The Forgotten Drainage System In Owerri

By Dozie Nwosu Okereke

It is quite disheartening, that over 99% Imo citizens and Owerri residents, are not aware there is a central drainage system in the entire Old & New Owerri, which is connected to a 12-feet high tunnel that stretched from Owerri municipal to Owerri West & North. The last administration that evacuated this all-important drainage, is Col. Tanko Zubairo’s regime in the days of military regime.

Since the inception of democratic government in 1999, Chief Achike Udenwa (eight years), Chief Ikedi Ohakim (four years), Mr. Rochas Okorocha (eight years), Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (just few days having been sworn in on May 29, 2019) have attempted to evacuate the tunnel. This is the main reason; many are not aware we have another city under the city we see in Owerri. I remember during our days in Holy Ghost College Owerri, we used to go to Nworie from one part of the tunnel to the other end of the city. If properly maintained, the issue of flood in Owerri anytime it rains will be a thing of the past because the tunnel empties the entire flood in Owerri into Nworie or Ota Mmiri.

If cleared, one can comfortably take an underground drive in an SUV from Government House Junction, to Emmanuel college. Anybody who knows and stayed in Owerri in the early 90’s, will still remember how flood water that is ravaging Owerri usually disappears after heavy downpour. Then, flood water disappeared like magic. Thanks to the late former governor Sam Mbakwe who constructed the famous Owerri channel, which had been abandoned. Around the World Bank too, I am sure you noticed, a canal like division between on the dual lane.

That is indeed the second layer of the underground tunnel Mbakwe built in Imo state. That surface canal, disappears into the 3rd layer drainage, which is the tunnel, at exactly World Bank roundabout and Assumpta Cathedral Roundabout. I still have the design of Owerri drainage in my mind’s bank, we really explored that drainage then as teenagers, as it was such an art and something one can only imagine then. The gutters we see around Ikenegbu, Douglas and other places in Owerri, is just a 1st stage, which it’s only work is to collect the waters, separate the sands at the second interchange, and allow waters to drop into the second stage drainage, which always has a manhole covered with metal. That spot is about 10 feet below the road and it does the final separation of sand and water, before evacuating into the 12 X 12 feet tunnel underground, which then heads straight to Nworie and Otammiri streams.

The gutter outside, was meant to be cleaned once every month, which was how sanitation started in Nigeria (as Dee Sam was doing and Owerri won the cleanest city in Nigeria). The second stage was meant to be cleaned every 12 months, while the tunnel is cleaned biannually. But, for over 20 years now, nobody has cleaned the 2nd stage, not to talk of the 3rd stage drainage in Owerri. I wonder, if all these past leaders were never aware of this drainage built by Dee Sam, or is it that they are so myopic in reasoning, to remember it’s monthly, annual and biannual cleaning? Or are they actually ignorant of the existence of this drainage tunnel?

Well, I have decided to bring this up because Governor Emeka Ihedioha, unlike other have the opportunity to revert to status quo and watch the drainage issue of Owerri disappear like a mirage. Owerri has a master plan; let Ihedioha go back to it.

Okereke, a concerned citizen wrote in from Owerri

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