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Lagos, Ogun residents shiver, as rainy season peaks

By Chuks Nwanne and Gbenga Akinfenwa
19 June 2016   |   4:01 am
The recent downpour, which resulted in serious flooding of some areas in Ogun State and parts of Lagos, has sent a warning signal to residents and government agencies ...
A section of flooded Diya Street, Gbagada, Lagos. PHOTO: CHARLES OKOLO

A section of flooded Diya Street, Gbagada, Lagos. PHOTO: CHARLES OKOLO

Flood takes over major roads, streets

The recent downpour, which resulted in serious flooding of some areas in Ogun State and parts of Lagos, has sent a warning signal to residents and government agencies on the danger lurking ahead in months to come, when heavy rains are expected.

Though the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had predicted that most parts of the country would experience less than normal, delayed and early cessation of rainfall than previous years, citizens are pessimistic, as these are seen as pointers to the fact that 2016 may not be entirely flood-free after all.

While some Ogun State residents are still counting their losses on account of the recent flood, others may not forget its effect in a hurry, as it has thrown them into endless gnashing of teeth and wailing.

For instance, a four-year-old girl reportedly drowned in a community in Ifo Local Government area of the state. Places such as Ifo, Ilepa, Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo, Ijako, Sango, Agbado crossing and other areas visited by The Guardian, also witnessed the effect of the heavy flooding that did not only hamper movement of vehicles, but also swept away properties.

From 2:30pm, when the rain started till dusk on Sunday, major highways and link roads were totally submerged, grounding vehicular movement for hours. The stretch from Ijako-tipper to Owode; Conoil junction to Joju from the bridge end was like a river, as the gutters were overflowing.

The condition of the Joju area was so pathetic that the canal at the right side of the bridge overflowed and spilled to the road such that vehicles heading towards Abeokuta and Ifo were grounded. They had to wait for hours before eventually wading through the surging water, as there was no alternative route.

Motorists, who underestimated the flood, were caught up in the middle of the road, with their passengers stuck. Those who could not withstand the situation made a quick detour on the overhead bridge, but not without another battle to escape from the traffic jam that had extended towards Dalemo Bus Stop.

Houses and shops in the area were also not spared, as water gushed into houses from the express road, forcing residents to flee. Roadside traders and hawkers had to close early.

The Ijako-Tipper garage stretch was also a terrible sight to behold. Cars that were caught in the middle of it were almost swept away, with the drivers rendered helpless. A dead body that had been lying by the roadside was swept into the drainage and carried away.

The rain also compounded the state of the Owode stretch, which has been in disrepair for long. The rushing water from Alade and other communities flowed uncontrollably into the road.

What really aggravated the condition of the area was the fact that the drainage system on both sides has been completely blocked. Though the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) had removed the silt about a year ago, the drainages are now filled up again, making it difficult for water to flow through.

At Agbado crossing, the road from the Okada Park through Powerline to Toyin Bus Stop on the popular Osoba Road was deserted to avert tragedy. The once-tarred road turned death traps became waterlogged so much so that even Okada riders, who dared to ferry commuters across abandoned the road.

The streets in the area were flooded, especially where there was no provision for drainage, to the chagrin of residents and community leaders. It was the same story at Ijoko and Denro area via Agbado, under Ifo council area, as they also felt the negative impact of the raging flood. The development did not only disrupt the movement of Denro residents, it also hindered commercial activities days after, as the roads remained impassable.

A motorist, Kabiru Aileru, who spoke with The Guardian, bemoaned the fate of people living in the affected areas, noting that if the necessary things are done, people shouldn’t been living in fear of raging flooding.

He appealed to both the local and state governments to speedily work on drainages, especially on the express road before the worst happens.

Madam Isiat Omoniyi, who resides at Agbado, said the neglect of the area is responsible for the untold hardship the residents are facing. She claimed that despite voting for the present administration, there is virtually no government presence, as they have been having only tales of woe to tell.

She called on Governor Ibikunle Amosun to send delegates to the area and ensure that the appropriate things are done to protect the lives of those living in the area.

When the Commissioner for Environment, Bolaji Oyeleye was contacted on phone, he explained that his ministry has embarked on campaigns for people to de-silt their drainages, noting that any area with issues will soon be visited by the ministry.

He said the areas mentioned might be waterlogged temporarily due to the level of rainfall, but after the rain the areas will get dry. He explained that it is a regular occurrence, which happens everywhere, including better organised societies and that everything will soon return to normal.

Said he: “Basically what we have done, especially in areas, where we have renewed infrastructures such as Abeokuta, Ado-Odo/Ota, Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, is to make sure that we construct drainages on both sides. You can’t go to any of our major cities and see any flood and that is what we intend doing across the state.

