A 60-year-old woman has been swept away by the first torrential rains of the year in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, last Wednesday.
This sparked protest among angry youths drawn from the Iboko Offot axis of Uyo yesterday who besieged the portion of Abak Road, where the 60-year-old woman was swept away by the flood into a drainage channel.
The woman, eyewitness said, was a petty trader at Nkemba street closed to the scene of the incident, saying the incident happened at about 4:30 p.m.
The eyewitness said the woman was returning from the market where she went to buy her goods for sale when she was swept away and drowned in an open drainage.
“We made efforts to rescue her when we noticed she was being swept away uncontrollably by the flood water.
“Before we got to her, the fast-moving water had already drawn her closer to an open hole linking the underground drainage facility,” the eyewitness said.
The source recalled that “officials of the state waste management and environmental protection agency had opened the slabs to remove sewage and cleared the drains, but failed to cover them back about three years ago.”
Vehicles plying the road to Abak, Etinan and other adjoining parts of the state had hectic time navigating through Ukana Offot, Nkemba and Clement Isong streets to get out of the state capital.
One of the protesters, blamed the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals for “lack of sincere commitment to environmental protection,” vowing that “we will remain here until the state government recue the remains of the aged woman and adequate compensation given for proper burial.”
However, the state Commissioner for Environment and Solid Mineral, Sir Charles Udoh, expressed deep sense of sadness over the incident, and appealed for calm as frantic efforts were on to retrieve the corpse for burial.
Udoh said: “I am on the spot of the incident right now to find the dead body. So, I have ordered for equipment to come. We need to break the slaps and the gutters so we can pull it to find the dead body.
“After that, I will do a proposal to the governor on how to prevent future occurrence.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Odiko Macdon, said security personnel have been drafted to the area to restore peace.
“The incident is just an accident brought by the first rain of the year. We are a peaceful agency and we have mobilised our men to disperse the youths who have barricaded the road,” he stated.