Occupants of an old three-storey building at 112 Bende Street, Old Port Harcourt Township are still counting their losses following the collapse of the building they lived in for many years.
The building which an expert believes was built during the colonial era was until last Wednesday morning, standing at the mercy of the authorities.
Not fewer than 20 tenants were occupying the building when a long truck in a bid to pass pulled a power cable that hung at the roof of the building which led to its final collapse.
Though no lives were lost, the occupants at the second and third floors were trapped in the building for hours as the staircase pulled off and collapsed.
In the quest to save those trapped inside, neighbours had to look for ladders to help rescue those upstairs, since the staircase had fallen off.
One of the occupants, Mrs. Hope Apiafi told The Tide Metro that she was still fast asleep on the fateful day when she heard a loud noise.
Roused by the noise she stepped out of her room to see part of the front part of the building gone down. She was in the second floor and was trapped.
With the house entrance and staircase gone, she raised alarm and neighbours came to her rescue.
She narrated how she could only save her life, while her electronics and household equipment have all gone with the rumbles.
Mrs Apiafi said, she thanked God that her four kids were in her sister’s place when the incident occurred.
While calling on government to come to her rescue, the young lady regretted that for over two years she could not afford paying rent somewhere.
She recalled that experts had four years ago warned them of the integrity of the building, but she had no money to seek new apartment elsewhere.
Claiming that she could only save few clothing and utensils, Apiafi pleaded for assistance stating that she has no job for now.
Another tenant, Boma Bobmanuel said he could only save himself as all his property were lost in the disaster.
Recalling his experience, he stated that the incident happened around 4.30am on Wednesday morning.
Trapped upstairs, since he stayed on the third floor, Mr Bobmanuel was apprehensive that the roof will soon collapse on him.
Neighbours came to his rescue as he was given a ladder to get out of the building fast.
He told The Tide Metro that he did not pick a pin from his room, as he was after his life first.
Not long after he came out from the building that the front side finally caved in.
Bobmanuel did not incur an injury, but said he was stranded and wanted public support.
He said to have lost his job, hence, has to stay in the dilapidated building to have a shelter over his head.
But a senior government official from the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development told The Tide Metro that the building had been marked unsafe for the past four years.
The senior government official, who supervised the final demolition of the property last Thursday revealed that many of such buildings abound in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor metropolis.
While pleading anonymity, the high government official said, a survey carried out by the Ministry, indicates that many buildings in the city are old and need to be demolished.
He noted that in the past three years, the state has recorded many building collapse and the need to rid the state of such dangers.
Once the state executive gives orders, he revealed that the ministry will swing into action.
The official advised property owners to always do maintenance on their buildings, especially old ones.
An engineer, who spoke to The Tide Metro, Mr Amadasun George said most of the buildings in old Port Harcourt Township were built during the colonial period and therefore needed renovation or outright demolition.
Explaining what happened on the building at 112 Bende Street, the engineer stated that some years back, the property had shown signs of aging.
In 2014, for instance, Mr George recalled that the chimney of the building had fallen off.
He further explained that what saved the tenants was that the builders of the property detached the staircase and did not fortify it with pillars, and as such it fell without pulling the structure along with it.
Much before now, when the rear side of the property collapsed, Ministry officials had to mark it down for danger, and warned residents.
By: Kevin Nengia
Kaani Town Begging For Govt’s Presence
As one passes the Birabi Memorial Grammar School in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area, a road veers from the left hand-side of the road beside the High Court premises, into Kaani community.
Going to Kaani with a motorcycle is barely up to five minutes and is just 50 meters from the junction. The community is separated by a narrow bridge from Bori metropolis. It has a calm and serene outlook with few paved roads leading to the only secondary school in the community. The road terminates at Sogho, linking the East West Road, leading to Akwa Ibom State.
Apart from lack of paved roads, Kaani does not have electricity, functional health centre or potable water, and one expects that its proximity to Bori would attract modern amenities to the ancient town.
On the left hand side of the major road in the town, another path leads to an untarred road leading to Methodist Church, one of the early churches that came into Kaani, that same road leads to Kaani II. Delimitation of Kaani was for administrative convenience, according to Chief Joseph Dinee. “The missionaries did it for administrative purpose. During one of the harvest programmes, they divided the community into Kaani 1 and Kaani II, but they are one and the same people- Teyor and Gbor people.
After moving round town to get a feel of the community, the traditional ruler of Kaani, Mene Barikpoa Apere, Mene- Bua Kaani told The Tide Metro that the situation of Kaani has been a challenge over the years, “maybe if we had somebody in government, we would not be having what we are passing through now.”
He continued, “Ironically, Kaani is the largest community in Khana Local Government Area, and yet we do not have power, water and hospital.” The only secondary school in this community was built in 1978 and was through a community effort,” he added.
The traditional ruler recalled that during one of the visits of the Governor to Bori last year, during which he was honoured by Ogoni people, he promised to connect us to national grid, but that has not been fulfilled.
The quest to provide power to the community has been a long and unfruitful one, recalled Elder Clarkson Agara. “We have pursued this matter for many years. It is like biblical prayer to continue in prayers. The unfortunate aspect of it is that while our neighbour, Bori is connected to power, there is none here.”
The community leader, Clarkson Agara told The Tide Metro that there have been attempts to reach out to agencies of government as he blamed the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for failing to complete the electrification project. “We learnt that a budget and proposal was made for the project. We have contacted the commission and sent delegates and nothing has happened”.
