Worried by the huge financial strength needed to tackle the menace of gully erosion in the state, Edo State government has announced its readiness to approach the World Bank to seek a loan of between $75 million to $100 million to work on the erosion sites across the state.
The fund would be sourced from the $650 million dollars facility approved by the bank to tackle Nigeria’s Erosion Watershed Management Programme as approved by President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the state Commissioner for Environment, Prince Clem Agba, the fund will assist the state government tackle the problem of gully erosion at 110 sites in the state.
He added that the quest was subject to the National Assembly’s approval in accordance with the country’s borrowing plan.
The World Bank facility is meant to address erosion problems in five eastern states of the country as well as Edo and Cross River states.
Agba, who disclosed this while reacting to a call by the Onojie of Ewu, Zaiki Ojeifo 111 on the Edo State Government to rescue his community from imminent threat of gully erosion, identified Queen Ede in Benin, Ewu and Iruekpen in Edo Central and Warrake and parts of Auchi in Edo North as the worst erosion sites in the state.
“We have taken inventory of all of these sites. Mr. President has approved the Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Programme, which is for five eastern states along with Cross River and Edo states. It’s going to be World-Bank funded. The board of directors of the World Bank approved $650m facility, but the issue is that there is a rift between the Presidency and the National Assembly.
“They have not been able to approve the national borrowing plan and until that plan is approved, none of the seven states can access the fund to begin to deal with the problem of erosion. Hopefully, if the national borrowing plan is approved, we should be able to get about $75m to $100m to begin to address the gully erosion problem,” Agba said.
The commissioner disclosed that the erosion menace in the state was not what the state government could shoulder alone.
“It is clearly beyond the capability of the state government. I mentioned that the design has been done; we had a study done by Sirajn Consultant and paid for by Setraco Nigeria Limited. The study showed that we need about N40 billion to deal with the gully erosion, but when we looked at the report, a substantial part of the gully erosion was not taken care of,” he explained.
The Ewu monarch while playing host to jounalists in his palace had lamented the havoc gully erosion had wreaked in his domain, saying that the menace had persisted for over 10 years, while several lives and hundreds of millions of naira have been lost to the erosion.
He disclosed that over 30 houses were under imminent threat of being washed away “anytime there is a substantially heavy rain.”