Gafaru: Lagos street burdened by erosion
• How 13-year-old Esther lost arm to erosion
• Residents abandon shops, houses for safety
These not the best of times for residents in Gafaru Street, Ikotun, a Lagos suburb in Alimosho Local Council, following the menace of erosion, which has taken over the entire area.
For the hapless residents, the fear of the rainy season is the beginning of wisdom, as many have abandoned their homes for fear of being swept off by flood, especially at night.
Those who remain are counting their losses, which left them with horrendous tales. Investigation revealed that the major cause of the residents’ nightmare was the diversion of flood water from neighbouring Ijegun, Abaranje and Onikotun roads, which were completed during the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.
Lamenting her experience, 13-year-old erosion victim, Esther Olarenwaju, who lost her right arm told The Guardian that she lost her right arm after she slipped and fell into one of the gullies in June 2019 on her way to buy sachet water.
Esther, who lives with her 70-year-old grandmother, said: “When I was coming back, it was raining. So, when I tried to get into the house, I slipped off and fell inside one of the holes on the street. Before the flood would take me away, some boys came to rescue me, but I could not feel my right arm again. After I was rescued, my bones were broken into pieces and the hand was dangling with scattered flesh.
“I was taken to a bone setter. He tried to fix the bones but failed.
“I was quickly rushed to Igando General hospital by my grandmother. When we got there, the doctors said there was nothing they could do other than to sever the arm. My grandma looked for money to pay for the surgery.”
Her grandmother, Mrs. Adiatu Obalanlejo said some persons, including adults and children had been swept away by flood. Lamenting that government had abandoned the street, the 70-year-old Mrs. Adiatu recalled a recent incident, involving a primary school pupil, who was swept into a nearby canal, while returning from school.
According to her, the pupil was eventually rescued in another community with injuries. She said: “This road has been abandoned in this state for many years. Whenever the clouds gather and show signs of rain, we all will run to our children’s various schools to bring them back before it starts raining. The flood has swept several people away. There was an incident that occurred where the flood swept a child away.”
“We found the child at Isheri Osun, another community entirely. The little boy was sent out of school for school fees while it was raining. As soon as he got to this street and was trying to find his way around the potholes, he was carried away. This happened in 2019. When we saw the child, he was in a bad state with injuries. Such similar incidents have been occurring, God has been helping our youths to rescue the victims.”
Describing the state of the street during rains, a landlord, Bimbo Ajibade, who has been living in the area for over 45 years, said the street is like an ocean when it rains and has been abandoned for over 20 years. She added that able-bodied men are always on standby whenever it rains for rescue missions.
She said: “ This road was like this when they repaired Ijegun road. During the construction, they diverted the flood from Ijegun road to the area. They promised us that they will fix this road. But it has been abandoned ever since. The entire flood from Ijegun and its environs flows through our houses. This street leads to Agodo. The flood here has caused a lot of havoc to us.
“About five years ago, some children were sent out of school because they could not pay school fees, on their way back, it rained and swept two of them away here at Gafaru Street. We are pleading with government to help us repair Gafaru Street. We do not have rest of mind. Our houses are usually submerged and water always destroys our properties. It is always like the whole house is sinking when it rains at night.”
Some landlords, who spoke to The Guardian, also lamented that most of their apartments are vacant, while tenants have refused to pay for occupied ones. Some of the tenants, they said, are owing for up to three years. They identified the deplorable state of the street as a major cause of low patronage.
One of the landlords, Iya Afin Adeyeye, said rent for two – three bedroom flats have been reduced to N120, 000 per annum, while a room goes for N2, 500 per month to attract tenants, but lamented that prospective tenants always take to their heels when agents bring them there.
Mrs. Adeyeye said: “People don’t come here to rent houses any more. Most of our houses have been abandoned with rooftops removed because no one wants to come here. Some said they are afraid because they don’t want the flood to sweep them away.”
Contacted, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye, refused to comment on the matter, on the guise that she does not entertain interviews on the phone.