As predicted by experts, this year’s rain has been very torrential. The impact is being severely felt by Lagosians. The pains and sense of loss are coming, despite efforts by the state government to alleviate the resultant grim circumstances of millions of residents.
Before now, experts across the world had made it clear, that the intensity of this year’s rains would be much more than what we were used to. Recent occurrences have, indeed, given credence to their prediction. Across the world, it has been rains and floods, so much of them.
However, the effects seem to be uglier in the city of Lagos and its environs – including, of course, the neighbouring state of Ogun. Lagos has a peculiar flooding challenge. It is always vulnerable to flooding as a result of its topography. Lagos is a coastal city surrounded by water. Again, the low-lying terrain of up to 0.4 per cent below sea level, has caused a huge drainage challenges in the state. As a result, Lagos has become vulnerable to flooding, no matter the magnitude of rain.
Minus the sacking of numerous households from their residences, road users in the commercial city of Lagos cannot forget in a hurry the agony they have to endure to commute to and from during this season. As a result of flood and flood-occasioned failed roads, traffic jams are delighting in their mockery of the hapless city dwellers. These days, most people get home very late, having spent hours on end in these unforgiving gridlocks. Still, some do not get home at all till the next day. It is even more so for those who move around in their own cars.
Mrs. Oluwatoyin Makinde was one of those who made the mistake of putting their cars on the road Thursday, last week. She lives in Akonwojo area of Lagos and works on Victoria Island. That day, she rushed out of her office at 4.30pm, according to her, to gain some time against the cruel weather. “At exactly 11.45pm, I had the feeling that if I stayed any further in that traffic, I would pass out,” she recounted. She had only managed to crawl to Ikeja. “So, I had to struggle to one of my friends’ house at Adeniyi Jones (Ikeja) to pass the night,” the distraught lady said. That meant she spent almost 11 hours, still she couldn’t get to her home.
Stories have been told of how men of underworld who specialize in robbing commuters at traffic jams dispossessing people of their personal items, including cash, phones, laptops and documents. It is now common to see commuters spending long period of time at bus stops, waiting to board buses to their destinations. Some commercial operators, whose vehicles cannot wade through the floods, withdraw their buses from roads. As expected, operators increase transport fares to make up for lost time in traffic jams.
Reports show that areas worse affected by the floods are Lagos-Badagry, Apapa-Oshodi, Lagos-Ikorodu, Itire-Lawanson roads, as well as some parts of Amuwo-Odofin, especially around Eko Akete Street, linking Jakande Estate near Mile 2, where residents are accusing the construction firm handling the expansion of the Festac-Amuwo Link Road of shoddy job, especially concerning drainage system.
In the same vein, driving through the Maryland axis on a rainy day has become a nightmare for motorists, as the area, particularly under the footbridge, has been submerged by rain-water which, flows onto the express road from adjourning estates. This is attributed to lack of proper drainage system.
The Ojoo area of the state, as always during the rainy season, is now a no-go-area. They include Onireke, Tedi-Abule-Oshun, and Ira-Mile 10 roads, which links Alaba International Market.
In Alimosho area, the flood is compounded by ditches and craters on the roads, which have forced some motorists to shun driving on these corridors. Just a few metres from the Jakande roundabout, driving and commuting have become a Herculean task. Most shanties around the city have been washed off by floods, while residents watch in helplessness.
It would be recalled that last year, Lagosians were thrown into sustained mourning as a result of the pain inflicted on the state by similar torrential downpours. It was reported that 25 people, including 11 children, lost their lives. Some of those that died included a couple that was in a car and were trying to maneuver through the flood, but ended up in a ditch.
Among the numbers were three bodies suspected to have drowned as a result of the previous day’s rainfall at Aboru community, Agbado-Okeodo LCDA. Also at Dopemu, Agege area was the death of a 22-year-old Muri Olanrewaju. He died inside a sewage tank. It was learnt that Olanrewaju slipped into the pit that was already submerged by flood.