“So, whenever there is rain, the worst scenario is temporary flood, but hours after that, the rainwater is absorbed and everything will return to normal. We have been warning our people to stop throwing refuse into drainages. We do this on a regular basis.”

In Lagos, many streets and roads were flooded. Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island was so flooded that motorists found it hard to maneuver. Except for those driving SUVs, who swam through the flooded road with ease, it was a nightmare for those in salon cars that night, as the rain pelted down.

From the Eko Hotel end of Adetokunbo Ademola Street to Ahmadu Bello Way and Bar Beach corner, the situation was not bad, but from the IMB Building down to NTA was flooded.

While those that got wind of the flood diverted to Akin Adesola into Ahmadu Bello Way, through Adeola Odeku and headed for the Mainland, those already caught in the flood had no other option than to swim through. As a result of flood and poor visibility, some cars mistakenly veered off the road into drainages, while others ended up in uncovered manholes.

The Ahmadu Bello Way flood could be attributed to poor drainage system in the area, but it appears the ongoing construction on the Eko Atlantic City might have aggravated the situation. With the whole section of the construction site now walled up, Ahmadu Bello Way is now prone to flood, though it disperses quicker than in most areas.

But for the good road in the Lawanson area of Surulere, it would have been one of the worst hit. From the Ojuelegba end of the road down to Lawanson Bus Stop, the drainage system seems to be in good shape, collecting water from adjourning streets into the canal. But from Lawanson Bus Stop down to Pako Bus Stop, the road was flooded, making it difficult for motorists to ply it.

Unlike other areas flooded because of bad roads and poor drainage system, the Lawanson flood seems to be man made. Here, it’s a common practice for residents to empty their refuse bins into the gutters, thereby blocking the channels, which brought about the flood. And with most buildings on that stretch occupied by traders, it becomes a free zone at night after the shop owners have retired for the day.

“It’s unfortunate that people around this area are used to pouring their wastes into the drainage, thereby blocking water channels,” lamented Uchenna Nwafor, a tokunbo fridge seller. “Sometimes, the flood comes into our shops and most of us don’t live around here. Just look at the drainage and see all the rubbish they have poured inside. I don’t know why government is not doing anything about it.”

Meanwhile, almost all adjourning streets had heaps of refuse by their entrance, most of which would get washed into the drainages during the rain.

“You have to blame LAWMA people for that. Every month, we pay LAWMA levy, but you hardly see them come to pick our refuse. They only come when they like. So, you don’t expect us to dump them in our homes; that’s why you see that heap of refuse there,” Kunle, a resident explained.

Also, Diya Street in Ifako, Gbagada, Lagos, is currently in a bad shape, and with the threatening rains, residents and commuters are in for tough times. Aside poor drainage system, the road itself has gone from bad to worse, posing a major challenge to commuters and even pedestrians, whenever it rains. Worst hit are business offices, including commercial banks that find it difficult to access their offices as a result of flood.

As for Adeshina Street in Ijesha, residents seem to have learned to live with the menace of flood, since contractors abandoned the road. Though one side of the road has drainage system in place, the same cannot be said about the other side, which is always flooded due to lack of drainage. From Lekki to even the Victoria Garden City (VGC), it’s been a tale of pains as a result of flooding.

While underscoring its yearly rainfall prediction as critical to the nation’s economic growth and development, the Director General of NIMET, Mr. Anthony Anuforom, said the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), is part of the agency’s meteorological early warning system, which contains rainfall and temperature outlook for the year, as well as the possible socio-economic implications of the projected weather patterns.

He, however, explained that the rainfall season in the year would be characterised by late onset, especially in the northern parts of the country, adding that this year’s SRP presentation will focus on the impact of weather variability and climate change on transportation infrastructure and agriculture in the country.

The key message of the prediction, Anuforom said is that most parts of Nigeria are likely to experience delayed onset, early cessation and less-than-normal rainfall amounts as well as dry spells.

“This is attributed to the effect of the El Nino that has persisted since 2015. So, many parts of the country are less likely to experience delayed onset, early cessation and dry spells during the rainy season. Of particular concern is the fact that the dry spell may set in from May to June/July, when farmers may have planted their crops. If not well managed, this could result in crop failure.”

However, in 2015, most parts of the country experienced late onset of rainfall, as predicted and stated in NIMET’s 2015 SRP. But there were also widespread flood recorded in 17 states of the Federation. In spite of the late onset of rain, flooding was reported in many parts of the country between June and September. For instance, severe floods were reported in Lagos and its environs in June due to days of incessant downpours. Isolated cases of flash flood caused by heavy rainfall of short duration also affected other states such as Adamawa, Kano, Ogun, Edo and Cross River.