By Paul Orie
THE people of Ndokwa East are permanently confronted with the spectre of erosion and flooding. These environmental problems have continued to take heavy tolls on the communities, washing away their farms, homes, economic trees, etc.
Sadly, many of the people can no longer develop homes in their various communities. Inevitably, they are taking refuge and building new homes in better terrains in Ashaka, Ndokwa East, Utagba Ogbe, Ndokwa West, Asaba, Delta State capital, Onitsha, Warri, Warri, Benin, etc. This is the dizzying experience of the people.
Another worrisome problem afflicting them is the inaccessibility of their communities, either by road or by land. Whichever way you approach the area, it is as difficult as climbing a greased pole. Inter-community movement is very tasking and travelling to Aboh, the Ndokwa East Local Council headquarters is tedious either by road or by water transportation.
The people often say that it is more convenient for them to travel from Lagos to Aboh than travelling from their various communities to Aboh in terms of the journey time and cost.
This point is elaborated as follows: People from several communities along the west bank of River Niger voyaging upstream to their local council headquarters in Aboh, also located at the same side of the river, take several hours to arrive at their destination. Aside inhabitants of Umuoru, others spend almost a whole day on their voyage to Aboh with speed boats, moving in a plodding pace after paying exorbitant fares to the boat operators. The communities include Onyah, Utuoku, Afiankwo, Okpokrika, Owori Ubia and Akarai.
For those who choose to travel on motorcycles to Aboh through bush paths truncated by River Niger distributaries, they contend with tree trunks and grasses overgrowing the paths called roads in Ndokwa East by the local council.
This was the function of the Public Works Department, PWD, of the 1950s to mid-1960s when the unpleasant military rule terminated that function of the local councils throughout Nigeria.
This journey is very agonising and painful, especially when the rains, coupled with a perennial flood, cause the bush paths and the entire forests to become flooded. The people are often restricted to only one means of transportation – water. This is the experience of other numerous towns along Ase Creek such as Ase, Ibedeni, Azagba, Ekpe, etc.
Furthermore, Ndokwa East people who choose to travel on road to Aboh downstream the Niger from Oko in Oshimili Local Council of Delta State, their journey is equally gruesome. This is a road past and present administrations of the state have not considered for construction to ameliorate the pains of the people, despite the importuning of Ndosimili Development Union, Utchi clan and individuals.
It is a route to Aboh which the people of Utchi clan, the Abala Uno and Abala Osimili, Inyi and Onuoboh do not use if they have anything to do at the local council headquarters; the road simply frightens them.
Rather they prefer crossing to Osamala, on the east bank of the Niger in Ogbalu Local Council, Anambra State, straight on to Onitsha, Asaba-Ashaka in Ndokwa East, where they cross to their council headquarters via Ase Creek. It is worth stressing that none of these communities has roads. The only road linking Ossissa and Abala Uno is an abandoned NDDC road project.
The foregoing paragraphs explain the hassles people experience daily. It also portrays how the hopeless situation of Ndokwa East people is worsening. Travelling out of many parts of the area either from Isoko South Local Council, Patani Local Council or at other points is heart-rending. In most cases, it takes people of these communities who intend to travel to Onitsha, Lagos, Benin and other cities outside Delta State several hours to move out of their towns to where they can board cars, buses to their various destinations.
This is the plight of Ndokwa East people. The degrading condition of the people continues to create massive disillusionment. Who will resolve this crisis?
This question reminds me and perhaps other Deltans present at the commissioning of Delta State Liaison Office in Victoria Island, Lagos in April 2006, where the late gentleman, Deacon Gamaliel Onosode, reiterated his appeal to the government of the state not to consider any part of Delta State inaccessible for development.
This was under Chief James Ibori’s administration which commenced the opening up of the state with many bridges, roads and culverts. This was in fulfilment and furtherance of Ibori’s plan to provide these amenities to make life worth living.
The Patani bridge across the Niger brought relief to all road users plying that road to Rivers State and other Eastern states. It is also boosting the economies of several towns and villages.