By SAM ADZEGEH, Makurdi –
Long suffering residents of Agber community in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, got a beautiful new year’s gift yesterday when they woke up to the sight and sounds of a gigantic caterpillar fully at work in the neighbourhood.
This is as work resumed on the dredging of a water canal that runs through the settlement.
The canal was designed to check perennial flooding in the area.
Work had started on the canal in 2019 but had apparently been abandoned in 2020 after completion of the first phase.
Yesterday, however, there was much jubilation in the settlement as work resumed on the canal in full force.
Agber is a sprawling settlement of more than ten thousand people which is located on the eastern exit of the State capital.
The settlement has suffered neglect by successive state governments for more than anyone can remember.
Residents here exist in squalid surroundings in almost perpetual darkness as public power supply from JED is virtually non-existent.
Inhabitants only see JED officials when they come around to distribute inflated power bills and to engage in illegal connections and disconnections.
The over congested area is also bereft of other infrastructure like good roads and an effective drainage system, while houses of all shapes and sizes are arbitrarily constructed on waterways and major streets, thus distorting what should otherwise be an exotic semi-urban layout.
For more than 20 years, these arbitrary constructions blocking waterways have resulted in flash floods which yearly cause devastating damage to the settlement.
Several complaints to relevant authorities as well as newspaper publications have failed to attract any response from governments at all levels until the 2019 initiative by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
Potable water is non-existent and most residents are forced to depend on dirty water from the canal, the few boreholes owned by a privileged few and water hawkers known as ‘mai ruwa’.
Yesterday, however, excited residents expressed hopes that the completion of the canal will bring succour to the area as well as other infrastructural development