By Kingsley Adegboye
The Lagos State Government said last week that it will carry out evaluation of foundations of buildings at Ajegunle along Ikorodu Road to ascertain their fitness for human habitation following the flooding of the entire Lagos suburb as a result of the release of water from Ogun/Oshun River.
The Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire disclosed during an inspection of the flood ravaged community by a delegation from the Presidency and officials of Lagos State Government. The Commissioner was reacting to a question as to whether the buildings in the area can still be habitable.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has given an assurance that it will intervene in the flooding that has ravaged Ajegunle and its environs in the last one week.
Director, Soil Erosion and Flood at the Ecological Fund Office, Abuja , Mrs. Rose Maranzu said money from the ecological fund will be released to bring permanent solution to the problem of perennial flooding in the area.
The acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Engr. Bawuro Yahaya, who led the Federal Government delegation had earlier told Lagos officials that they embarked on the inspection to assess the extent of the flood as well as sympathise with Lagos State Government and the affected people.
Engr. Yahaya who described the flooding as serious judging from what he saw, gave the assurance that permanent solution will be sought to end perennial problem of flooding of the area.
Dr. Banire who briefed the delegation on the efforts of the state government to relocate the victims to a camp in Agbowa, said the resources to put permanent solution in place were huge and required federal government’s assistance. He added that such permanent solution will involve engineering measures to be carried out.
Briefing the delegation on the relocation of victims, Dr. Tola Kasali, Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties said three camps had been earmarked, pointing out that so far, about 800 people had been evacuated to Agbowa. Dr. Kasali who noted that relocation of the victims was the only way to bail people out of epidemics, stressed that the important thing to do now is to move as many people as are willing to the Agbowa camp. He added that the state government had been dialoguing with the victims and some of them who said they won’t move out of the flooded Ajegunle had agreed to be relocated to Agbowa, saying that dialogue was the only way to persuade the people, as some of the people had claimed that they had lived in the area for 20 years and more.
Governor Babatunde Fashola who had earlier visited the scene, lamented that for three years, the Lagos State Government has been writing to the Federal Government on the need to find lasting solutions to a myriad of ecological problems by putting in place necessary infrastructure all to no avail. He queried the criteria for disbursing the ecological fund.
Describing Ajegunle as a flood plain abutting the lagoon, which no one was allowed to reside in, the Governor said the area is unplanned and unapproved for settlement. Fashola added that expert advice was to the effect that nature must be allowed to take its natural course before any permanent solution could be sought. According to him, what happened in Lagos was a natural disaster which consequences were aggravated by human activities.
Governor Fashola recalled that there was this kind of flooding in 2007 which resulted in the relocation of the people from the area but they came back as soon as the water receded. He pleaded for understanding of the leaders and people of the community in the bid to relocate them to safer places stating that “human lives are much more important to us”.