Rain, Rain Go Away…
“THE sky looks misty and cloudy. Looks like rain gonna fall today. This morning I have been soaked in mercy. Waiting for the rain to drop the water… send down the rain…to water up my seed yeah,” sang Majek Fashek, the root reggae artiste that dominated the Nigerian music space in his days in 1997, when he released his popular album titled Rainmaker. At that time, many Nigerians had identified with the song, as the lyrics highlighted the beauty of this season, which usually heralds the awakening of nature.
Today, however, that song is not likely to elicit the same response from residents of many coastal cities such as Lagos. Indeed, the reverse is the case, as the rainy season has turned out to be an irritant, which only reminds residents of floods and the disaster they bring in their trail.
Curiously, most people, especially in Lagos seem to quickly forget the pains floods bring as soon as the rainy season is over. They immediately return to their dirty habits and old ways of doing things, which inevitably lead to flooding.
Last week’s rain was a baptism of fire for some Lagosians, whose areas became flooded after the torrential rain. The downpour had raged, ravaging everything in its path, as well as causing traffic gridlock on major roads, which made some of them impassable for days.
It is a known fact that some parts of Lagos State such as Ajegunle, Owode-Onirin, Owode-Elede, Kuramo Beach, Alpha Beach, Okun-Mapo, Okun Ajah, Mende-Maryland, Ijora-Badia and Iwaya among others are below sea level. So, government often admonishes residents in these areas to be mindful of how they dispose their refuse and treat their environment generally. Sometimes, this goes so far that they are urged to vacate their homes whenever they notice a rise in the water level. Notwithstanding, many of them still turn deaf ears to these warnings.
And from the way they carry on with their daily activities unperturbed, it seems as if they have the magic wand to halt the threatening danger their unhygienic habits pose. It is somewhat baffling that despite painful past experiences, which were usually accompanied by heavy human and material losses, the people still find it difficult to comply with simple rules to avoid a repeat.
But this damage is not restricted to Lagos alone, as The Guardian gathered that similar negative occurrences are experienced in Ogun State and other states that share the same coastline with Lagos.
Since this problem is totally avoidable, the pertinent questions to ask are: Why do Nigerians find it hard to learn from past mistakes? And how prepared are we for the coming rains?
Interestingly, Nigerians are not prepared in the least for the rains. The canals are blocked with all manner of rubbish ranging from empty water bottles to pure water sachet and such other filth. All this constitutes an obstruction to the free flow of water, thereby diverting rainwater to the streets and any other open space.
Last year, Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello said: “With the newly constructed and de-silted drainage channels, no major flooding would be experienced across the state and whatever flashfloods are recorded during the rains will gradually be discharged in less than 24 hours.” The commissioner, therefore, advised people residing along flood plains and low line areas to consider temporary relocation during heavy downpour to avert disaster. But is anyone listening?
In Akeem Amusa’s view, though the government is trying, there is still much room for improvement. Said he:
“Lagos State government is trying, but they should not wait until the rains come before trying to de-silt major canals. And each time they de-silt the canals, they should remove the debris on time so that they do not find their ways back into the canals.”
Using Surulere, where he lives as an example, Amusa explained that part of the residents’ efforts at preparing for the rains is to ensure that the gutters are cleared through strict adherence to the monthly environmental sanitation. They also clean the streets as frequently as possible for hygiene. He said Lagosians need to observe the monthly exercise as well as desist from turning the canals into dumping grounds.
Hafis Balogun, an architect believed that Lagosians are not prepared for the rains.
“With what happened last week, when the rain that did not last up to an hour caused so much damage in some parts of the state such as Egbeda, it truly shows we are not prepared. You can see that the drainage of some streets have been completely blocked with sand or refuse and need to be reopened for the passage of rain water. But with what is happening now, we all have to wait till election is over, because government is presently engrossed in campaigns and I’m not sure there is much fund for any major project.”
Commending the efforts of Landlords/Residents Development Associations, Balogun noted that because government seems to be on recess, landlords and tenants of Iyana Sasi area of Lagos, where he resides, have resorted to contributing money to check flooding in their area and to also construct plank footbridges that would enable them move in and out of their streets in case of severe flooding.
He observed that some other community development associations are adopting similar measure to enable them tackle the problems of flooding.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment had informed residents that Lagos flood is mostly as a result of its peculiarities of being a coastal city where whenever it rains heavily, the lagoon and ocean, which automatically block all the canals, rise significantly and until the water in the ocean and lagoon recedes the canals would not be able to discharge into them. He advised that all Lagosians need do is it to prepare themselves and see flood as something they just have to live with.
While Lagos State government is undertaking sundry projects to curtail the activities of flood in the state, The Guardian gathered that the same couldn’t be said of most states across the country, as they are yet to do anything about the coming rain. They appear clueless and are perhaps waiting for the rains to start destroying things before they would put in place measures to check flooding.
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