Flooding from Oyan Dam: Isheri residents lament loss of lives, property, crippling of business activities
Residents of Isheri community along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have lamented the colossal loss of lives and property in their community, caused by the lackadaisical attitude of Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) under the Federal Government.
The residents alleged that OORBDA has turned the Oyan Dam installed with three turbines for the purpose of generating electricity and commissioned by the government of late President Shehu Shagari in 1983 to a fishpond, which has led to flooding in the area.
They lamented that while the community has lost lives and property, and have been sacked from their homes and businesses among others, the country is also at a loss in terms of economic values.
Chairman, Riverview Estate Residents and Stakeholders’ Association, Abayomi Akinde, added that at the time the dam was commissioned, three turbines each rated at 3MW of power for a total of 9MW of power were installed in the dam.
“These turbines have not been used since that time. If the turbines were in use, they would require about 2 million cubic meters of water each day to drive them. The reservoir capacity is 270 million cu.m and one can easily see that if there were no water coming into the reservoir, it would empty in about 130 days.
“The total average run-off from the catchment area of the reservoir is estimated at 822.2million cu.m. per year and if we take 2million cu.m. per day from this we can see that the reservoir would not fill up and releases of huge volumes of water would not be necessary.”
He added that instead of releasing water from the dam between November and July as agreed by all stakeholders at a 2017 summit, “the OORBDA has refused to do so because it was (allegedly) operating the reservoir which generates huge profit for the organisation.”
“A two-day stakeholders summit was organised by the Lagos State Government on May 15-16, 2017. The summit addressed the subject of the negative impacts of flooding of the Ogun River on adjoining towns and villages in Lagos State. The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the summit stated amongst other things that the OORBDA should strive to exploit the best practices in the monitoring of Oyan Dam to stem the tide of flooding in the affected communities in Lagos State as enjoyed in the 1990s.
“The OORBDA has ignored this recommendation and there was flooding in 2018 in the communities along the River Ogun and in 2019 a greater area than the previous year is under floodwaters.
He added that the late Chief S.O Fadaunsi in his book, Reflections on the Events of My Life, on pages 180 and 181, indicated that the initial design of Oyan Dam was to store water for supply to Abeokuta township and to the Lagos State Water Corporation and that the dam’s height was subsequently increased to its present height of 30.4m, first to accommodate water for irrigation and next for incorporation of turbines for 9mw power generation.
“As it happens, Chief Fadaunsi’s son, Engr Tolu Fadaunsi held the position of Managing Director at OORBDA in the 2000’s at which time the communities remained flood-free. So, there are people available who can testify that Oyan Dam reservoir can be operated without causing floods in Lagos and Ogun states,” he added.
They also described as untrue the OORBDA’s statement that the flooding was partly a result of climate change that had resulted into exceptionally high and prolonged rainfall experienced nationwide and had forced the Lagos Lagoon water level to rise and spread into the flood-prone areas of Ogun River.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, OORBDA, Olufemi Odumosu, had in a statement on October 21 said the identified flood plains had “continuously been taken over by property developers who built residential estates indiscriminately and recklessly in the areas out of ignorance or sheer underestimation of the devastating effects of flooding, causing obstruction to the natural free flow pathways of water.”
He added: “In fact, some of the project coverage areas being used for wetlands agricultural development have been encroached upon by the menace of land grabbers at Owiwi, Oyan Dam, Itoikin, Igan Alade and Middle Ogun projects.”
But, the Isheri community residents, whose properties had been flooded by the release of water from the Oyan Dam, faulted OORBDA’s position, saying Lagos and Ogun State governments sold the land to them backed with evidence.
Akinde further laments: “The economic implications of bad management of the dam are enormous. Looking at the OORBDA specifically, an upscale private secondary school, Nigeria Turkish International College has been closed for the past five weeks, as I speak, it is yet to reopen. A Chinese company, Golden Silk International that employs over 200 staff members has been shut for over four weeks now.
“A company that manufactures baby diapers whose name I cannot immediately remember has also shut down. Lasena Waters that also has over 100 staff members just resumed operations this week, it was shut for three weeks. A lot of residents have spent fortunes on alternative accommodation that otherwise would have been used to better their lives during the crisis. Many students couldn’t attend school during the period as some other schools were equally shut. A lot of our people remain unproductive during the crisis, as it was difficult to concentrate at their places of work.”
A property owner, Dr. Akintola, urged the government to consider the plight of the people and compel the OORBDA to act on the recommendations of the 2017 summit.
He said: “The dam is supposed to generate power and if they generate power, they will release 2million cubit meters a day, but they are never going to do that, so the alternative is what was done between 1992 and 2002, that is, they released water from the dam in November, December, January February, March April, May, June, and July and shut the gate in August, September, and October. There will be no flooding because, during that period, it is only the water coming along the Ogun River from Iseyin area that is now getting to Lagos, the water from Oyam Dam is held back, and there will be no flood.”
Another resident, Mrs. Abayomi Akinde, said: “Many businesses have been closed. There are lots of companies that have landed around this axis but they could not develop it because of the challenges we are facing. If the government has the will to solve the problem we are facing it would translate into economic benefits to both Ogun and Lagos states.”
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