In The News
Nigerian Community where indigenes carry bodies on their heads to mortuary
Over the years, residents of Obinetiti Nzerem Autonomous community in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State have suffered negligence and abandonment.
Regarded as one of the food baskets of the state, the community is ranked as one of the largest producers of garri, palm oil, yam and cassava even as many of its sons and daughters are thriving in different parts of the globe.
But the absence of infrastructure is all too evident in the community that has produced two secretaries to the state government and many lawmakers.
Their poor condition is accentuated by the fact that inhabitants of the agrarian community cannot move their produce to the urban markets because of the terrible state of their roads and absolute lack of government presence.
A common experience is the very slippery clay and muddy roads around the community. Other bizzare sights include the villagers constructing ridges on the roads to allow quick flow of muddy water to enable them access their homes and farmlands.
Youths of the predominantly Christian community now have to trek long distances to the mortuary in other communities carrying the bodies on their deceased loved ones on their heads to the mortuary because ambulances and vehicles do not have assess to the community.
Narrating their ordeal to The Nation, the residents said that for 52 years, no ambulance or vehicle had entered their community to carry a corpse as all the roads leading to the community have been destroyed by erosion.
They said they have had to carry those who are sick on their backs for miles before they could get a vehicle to take them to the hospital, adding that on several occasions the sick people being assisted died on the way to the hospital.
Investigation revealed that teachers deployed in their primary and secondary schools often decline working in the community. Thus their children are left with no choice but to trek to neighbouring communities to acquire education.
It was gathered that the only secondary school in the community, Model Secondary School, Dioka Nzerem, has since shut down, with the premises overtaken by weeds.
The Reverend Father in charge of Holy Trinity Parish Obinetiti Nzerem Ehime Mbano, Fr Chukwuma C. Chukwuma, said: “Indigenes have been suffering in this community after the war because of the terrible nature of their abandoned road.
“Ambulances can’t come into their community to carry their dead ones. They strongly believe in giving a departed Christian burial and as such they must prepare for the burial of their loved one.
“So for the people of Obinetiti Dioka Nzerem to do the needful, they must carry their dead ones to another nearby community that is fortunate to have its roads tarred.
“It may interest you to know that all the bordering communities have their roads tarred to a certain extent. The nearby communities are Umunumo, Agbaja, and Nsu.”
He said that the people have made series of efforts to get the government to tar their road but their efforts continued to hit a brick wall.
A leader of the community who gave his name as Chief Alex Okoro told our correspondent that their road plight had caused a lot of demage.
“It has affected our children’s education and social life. No teacher in the primary and secondary schools accepts to work in the community.
“Under the rain, we carry our dead ones to and fro the mortuary. We have lost many of our parents who could not access hospital on time. Many of their sick are carried on their backs for miles before they could get access to hospital services. In many instances they die on the way.”
He remarked that education rate in their community had gone as low as 30 per cent. “The youths end up learning trade or in child slavery. They are locked up in their community from May to November before they could access their clay road.”
One of the youths told our correspondent that they had just returned from the mortuary where they went to deposit the body of their mother, Ezinne Martha Alionu.
“We have resolved that no election will take place in Obinetiti until the government of Hope Uzodimma comes to our rescue,” he said
Contacted, the Commissioner for Works, Ralph Nwosu, said: “As at the last count, Ehime Mbano has a house member, SGF and other appointees. They know how to have their projects in the appropriation law as a first step towards construction.
Several attempts were made to reach the lawmaker representing Ehime Mbano in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Anthony Nduka, but he did not pick his calls.