BY OLA AJAYI
IBADAN—FIFTEEN people have so far been drowned in the flood occasioned by heavy downpour that fell for several hours on Saturday.
While 10 casualties were recorded at Apete area of Oyo State on Saturday, another five persons including three children of a woman taking refuge in a C&S church located around Olodo river were said to have been swept away by the raging flood.
Giving account of how the woman and her children were swept away, a man identified as Fatai Osuolale, said the church and some buildings were submerged.
According to him, rescue team were still searching for the bodies of the victims adding that one body had been found so far.
He added that a car was also seen floating on the flood noting that the owner escaped unhurt as he was seen after the flood had subsided trying to remove his car.
Meanwhile, the death of about 10 people at Apete area has triggered street protests by some irate youth who felt that the slow pace of work on the main bridge led to the death of the people.
During the protest, the youths vandalized the work station of the contractor handling the Ijokodo-Apete road and the bridge linking the two communities.
On the casualties recorded at Apete area of the city, hundreds of residents were seen at the end of the bridge waiting for rescue operation to start.
Some of them were throwing stones and other objects at a combined team of security agents who were at the Ijokodo end of the road to maintain order.
Bassey Etum, one of the security men employed by the construction company said that he had to run into the bush to escape being lynched.
He said, “After the river had overflown its banks, residents at the community said people drowned because of the bridge that collapsed. They vented their anger on the company and destroyed our machines and equipment. They stole computers and other office equipment too. There were six security men here when they came last night (Saturday night). They wanted to lynch us so we ran into a nearby forest. When we returned around 11pm, the whole place had been vandalized.”
Tunde Emiola, said “the rain started in the afternoon but by 6.30pm the bridge was submerged. I was among the crowd at the Apete end of the river bank. We saw people trying to make use of the bridge and warned them but they were desperate to reach home before it was too dark. Suddenly, the wooden pillars holding the bridge collapsed and people fell into the river. The current was too much so there was little hope for survival. We rescued two people but more than 10 others drowned. I was there and saw it all till very late. The youths were really angry at the number of deaths.”
Since the bridge linking Ijokodo community and Apete, Ajibode, Arula, Awotan, Olomo and other communities collapsed during the August 26, 2011 flood disaster, construction work on it has been going on at a snail speed.
The Caretaker Chairman of Ido Local Government, Prof. Joseph Olowofela, who described the incident as unfortunate explained that it was the volume of the flood that thwarted the effort of the council to erect a stronger make-shift bridge there.
He said, “I was here on Friday with the contractor that was to erect the bridge. But we realised that the volume of the water was too much so we decided to wait for it to come down. Unfortunately, heavier rain fell on Saturday which swept away the existing one. We are hearing lots of stories about the incident but we are yet to ascertain how many people were actually involved. Those who were rescued have been taken to a hospital.
“We have a large number of people here so we will go ahead and construct the bridge. Whatever we do is a palliative measure because the state government through a contractor is already working on a standard bridge that will be completed before the end of this year.”