Fear of flood heightens as rains begin
Though the late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, years ago, sang Water no get enemy, there is today a community in Lagos where water is an archenemy. In fact, in that community, the song on everybody’s lips is Rain! Rain! Go away, come back another day!
The community is the Orile-Agege community, comprising the streets of Oko-Oba, Alaramimo, Alexandra, Egbatedo, Adelekan, Shoritire Close and Egbatedo in Orile Agege Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
The area is a sprawling settlement, which spreads through a deep valley in the belly of Agege. It has a canal that stretches from Ota in Ogun State. Much of the water channels from Agege and some parts of Ikeja, all converge at Arigbanla Street, to make the area a watershed.
Last week’s downpour left many residents of the area in tears as the overflowing Arigbanla Canal, which was recently reconstructed by the Lagos State government, flooded the surrounding streets and destroyed property, including cars, valued at millions of Naira.
The rain, which started in the early hours of the day, gave affected residents no notice to move their belongings from harm’s way.
Other areas worst hit by flood on the Lagos Mainland include Aboru, Egbeda, Abesan, Ayobo, Abule-Egba and Akowonjo road.
Mr. Dimowo Khaleel, a teacher in Community Grammar School, Aboru, complained about the state of the school during the rainy season.
He said: “Whenever it rains in this community, most schools go on compulsory holiday for about a week or two in order for the flood to dry up in the school premises.
“This has been the situation every year but we are hoping that the state government will come to our aid this time, as the rainy season is around the corner. But from the look of things, there is no evidence whatsoever that the situation will change this year as nothing has been put in place to mitigate the flood this year.”
A landlord in Akinyoola Street, Egbeda, Mr. Akinyoola Gbenga, sharing his experience on the perennial flooding, said: “Whenever it rains, the whole street is usually flooded and my house is always filled up with flood such that every occupant would pack out for about a month.
“This has made it difficult for me to keep any tenant as most of them usually demand a refund when they discover that the area is flood-prone.”
Having tried all available options, including reconstruction of inner-city roads with adequate drainage facility, canal dredging and drainage clearing through the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Works, the state government has resorted to awareness campaign to sensitize Lagosians on some behavioral changes for a safer and cleaner Lagos.
Speaking during his visit to inspect Papa-Ashafa community in Agege, at the weekend, following a rainstorm that damaged property in the area, Governor Babatunde Fashola, appealed to residents to take control of their refuse and desist from dumping them into the gutters.
“You must bag your refuse, don’t dump them in the drains, they would constrict the drains that we have built and when there is a heavy downpour, if the water does not find where to go, it would come to the road and into your homes. We can avoid that and we should,” he said.
The poor state of Lagos drains and canals could be worsened in the months ahead after a Federal High Court in Lagos recently declared as unlawful the restriction of citizens’ movement during the monthly environmental sanitation exercise.
Justice Mohammed Idris, in the verdict had disclosed that such restriction of movement, in the name of sanitation, amounted to a violation of the citizens’ right to personal liberty and freedom of movement protected by sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution on Lagos environmental sanitation exercise.
He therefore voided the power of the Lagos State government and its agent to arrest any citizen found moving between 7am and 10am on the last Saturday of every month when the environmental sanitation exercise is usually observed.