A similar tale was stated by Pastor Gbaranor John, as he recalled that the community started pushing for power during the administration of Sir Peter Odili. “The community visited the governor, a number of times and shortly after a meeting, a survey of the area was conducted and that was the last we heard about it.”
Mene Barikpoa Apere is not happy that all these efforts have failed to yield results.
We are an agrarian community he told The Tide Metro and power is basic to most of our activities.
The traditional ruler emphasised that power is key to development and without it; it is difficult for the community to move forward.
He lamented that most of the small scale businesses are dependent on power. These include barbing saloons, hair dressing, welding and other activities that require electricity. As he reasoned that water boreholes also need to be powered to provide water.
In addition to that, he made a plea for government to complete the abandoned health centre in the community.
He added, “I want to believe that the next government would give us attention, but it is not too late for our governor to fulfill his pledge for now.”
By: Kevin Nengia
RSG Selling Breastfeeding To Women
There are fears that breastfeeding may go extinct going by recent statistics of nursing mothers who breastfeed their new borns for at least six months.
Member of a committee on Breastfeeding Week at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Nurse Aganah Ebirien told The Tide Metro that the campaign to raise awareness is across all health facilities in the state.
She expressed fear that, “there is a threat to breast feeding and it’s fading away.”
Nurse Ebirien who is popularly referred to as “Mama Breast” in RSUTH lamented that if nothing is done now many women may see breastfeeding as archaic.
“Studies have shown that many nursing mothers because of their work schedules and the obsession to look younger with standing breasts don’t give their babies breast milk” Ebirien observed.
She told The Tide Metro that these new posture of women about breast feeding are mostly “myths” and these myths are big barriers to embracing breastfeeding.
For this year, the theme “Step Up Breastfeeding, Educate and Support” is aimed at raising awareness and discouraging all forms of attitude that puts barrier to the culture of breast feeding.
Nurse Ebirien is miffed that many nursing mothers ignorantly do not know huge benefits of breast feeding. “One of the benefits is that it increases bonding between a baby and his mother.”
For her, it’s not enough to breastfeed but “exclusive breastfeeding” is key “When I mean exclusive breast feeding, I mean giving the baby only breast milk for the first six months without water or glucose water”.
She explained that apart from reducing financial burden on the family in the buying of infant formula milk, exclusive breast feeding boosts the brain and intelligence of babies.
In addition to that, she stressed that the immunity of the child is also fortified. “A child who is well breast fed hardly fall sick, and that too reduce expenses on family which results from medical treatment.
Ebirein pointed out that most often mothers throw away the first milk that drops from the breast called ‘colostrum’, that is the most beneficial and rich part of the breast milk, “In the past our grandmother threw it away,” she said.
By: Kevin Nengia
New Rumuokwuta Flyover Excites PH Residents
Few days after the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, announced plans to construct two flyovers at Rumuokwuta and NTA/Mgbuoba Road, residents and businessmen and women have applauded the government for the development.
During a city survey of the area, some residents say the project is overdue.
In a chat with the Tide Metro, Mr Jerry Okechuku said the Rumuokwuta axis needs the flyover more than before.
Okechukwu who has lived in Rumuokwuta for over 20 years said the governor was visionary in siting the project.
Relating his experience of traffic in the area, Okechukwu said it is very high especially during rush hours in the morning.
He further said the road is narrow and as such, the new flyover should envision the different routes that connect Rumuokwuta.
He stressing the need to build the flyover such that it will envisage the future.
He said the flyover should have a pedestrian and arms to connect to the various linking roads in the area.
His view he said is predicated on the fears that if the flyover does not reflect the challenges experienced in some newly constructed bridges, it would not achieve the purpose.
A commercial motor operator and member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Stanley Emegwu, suggested the need for the new flyover to be constructed like the Obiri Ikwerre interchange to accommodate the various links that connect with Rumuokwuta.
Emegwu observed that Rumuokwuta hosts huge traffic that comes from Ikwerre Road, Mgbuoba, Rumuokoro and Rumuola, hence, it will be advisable to have an interchange.
In the view of Bright Ukachukwu, the new project is welcomed but that what is needed is more fallback areas for commercial bus drivers who drop passengers along the road.
On the time lag for completing the project, he described the governor as a talk and do leader who over time has always fulfilled his vision and goals.
Ukachukwu however urged Governor Wike to monitor the project himself to reduce contractor failure.
Calling on the governor to look into other areas, he suggested that efforts should be made by the state chief executive to create jobs and improve opportunities for young people as a lasting legacy.
A resident and indigene of Rumuokwuta, Mr Patience Ordu Ihejirika was full of praises for the new flyover.
She admitted that over the years, Rumuowuota Junction has been a challenge in terms of huge traffic snarl.
As a resident, she said it will transform the area and improve the beauty of the community.
Ihejirika, however, expressed fears over the demolition of houses and pleaded for adequate compensation for house owners.
Apart from providing relief to those whose properties will pave way for the project, she advised the Governor to press the contractor to deliver on time.
A shop owner and manager of a phone repair outfit, Comrade Ifeanachor Sylvester commended the governor for the project.
He recalled that the traffic snarl at Rumuokwuta would be reduced to the barest minimum.
On his fears, Sylvester said many shops at the junction would go and therefore expressed worry that their business would be affected.
For now, Sylvester said their landlords have not given them quit notices even though survey works have commenced for the flyovers.
Sylvester pleaded with the government to give shop owners soft landing by ensuring that they are given ample time to relocate or provide them alternative places.
By: Kevin Nengia
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