-By ABEL JOHNGOLD ORHERUATA:
Residents of Airport View Estate of Asaba axis in Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State have today protested the blockage of what they called the only waterway channel, causing lack of access road into the area by a politician.
The politician identified as Anthony Anukwu, a member of the State ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bought a controversial piece of land and had erected a structure in the said land measuring 30fts by 200 blocking the waterways at Engr. Joseph Obi Street in Airport View Estate.
According to the protesters / residents, the PDP stalwart built on the waterways, blocking the only water leeway and causing heavy flow of erosion whenever it rains that has led to collapse of buildings and fences pulling down in the Airport View Estate.
The residents protesting, stormed streets in the Estate with placards inscribed with: “Okowa, Our Governor your politician have blocked our access road and waterways. Please help us; Senator Okowa come to our rescue by demolishing illegal structure blocking our roads now; Our lives are in danger we can’t sleep anymore because of erosion and insecurities; All fences have collapsed because of erosion.”
Other inscriptions were: “Okowa save us from being wash away by erosion; PDP man, don’t block the access road to over 3000 residents; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, please save us from impending danger from Anthony Anukwu, your PDP chieftain; no road no development, if you block the only access road, you will compound our plight.”
The access roads and erosion challenges were said to have started four years ago when some of the residents woke up to discover that the said politician was laying foundation for his project.
The aggrieved residents, led by the Chairman of Non-Indigenes Association in Delta State, Asaba branch, Chief Engr. Joseph Obi, the Executives of Airport View Estate Landlord Association were said to have written several letters to the Ministries of Lands and Survey, Environment, Information as well as other relevant government agencies, calling their attention to the dangers posed by the blockage. They appealed to the governor to remove the structure.
Consequently, officials of the Delta State Government were said to have visited and marked the structure for demolition. And that the then Commissioner for Lands and Survey even advised the politician as a fellow political Party man to remove the shanty to save endangered houses in the Estate but Anthony Anukwu refused and instead boasted that they were the ones that put Gov Okowa in power.
The residents also alleged that rather than obey the law, Anthony Anukwu was said to have allegedly boasted that being an aide to the Governor as SSA, he was ready to spend N30m to on any case the residents wants to institute stopping him from developing his land
Speaking to journalists at the protest venue, Chief Engr. Joseph Obi, a major landlord in the area who said he has lived in the area for years, stated that the disputed shanty / structure was the major waterways draining heavy flow of waters coming from Okpanam to the area whenever it rains heavily.
He disclosed that “we have written to relevant sectors of the Government number of times over the menace but it seems the State Government has actually neglected the residents of the area because of one politician of PDP member that bought our access road and every efforts to remove the shanty he put on the waterways proved abortive the Government and the police are behind him.
“Because of one man over 50 buildings have been washed away, fences pulled down, reported cases of children drowning time to time. Not long ago, a man died while trying to rescue his daughter from drowning in erosion waters in the area.” He added.
Some landlords in the area including Chief Edward Acha, a retired Civil Servant, Chief Fabian Chukwuma Okiah, BoT member of Airport View Estate and PDP Chieftain in the State, Chief Onobraekpeyan Edward and Chief Mrs. Gladys Ugberu, said the protest was to draw the attention of the State Government to the plights they were suffering in the area.
While appealing to the State Government to come to their aid that their properties were destroying, they revealed that they have several times taken self palliative measures that helped curtailed the erosion but it was now beyond them.