Eight pupils drown in Akwa Ibom flood

FOLLOWING a heavy downpour, which caused the Ating River in Nsit Atai Local Council of Akwa Ibom State to overflow its bank, eight pupils, who were returning from school have lost their lives.

The pupils, according to the Chairman of the village council, Chief Etop Williams Umanah, were unable to identify the overflow, which had already partitioned the village into two.

The river is said to have partitioned Ikot Abia-Enyie village into two, with all the facilities in the area: a health centre, a primary and secondary school, located on the other side of the river.

Chief Etop Umanah, who conducted newsmen round the area on Friday, said it was customary for the villagers to wait for the pupils and women at the bank of the river during the schools’ closing hours whenever there was a downpour, but on this fateful day, such precautionary measure was not taken.

He noted that it was unfortunate that before the men from the village could get to the river to rescue the pupils, the water had already carried them away, lamenting that their corpses were recovered three days after.

According to him, in the preceding year, three pupils and a pregnant woman died in the same river, noting that the pupils were also coming back from school while the pregnant woman was trying to make her way back from the health centre.

“This village, Abia-Enyie lost eight children to Atang River this year as they were returning from school following a downpour, which aided the river to overflow its bank. Last year, we lost three pupils and a pregnant woman in the same manner.”

“The village is one village; it is split by this river. All the facilities of this village – a health centre, a primary and a secondary school are all sited at the other side of the river. We cannot stop the children from going to school,” he said.

The Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr. Ekong Sampson, said the Akwa Ibom State government was ready to not only end pupils’ deaths, but all the deaths associated with Atang River.

According to him, it pained the government to see Akwa Ibom children perishing in a river as he assured the people that government would
embark on remedial measures to end the carnage before work on the bridge was started and completed.

“That is why I have chosen to come here by myself. I am really touched by what I have seen. We will make every effort to ensure that infrastructure is brought to this community and to every other rural space in the state. And our approach is to go there and see things by ourselves in order to have a first-hand knowledge of their problems.

“The state government is committed to transforming our rural space because we all come from villages. The state government is committed to recreating the villages; we are committed to making lives better for those who live in our villages. We shall give government an update about what we have seen here,” he added.

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