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Gully erosion: Edo community on the verge of extinction

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Ihinmwin Community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State is one of the oldest communities in Benin Kingdom. The community is almost as old as the ancient kingdom and it is separated from Benin City, the headquarters of ancient Benin Empire and present capital of Edo State by the Benin Moat.

Ihinmwin had good road network and they are well paved but over the last few years they have become impassable.

The only road tarred in Ihinmwin is the Saint Saviour Road and a good part of the road has been washed away over the years. Other roads leading to Upper Sokponba and the Ikpoba River are hell for residents, especially during the rains.

Besides the poor state of the roads, Ihinmwin, according to the residents, lacked basic amenities such as health centre and water supply. There are two primary schools and one secondary school in community. Sadly, only one of the primary schools was given facelift as part of the ‘Red Roof’ education revolution of the Governor Adams Oshiomhole administration in the state

A gully that reared its ugly head in 2006 near the Ikpoba River axis has expanded to an unimaginable level and has swallowed over 30 houses during the past nine years, forcing landlords in some areas to flee. About five streets in Ihinmwin are gradually being swallowed by the gully.

An 11 kilometers road project by the Niger Delta Development Commission in the area has since been abandoned. Another NDDC project that gulped millions of naira failed to solve flooding and erosion problems in a large part of Ihinmwin.

Mr Roland Okhuarobo, whose house is close to one of the erosion sites, said he decided to remain in the house even though other members of his family have fled. Roland said the gully in front of house started four years ago after flood water was directed to the area.

His words, “I have lived here for almost 25 years, the gully started about four years ago. We cannot do anything about it. People owned these houses but erosion has driven them away. There is nothing I can do. My children have fled but I have nowhere to go. If the government can come and help we will be happy.

“There was no hole here. Flood water was directed to this area and that was how it started.”

Dr. Iyare Odede said residents have been begging relevant authorities to help them find solution to the problem in order to avert a situation where landlords in the area become tenants in order parts of the state.

“We are begging the state government to come and help us. We cannot drive our cars out. Whenever it rains, we keep our children inside to avoid them being swept away.”

Odionwere of Wire road, Augustine Ikponmwosa, said there was nothing like government presence in Ihinmwin adding, “There are no good roads, water, health care services”.

“The land we preserved for the health centre is still there. I was the chairman of Ihinmwin Committee; we built the primary school with our money including the market. We did it with our money. There is no benefit from the government. We want the present government to look into our affairs. The only secondary school is not well maintained. There are no chairs and the buildings have started collapsing.”

Traditional ruler (Enogie) of Ihinmwin, His Royal Highness Osabuohien Ogiemwenken, said he was taken aback at the widening dimension the gully has taken since the last time he visited the site.

He said: “In 2003, we went there and saw that it was about 30 feet deep and five feet long. We had a meeting to see what we can do. It was not as bad as this.”

“I believe it was caused by a sink hole. It was not somebody that went there to excavate sand but there is so much flood in that area. That flood might have contributed to the new development.

“There have been lots of ups and downs. A commissioner for environment said it was a man-made gully but we made him to understand that it was not like that but there has not been response from the state government at all.

“There is not enough government presence in the whole of Ikpoba-Okha not to talk of Ihinmwin. For some reasons, the present administration has not taken it as a priority. Its focus has been in Oredo and other local governments. The state is not interested in doing anything here in terms of roads and even schools. Most schools here were not renovated by the state government. We have not felt the impact of the state government.”

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