Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) had in January 2020 declared some LGAs in Imo and Abia States as highly probable flood risk areas. Among the places listed within Abia State as a highly probable flood risk location in 2020, is Umunneochi LGA while others are Osisioma-Ngwa, Isiala-Ngwa North and Ukwa West LGA.
The others are Ukwa-East, Umuahia-North, Umuahia-South and Obingwa LGA.
Before you share dramatic flooding pictures from Ariaria area, kindly note the following:
1. Ariaria International Market, Aba, which is more than 44 years old, is located within Osisioma Ngwa LGA which is included in the NiMet forecast
2. Aba, the commercial nerve center of the South East is located within a low lying heavy rain belt and the current location of Ariaria market is in the lowest lying area, west of the city, while Ngwa Road (Ndiegoro area) is located within the lowest lying point in the eastern axis of the city.
3. In its early days, the Ikpeazu administration noted the above (2) and promptly designed a plan to reconstruct Ariaria International Market (see 3D picture), brought in a foreign investor to deliver the project but the traders vehemently resisted it, followed that up by refusing to move and literally walked out on the latest meeting organized to offer them alternative accommodation and incentives to move pending when the proposed remodeled market was completed (This can be onfirmed from attached comment of the Chairman of the Market Committee, Mr Okeke Chigozie Stephen).
4. There were drainage paths constructed originally in the market but some of the traders blocked the drains by building illegal structures on the path and totally distorted the master plan of the 44 years old market. Same traders are at the forefront of resisting attempts to reconstruct the market for reasons that bother on selfishness.
5. Yet, to support trading activities, tne government embarked on tne Ifeobara Pond flood management and the ongoing reconstruction of Brass-Faulks (Ariaria) project by Setraco Construction Company that has ensured that, for the first time in decades, vehicles can move from Express Junction through Faulks Road to Brass Street along Aba-Owerri Road, in addition to 3 other roads done by the administration to link up Ariaria market area.
6. There is an unoccupied brand new “Aba Mall” in Osisioma LGA done by private investors under the preceding administration that has been waiting for at least a segment of Ariaria market traders to move to and allow for full, partial or phased reconstruction of Ariaria market.
7. Under the watch of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, some internal Roads in Ariaria were rehabilitated and new drains constructed to evacuate storm water through the new 6.5km underground drainage pipe done by the administration but the traders continue to block the internal drains by dumping wastes into them and putting up makeshift trading structures on the path.
If the prediction of heavy rainfall and flooding of Osisioma Ngwa area from hydrological and meteorological agencies hold true then Ariaria International Market and surrounding communities will definitely be heavily impacted.
Rather than hire pay per publication photographers to share real and fake dramatic flood pictures from the market, tne traders need to work with the government to ensure immediate evacuation to any of the alternative markets, or, in the least, commence immediate desilting of gutters and removal of illegal structures built on drainage ways.
Aside from the work already done at the Ifeobara-Faulks Road area, the Ikpeazu administration also moved to solve the perennial flooding challenge at the Ndiegoro axis by partnering with the World Bank to commence the ongoing N27.4bn flood control project that includes total reconstruction of Ngwa, Obohia, Ohanku and Uratta roads with a spur to PH Road as well as a massive underground drainage through Ngwa road to Aba Waterside. That is by far the biggest, the most ambitious and the most audacious effort made to solve the perennial Ndiegoro flooding problem that made late Chief Sam Mbakwe weep because of neglect by the federal government.
Unless Ariaria traders heed the warning from federal and state agencies and do the needful today, there will likely be more dramatic pictures from Ariaria area in the coming days and years. As we say in Igbo land, “Ukpana okpoko gburu nti tiri ya”, will definitely apply.
Abia State Government is ever ready to support long term solutions to the Ariaria flooding challenge with a ready plan to humanely relocate the traders without causing undue hardship to our people.
For now, it is to the credit of the government that while the administration has not been able to stop heavy rains from falling in Aba we have ensured that less than an hour after the heaviest of rains, flood water will seamlessly follow the newly constructed drains scattered around Aba to the natural storm water collection point in Aba Waterside.
Chief John Okiyi Kalu, Igbiji Aku Mba Nke Mbu, writes from Umuahia.