By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, KINGSLEY ADEGBOYE & MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
Lagos State government may have washed its hands off the travails of those affected by the flood that resulted from last week persistent rainfall, warning those living in flood plains to relocate to safer places.
It also warned that last week’s rains may be a child’s play compared to what is expected in the next two weeks.
Meantime, last Thursday’s floods that wreaked havoc on Lagos residents following heavy down pour of Wednesday night persisted as major roads across the sprawling city were flooded yesterday as a result of rainfall that lasted several hours weekend. As usual, motorists and commuters spent several hours to get to their destinations.
Oshodi/Apapa Expressway was particularly a nightmare as several portions of the dual carriageway that serves as the country’s economic gateway to Wharf and Tin Can Island Ports were heavily flooded, subjecting motorists and commuters plying the ever busy road to untold hardship.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, penultimate weekend, said Lagos would soon experience a seven-day rainfall which would be accompanied by thunderstorms.
According to Mr Abayomi Oyegoke, from NIMET Central Forecast Unit, Oshodi, a total of 570 mm of rainfall had been recorded in Lagos State between January and June, 2012.
He explained that the rains being experienced in the state were the beginning of a seven-day rainfall. “In the last one week, it appears we are experiencing a prelude to the normal seven days rainfall and immediately after the seven days rain, what should be the next, is the little dry season.
“The dry season indicates the onset of the ‘August break’ and it seems the break may come early this year towards the second or third week in July, this is also normal,” Oyegoke said.
In anticipation of this year heavy rainfall, Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, after an inspection tour of drainage channels in Orile Agege area during Saturday monthly sanitation, warned residents in blighted areas, particularly those on flood plains such as Aboru in Oke Odo, Mile 12, Agiliti, Isheri North, Owode-Onirin, Ikorodu, Majidun, Ajegunle, all in Ikorodu axis to relocate from the area in view of the forecast that more rain likely to lead to serious flooding were still being expected.
The commissioner declared that “several warning notices had been served to the affected areas in the state which are considered to be flood prone because they are sitting on wetland”.
“To avert any likely disaster, it is highly imperative for these residents to vacate and relocate to more safe areas because of the level of rainfall expected this year with its attendants flooding situation.
“We have warned them that there is no magic to be done to address the situation for them other than them vacating the areas. There are other areas which we can not mention now have been served quit notices it behoves on them to heed or face the consequences.”
Residents of the affected areas are however, advised not to panic, but be vigilant and be on the alert, as the state government would continue to monitor the situation while members of the public would be adequately informed about further developments.
Bello said that the ministry had been proactive enough to have come up with forward-looking strategy and work plan which had divided its de-flooding programme into a trimester of pre-rain, mid-rain and post-rain plan.
It could not be confirmed at the time of this report if the state government had any arrangement to accommodate affected residents.
Meanwhile, the state government has assured residents in Oko-Oba Agege area of the state and its environs that expansion of the drainage channels and canals would soon be done so as to contain the massive rains and flood expected within the next two weeks.
Bello explained that the Oko-Oba canal was developed in 1989 to suit the capacity of residents at the time, saying that population increase and the impact of climate change were among the factors that created the challenges of flooding witnessed in the area during the last heavy rainfall in the state.
“The kind of rain we were having 20 years ago is not the same now and don’t forget when that channel was created, they took cognisance of the population of that area. Over the years now, the population has increased; we now need to expand the channel to cater for the population, Secondly, the volume of water coming is so much that because the drainage was done a long time ago, it was designed to take a certain amount of water, and now because the water is so much automatically, it has affected the channel”, Bello explained.
The commissioner promised that the government will commence rehabilitation of the canal and increase its capacity in order to effectively address the challenge in the area.
He assured, that the government will “Go back and rehabilitate the channel and then increase the capacity to reinforce the bridge and the concrete line”.
He attributed the challenge of flooding on the Abeokuta Expressway on inability of the man holes under the expressway to contain the amount of water coming from Oko-Oba area urging the federal government; “To quickly go there and put bigger manholes to accommodate the amount of water coming from the channel”