A widow, Mrs Isu Esebonu Ebei miraculously escaped death while celebrating her 60th birthday after an over 30 years soakaway, used by building maintenance department attached to the Federal Secretariat, located along the popular Murtala Mohammed Highway, Diamond Hill Calabar, gave way under her.
aid the underground structure, which was without a cover or chamber almost claimed her life when she passed through her backdoor to dispose refuse in her compound.
Recounting her ordeal, the widow and mother of five told LEADERSHIP Weekend that, “I have lived in this apartment for 10 years with my kids and grandchildren but never knew there was a soakaway on this plain ground. In fact, my kids sleep in this place on daily basis. As you can see, I have my own soakaway which I maintain very well.
“Even my landlord was shocked when I called to tell him about my experience. He specifically told me that he stayed in the apartment for 10 years without knowing that such soakaway existed behind my kitchen door.”
The 60-year-old widow averred that after she returned from market and began preparing meals that she would serve her guest, “I packed the refuse from my kitchen and made my way to deposit it into the dustbin which was on the right flank some metres away from the kitchen, close to my apartment.
“To my greatest chagrin, I almost sank into the soakaway pit which was covered only with sand. Immediately I stepped out of my kitchen, I heard a shattering noise and immediately felt as if I was sinking into the ground. Immediately, I screamed out and my nephew came to my rescue. It was just God at work. I sustained minor injuries from this ugly incident.”
When asked what she had done to salvage the horrific situation, the 60 year-old retired nurse, despite not being paid her gratuity, said she requested a short-term loan from trust units operating within Calabar metropolis to get the damaged soakaway fixed in a bid to safeguard her family from what she described as a death trap.
She appealed to Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja, as well as controller of the Calabar Federal Secretariat, whom she tried severally to meet without success to respond positively by offsetting her the loan used in rehabilitating the place and thus, save her embarrassment of being harassed by her creditors.
Reacting to the incident, the controller of the Federal Secretariat, Calabar, Engr Eziwu Patrick who acknowledged that the premises where the soakaway pit exists used to be a former engineering/ technical unit attached to the secretariat, said it has since been sold to private individuals.