An Imo State governorship aspirant for the 2019 gubernatorial election, Nick Opara-Ndudu, has lamented the continued flooding of Owerri, the state capital and adjourning towns. He blamed the deluge of water on the ongoing urban renewal project which he said has resulted in the destruction of already provided infrastructure in the city.
Opara-Ndudu, a former commissioner, who is seeking the ticket of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), said that the urban renewal project by the state government, which he insisted was lacking in thorough assessment of the existing infrastructure designed to prevent flood, had ended up destroying the drainage systems in the city, hence the frequent flood.
He spoke on Thursday when he addressed a committee of friends and party supporters, who paid him a courtesy visit in his country home in Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, where he also expressed sympathy for the victims of what he called the ongoing rapacious destruction in the city.
“Imo State was planned from day one by a Swiss firm, Fingerhut&Partners. And that master plan, for Imo State, and Owerri in particular, provided for new cities and it was very detailed with provision of underground drains, gutters, drainages and what have you,” he declared, adding that most of the drains were put in place during the times of Ndubisi Kanu, Sunday Adenihun and Sam Mbakwe, and now, they have been destroyed.
According to Opara-Ndudu, “Owerri was known as a city that never got flooded whenever it rained. As a matter of fact, each time it rained, in less than two hours, the rain would have been taken away through the various channels provided under the master plan, which had been constructed over 40 years ago.
“Unfortunately, in the past seven years, we have witnessed what I can see as a rapacious destruction of the already provided infrastructure, very solid infrastructure. Beginning with Wetheral Road, where suddenly, Owelle Rochas Okorocha woke up and felt that he needed to convert those drains into walkways.”
He said that when these drains were covered, no efforts were made to provide alternative channels through which water can flow as provided in the master plan, a situation that has led to the continued flooding of Owerri city and adjourning towns.
He regretted that Owerri has been taken 50 years backwards as a result of this planless reconstruction, and the use of non professionals who could have advised the government on the right procedure regarding city renewal.
Opara-Ndudu urged Imolites not to lose hope as Imo would rise again when a purposeful leadership, which is sensitive to the feeling of the people, would be put in place in 2019.