Life Ended Tragically For Eight Pupils Who Drowned In A River On Their Way From School
For the distraught families whose children were among the eight children whose whereabouts could not be ascertained, tears and sorrows have enveloped their homes.
The UNION gathered the unfortunate children were pupils who were returning from a primary school in Ikot Abia- Enyie in Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, but perished in Atang River on their way from the school.
The river, according local residents, divides Ikot Abia- Enyie village into two; with all facilities in the area including a health centre, a primary and a secondary school, located on the other side of the river.
Chairman of the village council, Chief Etop Umanah, who conducted newsmen round the area at the weekend, said the pupils drowned in the river following a downpour which led to an overflow.
He stated that “it is the custom of the village to wait for the pupils and women at the bank of the river during the schools’ closing hours whenever there was downpour”. The monarch lamented that “it is unfortunate that before the men from the village could get to the river to rescue the pupils, the water had already carried them away”, adding that their corpses were recovered three days after.
He recalled that in the preceding year, three pupils and a pregnant woman died in the same river, explaining that “as the pupils tried to come back from school, the pregnant woman was trying to make her way back from the health centre before she met her untimely death in the river”.
“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 into two 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.
Akwa Ibom 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 all deaths associated with Atang River”.
According to him, it pained the government to see Akwa Ibom children perish in the river assuring the people that government would embark on remedial measures to end the carnage before work begins on a major bridge.
He said: “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 purview 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.”
-Iniobong Ekponta, Uyo