There are strong indications that the Cross River State government has concluded arrangements to evacuate the residents of Edim Otop community in Calabar Municipal following the death of eight persons caused by a mudslide.
On Wednesday, eight members of Amos Akaniyene family were submerged in a mudslide with three critically injured following a heavy downpour
Those killed instantly included the pregnant wife of Mr Amos Akaniyene, Gloria, his mother-in-law, Mrs. Ikwor Edet Etim, his sons, David Akaniyene, Emen Akaniyene and his daughter, Ekaete Akaniyene, sister-in-law, Asuquo and the unborn twin babies.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Sandi Onor, who dropped the hint in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun in Calabar, said it has become imperative to forcefully evacuate residents of Edim Otop to another place to enable government to undertake construction work at the gully.
Onor stated that even before now, relevant government agencies have appealed to them to pack out of the community because it is not only inhabitable but a water channel that is prone to flooding.
He insisted that the government would stop at nothing to ensure that those leaving in the erosion-prone axis are forced out, adding that several efforts have been made in the past to relocate them to no avail.
He said: “What happened with regard to the death of eight family members due to mudslide occasioned by heavy downpour was enough to force everybody leaving there out. We must evacuate them this time without wasting time to avert another tragedy.
“I can tell you that government is totally committed to developing all the gully sites and Edim Otop is one of them. We have told the landlord communities in the past to stop selling out lands recklessly to people in those riverine areas. But all appeals fell on deaf ear until now.
“We are already collaborating with World Bank on the reconstruction of these gullies and we have paid our counterpart funding. We have also advertised and World Bank has promised to use one the most of best modern technologies during construction process.”
Appealing to the residents and the community to give the government some time, the commissioner disclosed that there are plans to pay compensation to the residents so that they can find an alternative accommodation. Also appealing to the residents to vacate immediately, the state Director of Information, Mr. David Akate, said: “We have been talking to the community members for years now to vacate there because it is not only a dangerous but a flood-prone area but they refused.”
Akate advised the residents to “please vacate the place to avoid further disaster.”
Also supporting government plans to forcefully evacuate the community, an Edim Otop youth leader, Mr. Emmanuel Akpan Edimoore, told Saturday Sun that it is only through force that people can leave the place, adding that so many lives have been lost there.