The earth roads in the communities were flooded, that residents now make use ferry and canoes to access their houses
• Govt shuts 10 illegal burrow pits in Benin
Tony Osauzo, Benin
Flood from the River Niger has hit seven communities in Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, submerging hundreds of houses and farmland.
The affected communities are Udaba, Ofukpo, Agbaburu, Osomegbe, Ukpeko, Ugochi and Anegbette.
This is coming barely one week after flood displaced over 2,000 people in six communities of Etsako East Local Government Area of the state.
The flood reportedly destroyed properties and crops worth several millions of naira, forcing farmers to resort to harvesting their crops such as cassava, yam, rice, maize, and groundnuts; prematurely.
“If we don’t harvest our crops now, as you can see, they will go bad and we will suffer, so, we decided to harvest our six-month-old cassava. You know, we don’t have any farm that is up to a year now because that of last year also destroyed our farms,” Mr. Nigeria Afomede, a farmer, told Daily Sun.
In his comments on the disaster, the village head of Udaba, Chief David Inetape, said over the years, government has not been favourable to them and wondered why they should be left unanswered at times like these.
Citing lack of road as a reason they could not move out of the place, he said the earth roads in the communities were flooded, and also disclosed that they now use ferry and canoes to access their houses.
Also, Mrs. Rose Akinabor, a farmer, said the flood has destroyed her life savings, and also explained that she took a loan to farm for this season; unaware that her labour would be in vain.
She called on government to assist them so that they could live normal life, again.
The residents gave reasons for their refusal to relocate to the Federal Government resettlement camp built by the flood committee in the last administration.
They said they have no access road to Oghomere where the camp is located and that there was no sign before the sudden rise in water level.
Notwithstanding, the Etsako Central council has cleaned up the federal government resettlement camp with the aim of re- locating the flood victims there.
Vice Chairman of the local government, Mr. Ambrose Kelvin Akhigbe, said the council is doing all it can to relocate the victims; after proper cleaning of the building and fumigation is completed today.
“We are going to the affected communities with speed boats to evacuate them. If anyone resists leaving the areas, we are going to persuade them to leave so that whatever the government and individuals will be bringing, they will benefit from it in the camp. As you can see, the borehole is set and the rooms are being tidied up, to ensure they are conducive. We shall also bring a very big generating set to ensure regular supply of light in the camp so that the displaced persons can feel at home”, he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has begun enforcement of the order on illegal burrows, by shutting operations of not less than 10 burrow pits in Benin City, the state capital.
The enforcement team was led by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment and Sustainability, Mr. Bright Emeo- dume and the ministry’s Director of Enforcement, Mr. Ero Isaac.
The affected burrow pits are located in Ofumwegbe after Iguogboe community as well as those in Iguoshodin community, among others.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainability, Dame Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku, the state government suspended operations on all burrow pits.
The order, which took effect from August 2, warned owners and operators of burrow pits, haulage operators, tipper drivers and other stakeholders that operation of a burrow pit without the appropriate approval is a criminal offence punishable by law.
Oni-Okpaku explained that the shutting down of burrow pit operations is to enable the state government “reevaluate and re-certify the sites.
“Towards this end, all such owners and operators are required to report to the ministry for recertification and subsequent inspection of their sites.”