Imo in distress

By Chukwudi Ikpe

The problem of erosion and flooding which have been ravaging Imo State, especially the capital city, Owerri and its environs, will soon be a thing of the past.
The state governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, disclosed this in a crucial meeting with environmental professionals at the Sam Mbakwe executive chambers last weekend.
The professionals include Engineers, Architects and Surveyors under the auspices of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Owerri branch, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) Imo State Chapter and Nigeria Institute of Surveyors (NIS), Imo State Chapter.
The Governor thanked the professionals for their quick response to the invitation and revealed that the state is facing critical environmental challenges, which he said, requires expertise.
He appreciated the efforts of the professionals in helping the state government in the past and called for their continued partnershi0p, adding that the state is in a distress.
Governor Ihedioha therefore, solicited for their suggestions and recommendations on how to restore the environment of the state.
The Governor who expressed the determination of his administration to provide healthy and hazard-free environment for Imo citizens also called for all hands to be on deck, stressing that the issue goes beyond party affiliation.
Also speaking, former Governor of the state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim thanked the Governor for his intervention on the menace.
He pointed out that Owerri is one of the cities in West Africa that is located in a valley, adding that it has an original design which was done with consideration to that effect.
Ohakim recalled that during his administration in 2007, he invited professionals and a reputable construction company, MCC to tackle the same problem but regretted that the immediate past government started overhauling the city without considering the original plan, which is the primary thing.
He expressed optimism in the ability of the professionals to proffer solutions to the challenge and emphasized the need to act as quick as possible.
In his response, the chairman, Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), Owerri branch, Engr. Dr. Luke O. Uzoigwe said that the purpose of the meeting is well understood and assured that NSE is capable of proffering solutions to the menace.
Also responding, the chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Imo State Chapter, Arc. Dr. Basil O. Agoha, FNIA suggested that the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) and all development control agencies should be properly constituted.
He also advised that all designs for approval must be certified by the appropriate state chairman of professional bodies before submission.
Dr. Agoha further explained that all relevant national laws such as National Building code as well as Urban and Regional Planning Act must be respected for environmental harmony to be achieved.
In his own response, Ven. Dr. Akajiaku C. Chukwuocha, who represented the chairman, Nigeria Institute of Surveyors (NIS) Imo State Chapter, pointed out that some of the areas affected by flooding were caused by wrongly planned and wrongly executed road projects.
Ven. Chukwuocha, who explained his points digitally on screen, also noted that some roads were raised too high and revealed that facts surrounding the causes of the flood are available.
He, however, believes that with necessary logistics and urgent action, the situation can be halted.