The EveAfrique Team took a little post Christmas trip to Tombia, in Degema Local Government Area, Rivers State on the 27th of December, 2018. The shores of this riverside village is found by the River Nun, a tributary of the River Niger.
On getting to the port packed with boatmen and traders, we boarded our boat and zoomed across the river to our destination.
The boat ride was a fun experience, from the speed of the boat to the feeling of the wind in your hair, everything felt glorious.
We passed by fishing ports and settlements which were located by the riverside shores; here is where most fishermen settle or bank after a hard day’s job.
We were able to tour a bit around the village of Tombia, which is full of old colonial homes & structures long abandoned. The interesting part was the walk to the beach side residence of our CEO’s father; Astoria Resort, built in the late 80’s.
The Astoria Resort is the first thing one really notices on approaching the village.
In order to build it, the area the resort occupies had to be dredged and sandfilled.This allowed for the construction of the resort on a man-made beach, right by the water and also provides a beautiful view of the river and the land, when one is inside the hotel looking out.
Astoria Resort was a well known tourist destination in the 80’s and 90’s ; an ideal venue for corporate bodies and industry leaders who gathered there for weekly meetings or official get-aways.
At the height of its glory, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), just before the upsurge of militant activities, made a proposition to the hotelier, Berepele Davies, JP, for the listing of the resort in the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Most of what led to the detour of the hotel from its former glory was the communal disagreement between Bukuma, a neighbouring village, and Tombia. The conflict was later to provide irrate youths who metamorpho into dangerous militant at the height of the Niger Delta crisis.
The first floor of the three-storey Astoria Resort sank after seventeen years due to the overflowing of the River Nun which caused massive flooding of the village. The hotel was inaccessible for seven years as a result of the hostile takeover by militants.
Attempts to renovate it failed when the building materials were highjacked by militants. It is now occupied by mostly criminals and some homeless persons.
Despite it’s state, it has become the ideal spot for the locals and visitors who make their way to the hotel’s beach side to enjoy the clean white sand and the freshness of the river.
The sun, the white sand, and the former glory of the abandoned hotel all added up to be the perfect way to end the year.
Compiled by KIlali James
Photography by Angel Etokakpan,
See photos below