people who were not familiar with the current situation.
He added that due to the condition of the road, the village youths decided to act as road marshals at both ends, between 6am and 11pm, to ensure that only one vehicle passes the damaged at a time, to avoid accidents, and check any incidence of robbery at night.
“A month ago, we lost two motorcyclists. Two weeks ago, three additional lives were claimed when a vehicle fell into the trap and just last week we lost another two lives in a tricycle.
“The road is very dangerous, we pray that God should touch the heart of our leaders both at the state and federal levels to come to our rescue,” he said.
A victim of an armed robbery attack on the road, Eka Eno, told our correspondent that she has been robbed twice on the damaged road when their vehicle broke down.
“I can’t say the amount of money I lost along with my goods. I managed to escape when another vehicle came and the thieves ran away thinking it was the police. I thank God for the village youths who scared the robbers away,’’ she said.
Similarly, the people of Afia Nsit village/Idung Iniang community and Idua community are afraid that the culvert linking the villages will collapse due to heavy rainfall.
The rain that fell on Friday, June 19 and Monday, June 22, 2020 is said to be seriously threatening the culvert and is already eating into the road.
The community leader of Afia Nsit village/Idung Iniang, Nsikak Etebia is also afraid that houses and churches around the area would not survive the rains and has, therefore, sought the intervention of the government before irreversible damages are done.
He said, “We have so many houses and churches around the environment that suffer from flooding based on this. We want to use this medium to call on the state government to please come to our rescue. Government should please act before we experience more casualties,”
Recently, the Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ekong Sampson, directed persons residing at serious erosion and flood prone locations in the state to vacate to safer areas.
The Chairman of Eket Local Government Area, Mr Frank Archibong, told Niger Delta Trust that the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has assessed the situation.
“The office of the Deputy Governor was there to assess the situation. You can be rest assured that the situation is under control,” he said.