A three-year-old Daniel Okpah was coming home from school with his seven-year-old brother, Samuel, when he slipped and fell into a big gutter. The wave of the flood carried him away. Till date, his dead body has not been recovered.
Same last year, property worth several billions of naira were destroyed. Some of the worst-hit areas included Mobil Filling Station, Ogba, where the fence of a company collapsed due to flood, Odejobi Street, off Iju Road, Agege, Abattoir canal in Orile-Agege Local Government Area, Abeokuta-Lagos expressway failed portion of the road at Obadeyi Bus Stop, and Aboru canal, at Iyana-Ipaja end of Abeokuta-Lagos expressway among others. The flood also affected highbrow areas, including Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Apapa, where property like vehicles, office equipment and house hold items were destroyed.
The effect of that Sunday’s twenty-hour down pour, which continued for the better part of the previous day, took its toll on several families, some of who were sacked from their abodes. Also in Ajegunle area of Lagos, it was reported that over 28 families were rendered homeless, as four buildings, which foundations were weakened by the heavy down pour, caved in. Others, whose apartments were flooded, relocated members of their families to their relatives’ homes.
At Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo, a woman and her 11-month-old baby escaped death by the whiskers, Sunday night, when they were carried away by flood of the 24-hour down pour. Some believe that most of the areas affected by this year’s flooding is as a result of the recalcitrance of residents. Early in the year, experts had warned that the rains this year would be much. Consequently, the state government mounted stringent enlightening campaigns, asking Lagosians, especially those in flood-prone areas, to organize their surroundings.
Specifically, they were asked to desist from blocking available drainages. It was discovered, however, that, instead of heeding these warnings and acting on the government charge, residents acted indifferently. As one government official put it the other day, “this is the result of what we have been telling Lagosians. Now, we are all in trouble.”
Government intervention As soon as cases of flood started hiting the areas in Lagos last year, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, undertook a tour of flood-affected areas in parts of the state, saying government would identify and remove all obstructions to drainage channels in the state. Governor Fashola, had inspected drainage systems in Gbagada, Somolu, Iganmu and parts of Surulere, and vowed that his administration would no longer tolerate erection of structures or any other form of human intervention on established drainage and flood channels in the state. He added that enforcement would be stepped up.
According to him at the time, these flood mishaps were largely due to human intervention and obstruction of the channels either by building on them or by blocking them with refuse or other items of such nature. He then assured that contractors were working on the different drainage systems across the state to re-establish the canal lines so that there would be free flow of water during the rains, adding that there was need for more dredging of the waterways which.
Again, the Commissioner of Environment in Lagos State, Tunji Bello released a statement, imploring residents to bear with the government. He noted that downpour was heavier than normal as the state government earlier warned which caused the water level to rise incredibly and cause the channels that are meant to discharge water from the roads and drainages to be completely locked.
He, however, warned that the state government would immediately commence the enforcement of a new regime of laws affecting the environment, stressing that such matters would no longer be compromised.
New promises to put an end to flooding A repeat of last year flood happened on June 28, 2012. It left a significant part of Lagos flooded and compelled Governor Raji Fashola to think up a new flood management strategy. The new plan will entail the dredging of roads in low-lying and fold-prone communities of the metropolis, turning them into canals. By this action, the water will have a natural route and Lagos can make full use of the canals as waterways.
If that is done, major roads in Lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island on the Island will be dredged. Also to be affected are parts of Bariga, Anifowoshe-Ikeja and Ipaja, among others. These would be dredged to allow for motorboat navigation during the rains. It is said that Governor Fashola got the idea for his new plan after watching Lagosians rent canoes to transport them through their flooded streets and homes, days after residents of Hull, UK did the same thing. “The new thinking is relevant since we have noticed regular floods over the past years as a result of global warming and climatic changes. We are now looking at how we could work with the changes rather than fight them”, Fashola was said to have told his cabinet at a meeting within the week.