Residents of Anyama-Ogbia in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa State have cried out over the destruction and submerging of over 500 houses, schools, police post and a magistrates’ court by coastal erosion.
They said Anyama-Ogbia, the administrative and district headquarters of 18 communities in the Anyama Clan in the colonial era, had institutions such as the Saint James Anglican Church established in 1910, a court in 1935, and a traditional oil mill in 1955, rice mill in 1975, in addition to a primary school, police post and post office put in place in 1935, all now relics of history, destroyed and submerged by the rampaging coastal erosion.
In a peaceful procession they called on the state and federal governments to alleviate their plight. They 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 the Bayelsa State and federal governments as well as interventionist agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) 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 has evacuated all its personnel and equipment from the area long ago.
A primary school teacher in her fifties, Mrs Alice Adigbo, is one of several locals in Anyama-Ogbia community who has been displaced by the rampaging river triggered by coastal erosion.
She said on a particular night in 2014, her father’s house went down under the force of the river while she and her children were sleeping as they only managed to escape by the whiskers.
Narrating her ordeal, Alice Adigbo, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that most times natives live in fear as the natural disaster constantly threatens them even as she lost her family house in 2014.
She said they have since been taking refuge in the secondary school which is also facing threat of erosion.
Also speaking, Chief Ase Aduku-Humphrey, the 65 year old Head of Compound Chiefs in Anyama regretted that about a kilometer of the town founded in 1655, over 500 houses and three landing jetties are all now under water, lost permanently to the erosion.
In her opinion, 71-year-old Madam Mercy Seighbofa said the coastal erosion has wreaked havoc as farmlands have also been destroyed, a situation that 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 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.