By Chuks Eke
No fewer than 1,500 students of the Metallurgical Training Institute, MTI, Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday embarked on a peaceful demonstration in protest against their displacement by Wednesday night heavy down pour which over flooded 10 out of their total of 27 hostel blocks in the institution.
Led by the President of the Institute’s Students Union Government, SUG, Comrade Chigozie Onyeyiri Ezeofor, the students displayed some placards with certain inscriptions as Governor Chukwuma Soludo should come to our aid. We can no longer have access to our hostels. We are stranded. This environment is no longer conducive for us to learn”, among others.
Conducting newsmen round the over flooded hostels, together with the Institute’s Deputy Director of Works, Engr. Ferdinand Omeh, the SUG President, Ezeofor explained that out of a total of 27 hostel blocks in existence at the MTI premises, 10 of them were over flooded by the heavy down pour, thereby rendering over 360 students living in the flooded hostels homeless.
Omeh and Ezeofor further explained that apart from displacing the students and rendering them homeless, the flood equally destroyed their house-hold properties worth millions of naira.
According to the demonstrators, “the present impact of this, which the entire Institute community is now facing is terrible. Portions of Institute’s perimeter fence that was recently reconstructed has again been pulled down by the flood arising from the heavy down pour”.
“Network of internal asphalted roads rehabilitated not long ago is now cut into sections. Students hotel buildings are now flooded almost to window level and as a result, students’ personal belongings, including food stuffs, boxes/bags, beddings were destroyed and above all, both academic and non-academic activities have been paralyzed”.
Contending that the perennial flooding in the Federal Government owned institution was worsened because contractors from the government destroyed their existing drainages in a bid to build a new one, without providing alternative measures to mitigate the flood, Ezeofor and Omeh further mentioned students’ cafeteria, multipurpose hall/common room, worship centres with sacred articles of worship, property in commercial vendors’ shops, computers, generators, stationeries were all destroyed and/or reduced to wastes”.
“Flooding has been an issue here in this institution, but it was worsened because the government recently commenced flood control process by removing an existing drainage inside the school, but they didn’t put the necessary measures in place to mitigate flood”.
“They commenced flood control during the rainy season, but now, they have abandoned the work and as we speak now, the whole institution is flooded. Students properties are being destroyed, our beds, mattresses, learning materials, laptops, pots of soups have been washed away”.
“We are embarking on this peaceful demonstration to draw the attention of the government towards our plight, the management of the institution has done it’s best, but we need the government to step in and continue the job which they have abandoned”.
“The two machines the government brought for the job are not working and there is need for them to bring in more personnel to commence the work so that normal activities will resume at the institution.”
During the peaceful demonstration round the community, some students of the institution were seen scooping waters out of their various rooms from their hostels, while some were also trying to salvage some of their properties, like laptops, phones, clothing, beds from the flood.
“Our properties are damaged. The flood suddenly submerged our beds and we have remained awake every night. This flood has subjected us all to pains. Other students whose valuables are inside have abandoned them because there is no way in and the rainwater has filled the whole place.”
The premises of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Catholic Church Chaplaincy was equally flooded so much so that their wireless microphones and laud speakers were soaked by water, just as the perimeter fencing protecting the Deeper Life Church building was pulled down completely.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Ugochukwu Owoh blamed the Anambra State government for the development.
Ugochukwu noted that the state government channelled waters that come from Obosi, Nkpor and Onitsha-Owerri Road and environs, down to the school, without providing adequate measures for enough drainage.
He said, “The flood issue has lingered for some years now, but the school authorities are doing their best. The flood is as a result of the state government channelling waters that come from Obosi, Nkpor, Onitsha-Owerri Road and environs down to the school.
“But before then, we had a smaller drainage which was carrying little water, we made a case to the state government and other relevant agencies, but the state government came and escarvated the existing drainage in the name of expansion, but the work has been abandoned and there is no alternative measures put in place.
“As we speak now, the waters have covered the buildings in the school and the buildings are sinking. The students hostels, school mosque, church and lecture halls are under waters. The student beds, mattresses, learning equipment and pots of soups are swimming in the waters all over the places.”