Friday, 5 August 2016

Anambra East and West in Turmoil Over Water Hyacinth (Abiola) menace


 
By Ostar Eze

In response to the S.O.S call of the agrarian people of Anambra East and West whose high productivity has been stunted in no small way by the onslaught of hyacinth growths, the Commissioner of Road, Rail, and Water Transport, Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili, in company of her entourage, visited the Omambala river to inspect the gravity of the hyacinth challenge and hear from the people, firsthand, how it has been a challenge to their lives.

The Commisioner, after touring the river on a speed boat exploring till the Anambra-Kogi states borders where the hyacinth outgrowth has made impassable, expressed the Anambra state government's strong drive to remedy the situation, which she has seen as the primary way to facilitate water transportation in the area.

In her words, "In line with His Excellency, Dr Willie Obiano's policy to improve water transportation, we shall commence work on the site. The people of Anaocha; Otuocha, Aguleri and so on, are lucky to have a son of the soil at the helm of affairs and therefore should be rest assured that this hyacinth challenge will be given prompt attention."

She observed that the people of the area are predominantly agrarian and that the river actually has common boundary with Kogi state, and therefore announced that government will engage a professional company that would commence work on clearing the river of the proliferated water hyacinth so that Anambrarians can have easy access to Kogi state while the farmers on the other side of the river will start having easy access to the Otuocha market and beyond.

Nwaebili also inspected the mobile water ambulances and speedboats that were donated by the government and on discovering they had been redundant, which she called "an economic waste", she expressed her intention to put them to constructive use.

Iloegbunam Boniface, the principal beach master in Anambra East in charge of all marine activities in the area, while speaking with the press, disclosed that he was the person that made the S.O.S call to the government.

He said he was happy that the Commissioner for Rail, Road and Water Transport, Hon. Nwaebili came by herself to see things for herself, adding that the community conveys farm produce such as yam, cassava, groundnut and fish from Anambra East but that the hyacinth has grown all over the water surface thereby debarring the people from conveying these essential farm products to Anambra West.

"This abiola has blocked out Iyiora-anam, Umuoba-Abegu, Mmiata-anam, Eziagulu oti and this waterway leads to Kogi state but we no longer have link to Kogi state"

The beach master however appreciated the state government for making it access to the ministry easier for the common man in Anambra state.
Narrating their ordeal, Christopher Ogugua, a native of Umuoba-anam, Otuocha, who spoke of behalf of  engine boat commercial pilots said that the hyacinth, which they call 'abiola' damages their engine and drains their engine boat's fuel due to the drudgery of passing through the hyacinth (abiola).

"We left Anambra West since 5am and had to sleep on the river because of the challenge. This 'abiola' deters us from going about trading our farm produce. And we are the people that cultivate the food that feeds all the communities around here," Rosaline Nnaike from Umuoba Anam added.

Obi Obumseli, a consultant for the development of water ways transportation who was part of the Commissioner's entourage, suggested that a reputable company be contracted to clear and continue to clear the water hyacinths.

"These water hyacinths are bottlenecks that need to be removed on a regular basis to clear water highways for the users, just as is done on the roads,"  Mr Obumseli submitted.
He also said that if the water highways are properly managed, they can contribute greatly to the IGR as the people who use the waterways.
Among the Transport Commissioner's entourage also were Okeke Christopher, Head of Vehicle Inspection and the Chairman ministerial committee on water transport development, Sir Ezeogu, Director, Ministry of transport and Mr Stanley Onunkwo, Public Relations Officer for the State Ministry of Transport.
Picture: Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili and entourage on inspection of Omambala River Hyacinth Onslaught.

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