By Suoyo Ekubo
Indigenes of the Anyama-Ogbia community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State have decried the gradual destruction and submerging of over 500 houses, schools, police post, and a magistrate court by coastal erosion in the community.
Anyama-Ogbia which is an ancient community was the Administrative and District headquarters of 18 communities in the Anyama Clan during the colonial era.
Institutions such as the Saint James Anglican Church established in 1910, a Court in 1935, a traditional oil mill in 1955, a rice mill in 1975 addition to a primary school, police post, and post office all in the community as relics of history have now been destroyed and submerged by the rampaging river.
It was gathered that irate Indigenes of Anyam-Ogbia, while on a peaceful match to call on the attention of the State and Federal Government to assist in their plight, displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘Coastal Erosion is Destroying Us, ‘Is Anyama-Ogbia Not Part of Niger Delta?’, ‘Erosion is Exposing Us to Hardship’, ‘Government And Residents’ Buildings Have Been Washed Away’, ‘NDDC Come to Our Aid’ and ‘Federal Government, Bayelsa Government Come and Help Us’, among others.
The Secretary-General of the community, Mr. Potency Owei, called on government at all levels as well as interventionist agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and philanthropists alike to come to their aid by resuming work on the abandoned shoreline protection project awarded to Dredging International Company in 2011 to mitigate the erosion problem.
According to him, the project has since been abandoned as the company evacuated all its personnel and equipment from the area long ago.
Mrs. Alice Adigbo, a primary school teacher in her fifties is one of many locals displaced by the erosion explains that on a night in 2014, her father’s house went down under the river while she and her children were asleep, and only managed to escape by the whiskers.
She said most times natives live in fear as the natural disaster constantly threatens them even as she lost her family house as far back as 2014 to the hazard.
Also speaking, Chief Ase Aduku-Humphrey, 65, Head of Compound Chiefs in Anyama regretted that about a kilometer of the town and houses of over 500 including three landing jetties are all lost permanently to the environmental hazard.
Similarly, another indigene, Mercy Seighbofa said the coastal erosion has wreaked serious havoc as farmlands have also been destroyed, a situation she said has induced more hunger and poverty in the area.
The head of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of Nigeria in Bayelsa State, Alagoa Morris, who led a team of civil society and environmental activists to the area following a recent landslide, described the living condition of the Anyama-Ogbia people as pathetic, urging the authorities to as a matter of urgency provide a solution to the ecological challenge.
The Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Bayelsa State, Alabo Nengi James urged the NDDC to ensure resumption of work on the abandoned shoreline protection project in Anyama Ogbia.