As Nigerians prepare for the wet or rainy season in earnest, a philanthropist, Dr. Sunday Okonji, has embarked on the construction of 700 metres drains to check the perennial flooding of Ojogho Street, Agbami community, which is close to Christ the King Catholic Church, Okpanam, Delta State.
According to Dr. Okonji, the huge volume of water from Okpanam that passes through the street has created serious ecological challenges and threatened the socio-economic activities of the people of the area.
While stating that the drainage project and other ecological interventions in the area had cost him several millions of naira to manage, the business man observed that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has done a lot in providing infrastructural facilities across the state, saying the governor should not only be commended for his efforts but complemented also.
Okonji said, "As you can see, the area is having serious ecological challenges. Apart from the flooding which made the area inaccessible even by foot before my intervention, houses are being threatened by erosion. I have discussed the problem with the relevant authorities, but they have not been forthcoming, in terms of solution; which prompted my decision to undertake some intervention in controlling the erosion before those buildings cave in.
"The major problem of people living in this area is lack of access road resulting from flooding and the attendant ecological problems, which was worsened by quarry activities.
"For the past three years, I have been the person grading the road to the Catholic Church, Agbami linking Midwifery Road, for the people to have access to their homes.
"I live in the neighbourhood and have facilities in the area including a shopping mall, gas plant, petrol station and school that can employ more than 200 Deltans. So, I can appreciate the numerous socio-economic benefits of having good access roads in this area.
"As we speak, the Bank of Industy (BoI) has already approved the establishment of glass and PVC making company in the area but we require government's intervention too.
"Already, a police post has been approved for the area, which I've chosen to personally see to its building in the next few weeks.
"Last December alone, grading and filling of the gullies took more than N1m (one million naira) from me; and, with the width of this drainage, I'd say government should come to our aid to make it a fully covered drainage and to construct the roads. We have construction companies that have indicated interest to construct the roads with their resources if government agrees to pay at a later date, because we are aware that the Delta State Government led by Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is doing a lot to make life better for Deltans.
"We all need to contribute to the development of the state by assisting the government to continue to carry out its good intentions for the people. I can tell you that we are happy to embark on these projects despite the fact that people believe that it is the responsibility of government to execute such projects because of their huge cost implications."