Abia Community Cries Out Over Illegal Commercial Sand Dredging in their Land, Begs Govt for Intervention and Stoppage.

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The People of Ocheala-Mbutu in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State has cried out to Abia State Government to Urgently intervene over the illegal Commercial Sand Dredging by OguGod Dredging LTd ongoing in their Land.

Ocheala-Mbutu community which is located at the Imo river bank is considered a fragile environment prone to flooding, erosion and other natural disasters. The natural livelihoods of dwellers include fishing, farming, hunting, manual sand digging, etc. The wetland serves for seasonal cultivation of vegetables, especially for the marginalized.

Given this setting, NIWA and Abia State Ministry of Environment placed a ban on commercial sand dredging in the community. In a town hall meeting the generality of the people of the community also placed a ban on commercial dredging in the area. These decisions were borne out of the concern of the various stakeholders, of the dangers and threat illegal and unrestrained dredging pose to the community livelihoods, environment (especially the destabilization of the ecosystem integrity), lives and properties. It was on this basis that operators were asked at that time to remove their dredgers from the river, and prospective operators restrained.

The Community is raising alarm over the disturbing illegal mechanical dredging activity which is going on in their community, perpetrated by one Ogugod Dredging Company Ltd, in collaboration with a few individuals from the community.

“This is in flagrant disregard of the above subsisting bans. The dredge site is very close to Owerrinta bridge, and will certainly compromise the structural integrity of the bridge, and may ultimately lead to its collapse if this dredge site is not closed down immediately”

“There is now restiveness within the community because of the disrupted livelihoods, forcible acquisition of farmlands for road construction and naked aggression by Ogugod Dredging Company Ltd who has resorted to engaging the touts to terrorize the villagers. This state of affairs could snowball into a violent conflagration if unchecked” a Community Leader told oue Correspondent.

“In order to forestall this present development, our association had earlier appealed to the state government through its Ministry of Environment to intervene. Unfortunately no concrete action has been taken, and one is under the impression that the government is vacillating or foot-dragging” he said

The Community called on Governor Alex Otti for quick intervention, demanding that the dredging activity be stopped immediately in order to forestall further environmental degradation and the associated negative impact on the populace, collapse of Owerrinta bridge and possible outbreak of full blown crisis in the community.

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