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Ajegunle residents lament disaster, insecurity, neglect

By Jesutomi Akomolafe
21 April 2022   |   4:12 am
Residents of Ajegunle, a Lagos community with over 1.5 million population, are lamenting neglect and lack of amenities, saying disaster looms if nothing urgent is done to address the situation.

An elderly woman in a canoe in Ajegunle community. PHOTO: JESUTOMI AKOMOLAFE

Residents of Ajegunle, a Lagos community with over 1.5 million population, are lamenting neglect and lack of amenities, saying disaster looms if nothing urgent is done to address the situation.
     
The community located in Kosofe Local Council was known for rascality and hooliganism, even though its name depicts “where riches dwells.”
 
Ajegunle community has only one tarred street, over 100 untarred others.
 


These streets lack proper drainage, medians, walkways and streetlights, unlike those in neighbouring communities, like Surulere, Lagos Mainland, Apapa and Lagos Island.
      
A visit by The Guardian on Tuesday revealed a sorry tale of a community, whose residents have resorted to fate, because of years of neglect.
 
During the visit, the only tarred street is called Zion Street, while other major roads were unkept.
 
The community is also one of Lagos flood-prone areas that suffer each time Oyan Dam is opened.
  
A resident, Adebiyi Banjo, lamented that properties were damaged when his apartment was flooded during the last rain.  
 
He said: “Currently we live in fear of the unknown. Any time, it rains, especially at night, we may just be swept away and that’s death.”
   
Besides flooding, the community lacks potable water as residents still paddle canoes in search of water as it was in the 80s.
 
Despite reports of starvation and health issues in the community, residents have been left to fate as they constantly struggle to gain attention of well-meaning Nigerians for survival.
  
Chairman, Ajegunle Community Development Area (CDA), Mr. Sunday Awobona, said the community lacked potable water for decades without government intervention.
 
According to him, the major challenge in the community is water.
 

“We don’t have water to drink and we wonder if we have a government. We only depend on vendors for potable water, which goes for N100 for a keg of 25 litres.
 
“How do we cope with that and this is a community that has government officials. This is Lagos State not anywhere else?” he said.
 
Beyond the issue of water, access to healthcare has remained a challenge.
   
According to the residents, the Ajegunle Health Centre, located on Omo West Close, Ajegunle, is the only health facility created to serve 1.5 million residents.
   
A visit to the facility showed that only six medical personnel are stationed in the clinic and they work between 8:00a.m. and 4:00p.m.
  
The Baale of Ajegunle Community, Chief Moyosore Oladunjoye, lamented that the health centre is not well equipped and has no drugs.
    
A recent investigation by Lagos Urban Studies Group of University of Lagos, in conjunction with the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation and Shantytown Empowerment Foundation (SHEF), revealed that only 29.4 per cent of residents visit healthcare centres when ill.
    
The research conducted with support of COVID-19 African Rapid Grant Fund was carried out in Ajegunle and other communities in Lagos State.  
  
The study headed by principal investigator and lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Dr. Peter Elias, revealed that during the lockdown in 2020 majority of residents, who reported malaria as the most common illness, depended on self medication.

MEANWHILE, communication expert, Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika of the University of Lagos has urged community members to use all means of communication to amplify their yearnings to foster development in the area.
 
“People who live in the Ajegunle community do not have access to decent and quality housing and generally cannot access basic services such as water and sanitation, which is critical to disease prevention.
  
She advised stakeholders and political office holders to embark on development projects that involve the community and not necessarily taking decisions without visiting the slums and rural areas.

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