Seven years after the Federal Government put a stop to coal mining, some communities in Enugu State are now living in fear as disused mines have begun collapsing, causing landslides and endangering life and property.
It was gathered that the Federal Government, while hurriedly undertaking the closure of the mines in 2014, did so without recourse to international best practices where props are used to support disused mines from caving in.
The development, therefore, left the mines to the vagaries of nature. The affected places include Ebe, Nsude, Nachi and Umulumgbe, all in Udi Local Government Council. They are now faced with serious environmental degradation, as farmlands have been swallowed up by galloping erosion threatening the abode of residents.
It was gathered, recently, that a large swath of land measuring about nine kilometers in length caved–in at Nsude swallowing farmland and economic trees.
Investigation revealed that the Federal Government started excavating coal from the underbelly of Enugu in 1933. Three underground mines – Onyema, Okpara and Ribadu – existed in the state.
After the Civil War of 1967-70, some of the mines were already in a poor state. With the discovery of petroleum and gas in large quantities, coal mining was no longer given attention, leading to its stoppage during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chief Anthony Ude, Chairman, Umuaka Community, Nsude in Udi, said at the weekend: “Each time we go to the farm, you will discover that a large chunk has been swallowed up. The last one happened last year. It did not kill anybody. It is usually a challenge for our people during the rainy season.”
Ude, who put the resultant loss experienced by the community at over a billion naira, said they were more worried “because the distance between where we live and the areas that have been taken over are not far.”
He urged the Federal Government to help the community “to save the remaining areas. We don’t have anywhere else to build or live in.”
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