OBONGI. The booming business, easy travels across the Nile to Acholi sub region and social amenities that brought happiness at Obongi landing site has become history as floods continue to ravage the areas and claim more land.
For two years now, floods have continued to extend towards Obongi town council after submerging several residential and temporary business premises, leading to economic hardships.
The one question that residents are now asking themselves “Is nature claiming what belongs to her through the floods after human interference?
What the Flood has done to people in Obongi since 2019
Flooding at Obongi landing site in Obongi town council started in April 2019 in what locals thought was the usual floods caused by heavy pour in upstream but today it has affected all the 6 sub counties of the district that lies along the River Nile and there is no sign that it’s about to cease.
In the past two years, the flood has displaced more that 3000 people across the district, stagnated operations of the Ferry and soon swallowing up the Riyadh Mosque and Obongi town council primary school.
Businesses at the landing site have been crippled due to the non-operational ferry as a result of the floods that have also submerged houses and destroyed crops.
Arua-Obongi via Adjumani to Juba used to be the shortest and preferred route for many travelers but now as a result of the floods, travelers have no choice but to go through Moyo.
The impact of the flood on the economic activities
Operational ferry made the route busy by connecting Acholi sub region to West Nile through Adjumani and West Nile to Acholi through Obongi landing site.
After the flooding, operation of the ferry has been suspended, travellers using the route have to use alternative routes like Laropi landing site in Moyo district to connect to Adjumani and Acholi sub region.
It was the constant flow of traffic on the ferry that boosted fish business and local hotel services at Obongi landing site.
What locals say
“We don’t get profits in our businesses. What will the government do for us in this flood? We are hopeless because sending our children back to school is becoming difficult”, Says Mr Kasim Ramadan, a fishmonger operating between Adjumani and Koboko districts.
Ms Christine Moriku is a local hotel operator at the landing site who took a loan from a Sacco group to do her business now says she is already facing challenges to repay her loan.
Meanwhile, Ms Aisha Candiru is one of the fishmongers whose house was submerged by the flood and has since sought for a temporary shelter in the town centre.
“My houses on both sides have been destroyed by the flood. This flood has made me become very poor. Government should help us by supporting us as victims of this flood”. Says Candiru.
Whereas, the Moslem community in Obongi have cried out for help in the relocation of the multimillion Riyadh Mosque which was constructed in 2018 with help from partners, they have not received any response but the water level keeps rising.
Responses from the leaders
The Forum for Democratic Change party president, Eng Patrick Amuriat Oboi recently visited the area in company of the former MP of Obongi county, Mr Kaps Hassan Fungaroo.
The two questioned government intervention in averting the rising water levels in the flood prone areas in Obongi.
Eng Amuriat called for government intervention through building dikes along the flood prone areas in Obingi in order to avoid its further negative impact.
“The people of Obongi have continued to suffer this! Trading is supposed to be going on here and this place is becoming a recipe for diseases as children play in the water. Our government would build dikes here to stop the flooding along the Nile and a dike can contain roads and business goes on” Eng Amuriat stated.
Mr Habib Buga Khemis, the Obongi district chairman, noted that lack of business at the landing site has affected revenue collection of the district.
He says Obongi district local government allocated about Shs 15million to help victims of the flood which he said was not enough to assist all victims. The revenue base of the district is about Shs 100million.
The chairman said there are plans to relocate the ferry to another nearby landing site as soon as possible as the district is in talks with Uganda National Roads Authority about the matter.