Residents of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital have raised alarm over the incessant vandalism and theft of manhole covers in major cities in the state, calling on the state government to put up measures that will aid the apprehension of the perpetrators.
Some residents who spoke with TNN urged the state government to replace the stolen manhole covers and save them from the heartbreak of losing a life in the unprotected manhole.
According to some, there is need to call leaders of various communities in the state to order and charge them with the responsibility of ensuring that vandalism of manhole is put to stop.
According to Mr. Chinedu Idika who trades at the first market junction in Eneka community, “This for me is very risky, very risky you know, it is not wise to overlook something like this, anybody can fall into it whether by mistake or not, both adults and especially children, this is not good at all.
“My sister, if anybody, be you whoever fall into this thing, you will just die there, the person will just die inside this thing, again there is water inside and the water is moving, the water will just carry the person away in seconds, before people will come to help, the person is gone.
Mr. Idika told TNN that “neglecting the danger associated by this open something is putting the lives of residents in jeopardy, so we are begging government to help us and cover it.”
Speaking of the importance of the manhole, a woman who introduced herself simply as Mrs. Ngozi said that “this manhole is created so that we that are walking on foot can use it and avoid walking on major road because of accidents.
“See, this thing is also very dangerous to health, it can give sickness, serious one, people sell food that people eat here, and this thing is smelling, if not for anything, for our health.”
Other residents expressed fear, saying that if a person mistakenly falls into the manhole it will be almost impossible to find the person talk more of bringing him or her out alive.
TNN was also with the Community Development Committee Chairman CDC, of Eneka clan in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Hon. Bestman Worlu. Here, he warned those involved in the theft of manhole cover, and those who patronize them to desist from the act.
Mr. Worlu while expressing sadness that most manhole covers along Eneka-Igwuruta and Eneka-Rumukwurushi road has been stolen, stressed that by damaging the manhole and carting away with the cover, lives of residents are been endangered.
According to him, “This reckless act of vandalizing manhole and carting away the covers must end, how can a normal human being, I mean a normal individual wilfully damage, destroy something that is meant to safeguard and prevent loss of lives.
“I’m shocked that people can carry-out this kind of inhuman act. Look at it again, those things were carefully mutilated, they are not wood, so some heartless individuals took their time in odd hours and defaced those manholes, and normal human beings who claims to have conscience are buying it from them.
“I want to appeal and warn that this reckless act be put to end. Its pedestrians walk way, anybody can fall into it, anybody, this is not fair, seriously, it’s heartbreaking.”
He further appealed to residents not to hesitate to raise alarm when they sight anyone defacing government properties or things put in place for general use.