By Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS residents now live in fear as the 2013 rainy season gather momentum. This is apparently due to the devastating effect of floods that come with the season. Previously, particularly, 2010 and 2011, there weres heavy rainfall accompanied by severe rainstorm which claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed property worth billions of naira across the metropolis.
School pupils under the ages of three and 16 were not spared in the catastrophe that shook the foundation of the state, prompting the incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola to order an immediate holistic approach with the aim of mitigating of the situation. Though, flooding ravaged many states of the country last year, Lagos State is taking a special precaution considering the ever increasing population estimated at over 19 million people currently.
Early this year, rainfall was recorded to have wreaked havoc on several communities across the states, and rendered people homeless in the process. Last week, several buildings were damaged in some parts of Kwara State, after a heavy downpour accompanied with rainstorm.
In preparation for the rainy season, following the prediction of heavy rains in 2013 by the Nigerian Institute of Meteorology, NIMET and need to take proactive steps towards mitigating the effect of flooding, Lagos State has adopted palliative measures of clearing all the drains across the state to allow easy flow of storm water.
Construction and upgrading of drainage channels numbering over 250 are ongoing in all the 20 Local Government Areas, LGAs and Local Council Development Areas, 37 LCDAs as the present administration promised that it would continue to embark on plans and programmes that would bring succour to the citizenry. State Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, in his continued tour of drainage project sites, last week inspected water channels in Lagos Island to assess the progress of work in the axis.
While conducting pressmen round the project site, Bello stated that the tour was aimed at determining the extent of work done and to examine where clearing, cleaning and expansion of drainage would be needed before the rains come. He gave assurance that the state government was fully prepared for the rainy season, stressing that most of the drainage channels would be completed soon.
Allaying the fear of flooding, Bello explained that “flash flood maybe experienced in the state, but it would disappear within a short period of time”, even as he urged residents to be on the alert and continue to clear the drains. The state government frowned at the attitude of some traders who shun the compulsory weekly Thursday sanitation exercise. As a deterrent, some stalls in Anikantamo, Lagos Island were locked up for failure to participate in the exercise as the drains in front of their stalls were full of dumped refuse.
Bello, therefore, warned that the state government would close down any market that fails to comply with the state sanitation laws.
Some of the drainage projects site inspected include; the proposed construction of LAWMA yard/Ebute Elefun Collector Drain; Patey/Zapas Collector Channel; Epe/Adeniji Adele Channel; Omidun/Adeniji Adele Channels, among others.
Validating draft policy on water, sanitation: Meantime, the state government has engaged stakeholders in the three senatorial districts to obtain their input with a view to enriching and validating the draft policy on water and sanitation for the state.
The Ministerial Technical Committee under the Chairmanship of the state Commissioner for the Environment, Bello, had been set up to review and develop a sustainable policy on water supply and sanitation.The policy is to address the following areas: water demand and supply, preservation and enhancement of quality water towards improved sanitation and promotion of regulations that would result in qualitative, available, affordable and sustainable water and waste-water services.
A water audit would be conducted to determine the sources of water relied upon by the various sections of the state and ascertain the demand for the state’s water services.
According to Bello; “we need to get the buy-in of the people into this policy and encourage ownership by the people. This is why we have been conducting this stakeholders’ meeting in the three Senatorial districts of Lagos state.”