…Firm cries out to Works Minister
…As angry flood sacks fabrication zone
Aba Road flood zone has disappeared but the water has moved to push down the Iriebe fabrication zone.
A visit to the area shows that the water has been bottled up in a pond procured by the contractors but the water has reached what experts call ‘super saturation’, now ready to burst and annihilate the entire zone.
A fabrication and machining company (Thompson& Grace Centre) nearest to the danger zone has cried out, saying over 100 workers may lose their jobs and hundreds of families in the zone may be cut off.
The elite in the area many of them engineers have placed demands on the Federal Ministry of Works (FMW) to urgently redesign the drainage to take the water storms to the Imo Rivers down Oyigbo instead of bottling it up in a pond.
A civil engineer and head of one of the industrial facilities in the area, Ekemini Amos, told newsmen on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, that even if they had already done the drainage with concrete, “If you install a tunnel like pipes underground, you can install solar-pumps at certain intervals so when the water gets to a level, the pumps will trigger and pump the water. There are solutions, all that is needed is someone to direct for it to be done.”
Other engineers in the area said they were sending petition to the Federal Government but that they had repeatedly visited the FMW in Port Harcourt but that it is clear nobody there is interested. “It needs the FG especially the Federal Ministry of Work to intervene. We are tired of suffering. We can take self-help action, but we expect the minister who is a Civil Engineer to understand what we are saying and intervene before matters get out of hand. This is our plea.”
Background of the flood
Giving the background, the CEO of Thompson & Grace Centre, Ekemini Amos, a mechanical engineer, said The Federal Ministry of Works (FMW) awarded the construction job a contractor (CC&CE). He said it was when Aba-Port Harcourt Road from Eleme Junction heading to Oyigbo LGA at a section in Iriebe became impassable to traffic that the FG intervened. He said the area is depressed and thus attracted all the water in Iriebe and environs at that point.
Engineering can solve any human problem
Amos said: “I am an engineer and in engineering, we say, there is no human problem that engineering cannot solve except giving life to a human to live forever.
“Now, this is a case where you have a natural body of water (Imo River), and it was assumed that every water body around this area would be sent to the Imo Rivers, but that was not their objective. Unfortunately, we are in a country where people do not think of the next generation, that is why we are where we are today, but some societies do think for their next generations.”
For instance, he said, Thompson & Grace Company constructed this inner road from Aba Road into the zone and as they designed it, every compound or facility was made to connect to it. This, he said, was not so in the case of the Federal Government’s flood control project.
“Thus, as a result of diversion of flood from Aba Road to the pond instead of to Imo River, this industrial facility is facing serious disaster. What the Federal Ministry of Works (FMW) did was to save cost by buying a piece of land, and they admitted this. But is cost more important than lives and assets of people? All the water coming from Iriebe and the two drains in the area goes into the pond and it cannot hold it.
“We are private people but we constructed this road and we have our drain connected to the pond. That is the right thing to do. Every street ought to be connected to the drain made by the government.
But because the pond is not big enough, there is danger. Right from the beginning, I told them this would not work. As an engineer of many years standing, I saw the fault early but they refused to listen.”
Super saturation concept
He mentioned ‘Super Saturation’ in civil engineering. “It is the point when the water-holding facility cannot contain or hold the water, it is point of super saturation. If you dig a pit for water to enter, once the edge cannot take the water, what it suffers is ‘super saturation’.
“The situation in this facility is terrible. Hundreds of millions of investments are threatened. We have pictures of when water floods all of this industrial centre, a facility that employs over 100 persons. We are losing contract jobs here because some of our clients after looking at the surge ended up cancelling the jobs they gave us, saying here is not safe, yet we pay tax.”
Incidentally, he stated, the Controller of Works did not pay attention. “He said he was aware of my view but that it was expensive.
“A project of this magnitude needed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Sadly, this is Nigeria. I pray we do not go into self-help. The day I went to the FMW, in fact, I was ready for anything. We expect that this situation can be remedied. We want the Minister of Works to come to Port Harcourt and save us.
“These are not a threat anymore in some countries where things work. We travel everyday and see wonders of construction and engineering creativity that solve human problems. I have driven under water in one country in Europe. Between the UK and Continental Europe, there is a tunnel of 58km. Train drives through.”
Read also: Enugu-Port Harcourt bridge collapses
Hundreds will lose jobs; the design was faulty:
He pointedly said this Iriebe flood control project is faulty. “The design was wrong, there was no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), no stakeholders consultation where stakeholders would tell you how it affects them and you go back to design a solution.
“The current Minister is a civil engineer and he will surely understand what we are talking about, and he knows what to do. If this company shuts down, hundreds of people will suffer. Children will not go to school from this area. Aba Road will shut down and all the efforts to construct the Port Harcourt-Aba Road would be a waste. We pay tax and the government owes us a duty of care. A time will come when the pond cannot take the water because it would have absorbed enough such that even if dry season comes, it will not go down.”