Kwoi earth tremors: Residents no longer at ease

The rocky town of Kwoi in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State was recently in the news when it experienced earth tremors which rendered many homeless, while business and commercial activities were grounded to a halt. The latest was on Tuesday September 20

Findings by Nigerian Tribune gathered that when the first tremor occurred on September 9, residents ran helter-skelter as they had never experience such in the history of the town. As a result of this, community leaders hurriedly informed state authorities of the development, to which the government acted promptly.  In a statement through the governor’s spokesman, Mr Samuel Aruwan, the government called on residents of the community, as well as those in other parts of the state to remain calm as the state government was on top of the situation. The statement read in part:

“The Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, sympathises with the people of Kwoi over the reported earth tremors. The governor has subsequently directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to mobilise to the area and comfort our citizens. The national geological agency has also been notified, and has been invited to investigate the tremors in the area, while providing appropriate guidance.

“The government is receiving updates from the area, while relevant government agencies have been directed to take steps towards comforting residents of the affected community, while assuaging their unease as they come to terms with an unusual unfortunate situation.

“The government, therefore, wishes to appeal for calm, urging everyone not to spread unverified information, or create panic.”

The following day, SEMA, under the leadership of Mr Ezekiel Baba Karik, visited the community in order to assess the level of damage caused by the tremors, and report back to the government.

Speaking with newsmen after assessing the damage, the SEMA boss dispelled the insinuation that several people lost their lives as a result of the tremor, adding that the community only suffered minimal damages.

However, while the residents were just coming to terms with the tremor, another one occurred on September 11. This time round, its effect was severe, as several houses were destroyed.

A tour by the North West management team of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Federal Government agency responsible for responding to emergencies, revealed that about 300 houses were affected as a result of the second tremor.

While speaking, its coordinator, Alhaji Musa Illalah, said the agency would inform the Federal Government of the situation, while saying geologists were already working round the clock to ascertain what caused the disaster.

Alhaji Illalah, therefore, charged residents of the community to remain calm, and report anything they notice to the relevant authorities. However, despite all the assurances by government, fear of the unknown has forced residents to flee the community, so as not to be trapped when deadlier tremors occur.

A farmer in the community, Bulus Bature, while admitting that he was no longer comfortable staying in Kwoi, said he had to relocate with his family to Zonkwowa.

Speaking on his experience, Bature said, on that fateful day, “everything was shaking, even the ground was shaking, and everybody ran out into the open so that buildings won’t collapse on us.

“These tremors have also affected business activities in the community, as business operators have abandoned their businesses and relocated to another community,” Bature said.

A Hausa trader from Kano who had been living in Kwoi for the past 30 years, Yakubu Yahaya, explained that he had decided to relocate his family back to Kano until everything returns to normal in the community.

According to Yahaya, most of the non-indigenes who are owners of flourishing businesses in the area had left, and as at today, Kwoi community is more or less like a ghost town.

It is so bad that popular restaurants, relaxation joints, hotels, private schools, among other businesses in the town have all closed. Even, commercial transport operators have also abandoned the community, refusing to transport commuters in and out of Kwoi.

Speaking in the same vein, an Igbo trader who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained that, the majority of business owners in the town were non-indigenes who had been in the town since the 1970s.

“It is so unfortunate that these tremors have brought about a situation whereby the people no longer feel comfortable in Kwoi, as no one knows what will happen next.

“I understand that tremors are minor earthquakes, but since we have experienced tremors, what happens when real earthquakes happen?

“We have been seeing the devastating effects of earthquakes in foreign countries, with hundreds of people dying. In fact, the recent earthquake in Italy claimed more than 200 lives, so what happens when that happens here?

“I think this is the reason why people are leaving this community in large numbers; nobody wants to experience such tremors any longer,” the Igbo trader said.

Meanwhile, preliminary results by geologists affirmed that what was initially presumed to be tremors were actually  earthquakes.  From the findings, it was discovered that the earthquakes were about 2.0 meters. Speaking on the development, the interim chairman of Jaba Local Government, Mr Ben Kure, confirmed the recent findings, saying that more tests were being carried out to ascertain what really happened. The local government boss asserted that the state government would do everything humanly possible to protect the lives of its citizens.