Residents of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State are counting their losses after a rainstorm wreaked havoc in the area last week. TONY ANICHEBE reports from Uyo
Rainstorm has destroyed properties in four communities in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Properties destroyed include, roof of the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government legislative building; network mast and fence at the council secretariat, and about 40 stalls, shops and a borehole at Nung Udoe main market.
Also destroyed were shades at Nung Udoe timber market, electrical poles on Okpob street, Nung Udoe; three classroom blocks at Brotherhood Secondary School, Ikot Ide Akpakpan; private residences in Nung Udoe and Ikot Akpa Etok, Ikot Ide Akpakpan, and mast belonging to Nung Udoe branch of Ecobank.
Two people were injured by falling shades in the market when the raging storm swept through an early evening last week, an eye witness said. Chairman, traders association in Ibesikpo Asutan, Mr Jude Edet, said that 75 traders were dislodged by the disaster.
“We have lost so much to Wednesday’s rain. By our inventory, 75 shops were destroyed. If we want to quantify our loss, it is in millions”. Edet said the incident had caused the affected traders to take their wares to the roadside during the market day.
He said the traders were willing to pay if government constructs a modern market facility for them and appealed to the government to provide aid to the affected traders. The Divisional Crime Officer in the local government, Dorothy Umoh, said the disaster posed a security threat to the local government secretariat.
“The council is not safe. We don’t have enough security. I have directed that some of the security men in the out-station be withdrawn to come and man the council “I have alerted the DPO to ensure that he sends police here on surveillance.
“We call on government to come to the aid of the council. If we leave it to the local government, we won’t get anything done because of paucity of funds”. The chairman, Ibesikpo Asutan Transition Committee, Barr. Ukana Udofia, while inspecting affected facilities at the council and the market, said that the destruction caused by the storm was beyond the capacity of the local government council. “The level of destruction here runs into hundreds of millions. So, it is beyond our capacity.
“Some people have been injured. This is a sad period. It is not just the market, private homes in other communities have been affected. We have never witnessed this in the history of this local government” When reporters visited the scene, the transition chairman and the DCO were already at the council taking stock of facilities destroyed, while affected traders were seen packing debris of the wreckage from their shops.
Others whose shops were not completely damaged were fixing new roofing sheets. Udofia said after taking stock of the number of victims and the quantum of destruction, the council would liaise with state agencies to get aid for the victims. The chairman commiserated with traders and indigenes of the local government affected by the incident.
Udofia said:”We want the state government to come in and build a befitting market”, saying the market needs redesigning to provide adequate drainage. One of the timber dealers whose shade was affected, Usoro Usoro, said 11 shades were affected at the timber market.
Some of the affected traders whose shops were destroyed by the rainstorm Emmanuel Sylvester Ekpo and Mrs. Idongesit Anietie Nyong, called on the government to come to their aid. On Okpob Street, Nung Udoe, electric poles fell by the storm destroyed 12 houses, according to a member of the Nung Udoe village council, Aninakid John Usoro.
He said some victims of the disaster were taking refuge at a church, Christian Fellowship, Okpob, Nung Udoe. At Brotherhood Secondary School, Ikot Ide Akpakpan, where the storm destroyed three classroom blocks, the principal, Mrs Comfort Ime Ekpo, said: “When school resumes in May, there will be no place for the students to stay”. She said one of the classroom blocks destroyed is a PTA project and was roofed last weekend. Ekpo called on the state government to fix the classrooms.
Meanwhile, residents of Okpob in Nung Udoe, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area have called on the state government to restore electricity to the area. They lamented the prolonged blackout in the area, saying businesses have folded up and some tenants have started moving out of the area. Mr. Aninakid John Usoro said the area has not had electricity since September 2016.
“The last time we had electricity was September 2016. We have written series of letters to the government telling them about our plight and have made effort to get a new transformer”. Usoro said the transformer feeding the area broke down and attempts to get a replacement have not yielded results.
Electric installations, including poles, wires, in the area were further damaged by Wednesday’s evening rainstorm which destroyed many buildings in the community including facilities at the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government secretariat. Speaking on the damage, Mr. Usoro said 12 electric poles were destroyed in the area by the rainstorm.
He called on government and the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to take urgent steps to remove electric poles and wires that fell on buildings. He said it was time the state government reciprocated the support residents of the area gave the PDP during the last election.
“We all supported the PDP and Mr. Udom Emmanuel during the last election. This is the time for the governor to show us love and reciprocate that support. We are in full support of the Udom Emmanuel’s administration.
We want him to restore electricity to Okpob”, Usoro said. A resident of the area, Mr Okon Etuk, who had part of the roof of his house smashed by one of the falling electric poles, said that the safety of his family was threatened by the disaster. Archibong called on the government to deploy equipment and personnel to the area to save their homes.