The Orogodo River some decades back used to be a cynosure of natural ambiance and serenity. It served as a recreational getaway for those who wished to take a break from the heat of the scorching sun to cool off in its clear waters. It was also home to a diversity of aquatic life and fishes through which many fishermen in the area made their livelihoods. Flowing across Ika South and Ika North East Local Government Areas, its once clear waters and steady currents resonated a low pitch that could be likened to the sound of a light down pour on a rooftop.
This once natural endowment of the Ika nation has apparently lost its former glory and been relegated to a mere reservoir of waste water, having gradually become highly silted and polluted due to the combined unwholesome activities of residents and businesses living and operating in the area and total negligence on the part of the government.
It is now a common sight to behold where residents, especially in the Boji-Boji metropolis, on the occasion of a heavy downpour, take out their household refuse and dump them into the roadside culverts to be carried off by the running waters and deposited in the Orogodo River which serves as the main flood outlet in the area. This unhealthy trend has gone on unchecked for many years and has inadvertently become a norm to the people with the resultant pollution and silting of the river which has led to a sharp decline of aquatic life in the river.
More worrisome is the presence of animal abattoirs (donkey) by the bank of the river, where all sorts of waste matter and vermin from the animals are indiscriminately dumped. The level of filth and effluvium generated by these businesses has in no small measure facilitated in turning the once clear waters of Orogodo River into a turbid and murky wasteland.
One wonders why the Local Government Councils, especially their Departments of Environment have turned a blind eye to the potential health and environmental hazards these businesses cause to the natural ecosystem and the human population that dwells in that area. The offensive and nauseating odour which emanates from them should have spurred the authorities to take necessary actions to curb the menace, as residents residing in this area have continued to wallow in silence.
However, it is not all gloom, as the Delta State government led by His Excellency; Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa through the Ministry of Environment has embarked on the dredging of the river this past week. The dredging project which has been earmarked to turn the Orogodo River to a major waterway has been applauded by all and sundry and is believed will bring the long awaited respite to residents of the area.
It is pertinent to note that the dredging of the Orogodo River, no matter how commendable cannot stand the test of time if the fundamental issues accruing to the silting of the river are not clinically addressed.
First and foremost, strict sanctions should be imposed on the owners of the riverside abattoirs as a way of enforcing compliance to better sanitary standards. Or better still, the Local Government could relocate them and their businesses to a more suitable location far away from the river to forestall the continual contamination of the Orogodo River.
Also, there must be an all reaching re-orientation campaign to sensitize the public on the evils of indiscriminate waste disposal and its effects on the environment and after which, a better and more effective waste disposal mechanism should be introduced to adequately collect and manage waste in the area.
Furthermore, strict sanctions should also be imposed on anyone caught indiscriminately disposing off refuse in culverts to act as deterrents to others. A Task Force of sorts should be formed, with members stationed at strategic locations around town to actively ensure strict compliance to the new waste disposal regime and to also apprehend defaulters.
It is our hope that with the dredging and implementation of the above mentioned suggestions, Orogodo River may once more regain its lost glory and splendor as the natural oasis of Ika nation.