By Ngozi Onwukwe
Last weekend’s cleanup exercise in Abia State has come and gone, but the memories of what was seen and witnessed depending on where you did yours may live with some people forever.
To many residents of Aba, the fortnightly done cleanup exercise is nothing, but just two hours of staying at home, playing football on the streets or more usefully, cleaning of their compounds. That is not the same with the residents of Ahuruonye Street, Nwaogu Street, Mathew Avenue and Railway Avenue all in Aba South LGA of Abia State as to them; cleanup days are nightmares they can’t help from having.
These areas aren’t far from the main town of Aba. In fact, the four mentioned streets are just among the streets of which the Port Harcourt road in Aba is their main entrance. They are also not too far from the popular Eziukwu Market also known as Cemetery market in Aba.
With their proximity to the mentioned areas, one may wonder how and why such environment far more worse than IDP Camps seen only in movies still exist just right at the heart of the Enyimba City, the largest commercial centre in the Eastern Nigeria.
Their sufferings are tripartite in nature. They suffer from wrongly channelled and blocked drainage system. They suffer from the wickedness of the inhabitants of their neighbouring streets like: Onyike, Jaja, Emeh and Eastern Streets who disposes their sewage and all kinds of smelling and hazardous liquids down to them using an artificial drainage.
Thirdly, they suffer from hoodlums who have taken over the area to perpetrate all kinds of crimes because the area is now very difficult for police and other security agencies to access due to bad roads.
According to the residents of the area, most of the tenants and landlords have died as a result of flood. Most of them have abandoned their properties and ran away to remain alive.
They pay all required sanitation and environmental fees, but neither the presence of the state’s environmental protection agency nor environmental health officials felt there except when they want to paste notice for levies. Selling of cannabis and smoking of it in the areas is now done in reckless abandon as nobody dares to stop the dealers who are usually hostile to strange faces.
A resident of the area who gave his name as Oriaku said, “No group of people in Aba does more cleanup than us. We don’t just make our environment clean, but we enter bushes as well. When I say bushes, I mean abandoned buildings and impassable government roads that have been taken over by weed. We enter to clean weeds in age long government blocked drainages. We do all these things to see if we can get little peace when the rains come. While others do cleanup at home, we are wondering in the bushes creating pathways for storm water,”
According to Daniel, who is also a resident of the area “Most of us must have died if not for our own effort. We have to take this risk to enter dangerous places that have not been fumigated for many years with mere slippers. There are many risks involved here, but he who is rejected cannot reject himself. Nobody talks about our plight.”
Also speaking, Ikechukwu Onwunali said, “Our situation is beyond hoping that help will come, but I personally have no option than to keep listening to those who still believe because, ever since I was small, it has always been like this. Many have died and abandoned their properties here due to flood.
“As you can see, my brothers are here suffering to cleanup mess brought from other parts of Aba due to the fact that this drainage constructed some years ago was blocked just before Uratta road. The governments from military to civilian have abandoned us. We are dying here I must tell you the truth. This is the worst place to reside in Aba.
Talking about the cause of the problem, Nze Okechukwu said, “The drainage supposed to have two phases. One is permanently blocked and many persons who stay in the other areas enjoying good environment don’t know this. The second phase heading towards Uratta road was channeled to nowhere.
“Before when we had enough capable hands, we use to higher caterpillars to clean here and clear the weeds, but we don’t have enough money anymore as most of the residents who lost people here have ran away and leaving few incapable hands. Governments both in the past and present have never heard our cries.”
Expressing what he termed to be ‘silence from the concerned leaders’ one of the residents told Aba City Blog that the area which belonged to Abia South Senatorial Zone, Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency, Aba South Constituency in the State Assembly, Aba South LGA and a Ward in the Council of Aba South has never been visited by both past and present leaders representing them both in Abuja, Umuahia and Aba.
He called on the state government and other levels of government concerned to come to their aid before they become history.
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