By Ehigimetor Igbaugba
The perennial flood problems in Benin, the Edo capital, may soon become a thing of the past when the Edo Storm Project is completed.
Residents of Okhuoro, Medical Stores Road, Upper Lawani, Ewa Road, Eweka, Upper Mission, Medical Road and Omogiate would not forget their horrendous experiences whenever it rained.
A house owner, Mr Ogbemudia Ikhator, said for about 35 years, residents of the area lived in fear whenever raining season approached.
“Each season comes with it attendant pains, sorrow and tears to most residents of the area who fear losing their property during the season.
“Several landlords and other residents have abandoned the area because of the incessant flooding.’’
Ikhator said that he did not leave the area because he spent all his retirement benefits to build the house; hoped that Edo Government would timely complete the Edo Storm Project.
The project covered several communities which had hitherto suffered from flood related problems in Benin City.
According to Edo Commissioner for Environment, Mr Clem Agba, the storm water project has 23 catchment areas that will take about 25 years to implement depending on the availability of funds.
He said that work was progressing steadily on four of the 23 catchments, which accounted for the drastic reduction in flooding in Okhuoro area and its environs.
He put the cost of executing the four catchments at N30 billion, adding that it had drastically addressed problems associated with flooding in some other parts of Benin City.
“The scope of work is not just to build drains, it is a holistic thing. The project includes building of primary and secondary drains.
“It also involves constructing roads fitted with street lights and walk ways in the areas.”
He said though not completed, the project has solved many problems hitherto encountered by residents in the affected areas.
“2008 is a base year for comparism; you know what the problem of flooding was in 2008 and that year, the study we did going backward 50 years in terms of rain fall pattern, shows that as at that 2008, we had 1,599 mm of rain fall.
“In 2013, we recorded 3, 500mm of rain fall, more than doubled what it was in 45 years, and Benin City has not gone under.
“So, the question we have been asking is, what would have happened if we have not taken steps to do the things we are doing,” he asked.
Mr Jean Abbagh, site manager of Setraco, one of the contractors handling a session of the project, said work was progressing as planned.
Abbagh whose company is handling the catchment one of the project which cut across Upper Lawani, Ewa Road, Upper Mission Road and Okhuoro, said about 15 culverts and 42 junctions have been completed.
He also said that many access roads, three major roads and 7.5 km of side drains had been completed.
Abbagh said the drains which were part of the storm water project, became necessary because any work done on the streets/roads without the drains would amount to wastage.
“We understand that for several years, people around here could not move around their houses, people packed their cars far away from their homes because of gully erosion,” he said.
“It wasn’t a place to be proud of before commencement of this project. We are enjoying this place now,” says a resident, Gloria Obokpamhe.
To Abel Uhumgho, part of whose building gave way for the execution of the project, “life couldn’t have been better now, not only for people of this areas but the entire capital city.
“I am a retired soldier and I must confess that I am very happy that a permanent solution is being proffer to this problem that have caused us pains and anguish for years.
“Before now, this whole place looks like River Niger whenever it rains. I am not at all bothered that part of my building was pulled down for the project.”
Uhumgho said his only concern was for the government to ensure completion of the project.
The concern of Uhumgho is indeed the concern of many stakeholders. Projects of importance as the Edo Storm Project are known to have been abandoned midway. (NANFeatures)