8 pupils, pregnant woman drown in Akwa Ibom


A small river known as Atang River in Nsit Atai local government area of Akwa Ibom State has con­sumed eight pupils and a pregnant woman, who were trying to negotiate the wooden bridge con­structed over it.

The eight pupils were said to have returned from a primary school in their village known as Ikot Abia-Enyie but perished in the river, which volume had increased due to heavy rains that fell between the morning and afternoon on that fateful day.

The river is said to have cut the village into two; with all the facilities in the area – a health centre, a pri­mary school and a second­ary school, located at one side of the river, while the other section is left with only the residential houses forcing the inhabitants to make the deadly journey each time they need to ac­cess medical and health facilities.

The chairman of the vil­lage council, Chief Etop Umanah, said that the pu­pils drowned in the water following the downpour which led to the river overflowing its bank.

Umana said, it has now become a tradition for par­ents and husbands to wait at the bank of the river for their children and wives to cross the river to the other side so as to prevent a re­currence of the tragedies.

He revealed that in the preceding year, three pu­pils and a pregnant woman died in the same river. The pupils, he noted, were re­turning home from school, while the pregnant woman was on 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 school 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 state Commissioner for Rural Development, Mr. Ekong Sampson, told journalists that the Akwa Ibom State Government was ready to end not only the pupils’ death, but also all the deaths associated with Atang River.

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

“That is why I have per­sonally chosen to come here. 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 preview of their problems.” he said.

culled from THE SUN

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