Akwa Ibom State Government has ordered residents of Uyo Village, a landslide-threatened area, to vacate their homes to safe areas as soon as possible.
The Commissioner for Environment and Petroleum Resources, Sir Charles Udoh made the call in Uyo village on Monday when he inspected a critical erosion site which almost claimed the lives of three children on Sunday night.
Udoh assured that government was working assiduously to curtail further encroachment as well as check erosion in most parts of the capital city.
He however assured the people that the lives of Akwa Ibom residents are of utmost importance to government, hence the insistence on urgent relocation.
Reacting to the order to quit their ancestral homes, residents of the area who spoke through Mr Austin Iton appealed to their state government to urgently take steps to relocate the people.
Another resident who spoke with newsmen insisted on a resettlement support from government, and vowed to rather be drowned in their ancestral homes than become homeless.
Meanwhile three kids on Sunday night escaped death by the whiskers in Uyo, following a landslide which swallowed a kitchen and cuts off Asutan street into two halves.
It was gathered that the children aged 9,6 and 5 years old had barely left the kitchen after preparing their evening meals when the incident happened.
The Landlord of the affected house, Mr Francis Ikpe, described the landslide as devastating, adding that it was a miraculous escape for the children.
“It was a devastating experience. Three children were preparing their meals in the kitchen. After they left the kitchen, it was not even up to five minutes, when the kitchen collapsed.
The children were eating when suddenly there was a bang and the kitchen and everything inside it buried. They would have been trapped; it was a miracle”, Ikpe said.
The landlord said the community had been living with the erosion for the past 30 years, adding that the dimension was not as disastrous as it turned out to be now.
He said the problem become serious when the state government decided to embark on street repairs and construction of drainages, saying water from six adjoining streets had been channeled to the place without a chamber constructed to receive the volume of water.
“I am the landlord of no 16, Asutan street, the compound that is badly threatened by the erosion. We have lived with the erosion for more than 30 years, the dimension was not as disastrous as it is now.”
“But when the state government decided to embark on massive streets repairs and drainages, water from the six adjoining streets, including barracks road, have been diverted to the place and no chamber was done to receive the water.”
“A lot of damage has been caused to that place. Whenever it rains the volume of water increases and this has been posing threats to lives and properties”, he said.
He called on the state government to intervene before the house is completely swallowed by the rampaging slide.
On relocation order by the state government, Ikpe said, “I just heard that a surveyor came here sometimes ago. He brought a document purported to have been written by the state government in 2011, but no landlord has ever seen that document and there is indication that the landlords acknowledged receipt of the document”, the landlord said.
He said if the state government said they should relocate they have no option if government make provisions for the relocation.
A car dealer and tenant, whose kitchen was swallowed in the slide, one Mohammed Umaru, said he went out to Okoita, on Sunday when he received a call that his house has been swallowed.
He said “Yesterday (Sunday) I traveled to Okoita, where I heard a call by the landlord that the house has collapsed. I rushed back and what I saw was terrible. What we need now is help,. let government do something. I am helpless” Umaru said.