ByÂ Olasunkanmi Akoni
It was like a miracle come through for the residents of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) when the mangers of the council moved equipment to site to put an end to the perennial flood ravaging the area during rainy season. The rain when it comes often send Pa Elliot an 86 years old resident of Olusanya Street in Ejigbo area of Lagos seeking refuge in a cousinâ€™s abode in another part of the state .
In the last seven years he and his wife 83, are forced out of their abode by the floods, as the roads become impassable.Â TheÂ PA Elliot juts returned with his wife on Friday 21st August 2009 from where he had sought refuge after a torrential rain devastated his home when it threatened to rain again.
Similarly, Engineer Femi Iluyemi, a resident also recounted his sordid experience in 2004. What happened, you may ask.
Iluyemi lost his security guard to one of the many floods in that year. â€œMy own security guard (Mallam Ali) was killed by the flood in 2004. The rains came down that fateful night and Ali who runs a small kiosk decided to remove his wares inside the main house.
â€œIn the process, the flood knocked him down and he hitting his head on a rock. He died instantly. His son is still with meâ€.
For Mr. Fabian Idowu, another resident of the area said, itâ€™s been 15 years of contending with the flood menace.
â€œThe experience is right away from Orilowo Ejigbo; the water takes off before the Palace, before Idimu road. It crosses over from the market, turns around and then comes to this point. We have been in this mess for over 15 years. I took up the challenge since 2001, writing collecting pictures, videotapes; one of our camera tapes was seized by the Kabiyesi on the grounds that we are agents of Lagos stateâ€.
However not only the residents feel the pains the flood brings. Chairman of the council, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan revealed to Vanguard newspapers that tackling flood is one of the major challenges his administration has had to contend with since resuming office.
For him, tackling the floods through drainage construction tops his priority and this explains why it has presently spent over N300million out of the N975 million needed to manage floods once and for all.
The drainage being constructed on Grey-Olusanya Street is expected to serve as a link channel for water flowing from Orilowo Ejigbo before the Kabiyesiâ€™s palace, towards Idimu road. It is also expected to check the menace coming from Kensington Plaza that before it takes its final turn on Grey-Olusanya Street.
The drainage has started to yield results.Â According to Pa Elliot, days of relocating from his house after every heavy downpour are over. â€œIâ€™ve seen very great improvement from this government. The rain that fell last was so heavy that it broke down four walls simultaneously. IfÂ you repair one, another rainy season would bring it down. But with this drainage channel now, it would not be the same again.
I thank the government and I thank God that he has spared my life and that of my family to see today. The rain that fell two days ago, I moved round to see the result, but it was very fantastic.Â Floods disappeared from here as soon as rain stopsâ€.
Bamigbetan also revealed that much of the funds the council is using to finance the project was from the Internal Generated Revenue provided by the Lagos State Government for rapid development of Local governments and LCDAs.
He described the funds as manna from heaven and has helped as a starting point in the development the area as far as infrastructures are concerned.
Aside drainage, Bamigbetanâ€™s government has also embarked on other projects. Some of these projects include construction of primary health care centers, rehabilitation of public schools and construction of six new public toilets.
According to him, the construction of toilets was in line with the councilâ€™s commitment to the protection of the environment from abuses. He revealed that the Ejigbo axis has now become a major transit point for tanker drivers, mechanics and individuals who come for the purpose of business transaction and as such the facility is needed to build and sustain a hygienic status of the whole community.
Bamigbetan, a former Chief Press Secretary to the immediate past governor of Lagos State also argued that such development of the area wouldnâ€™t have been possible without the creation of the LCDA.
He revealed that when the area was under the Mushin local government, there were agitations by concerned citizens for the area to be alone because they found out that they were being marginalized.
â€œVery few things in terms of project come here and you can see what we are doing, building schools now, building healthcare centres and the likes but that instrumentality of an LCDA coming this way, many of the things we are talking about may never ever have come this way.
Itâ€™s an innovation. Many are also arguing that why are they being elected, look, itâ€™s the responsibility of the government to feel how well, we said this government should be run as democratically as possible, the government can appoint a twelve member committee to run an area office, it has chosen to ensure that the people have a role to show those people get there so that they can have a sense of commitment to the community and here are people querying it, its absurd, that a supposedly democratic government would be querying a democratic system put in placeâ€, he said.revealed that the move was necessary as they discovered that most of their staff saunter in and out of the secretariat on the excuse that they have gone in search for food.
Aside this reason, a staff of the council was reported to have being hit by a vehicle in an attempt to cross the road to have lunch.
Provision of portable water also tops the priority list of Bamigbetanâ€™s government. Presently the council is interfacing with the Lagos State Water Corporation who have decided to engage in reticulation where both parties would join resources and provide funds together for laying of pipes.
From the plan, the existing water box on the Idimu axis would serve as a distribution channel where water can be pushed into Ejigbo, Luckily the Jakande Estate area has some links, which the council intends to improve upon.
â€œWhat we need at the Ejigbo main town is to develop at least street pipes first so that people can begin to have water in their houses. What we have now is private water producers who use bore holes, but the state government believes that drilling more bore holes may affect the aquifer of the state and they have advised us to interact more with the Lagos State Water Corporation in pipe laying and provision of waterâ€.
However despite the efforts by the council to better the lots of residents in the area, Bamigbetan believes that they must also play their part especially serve as a watchdog on the contractors handling projects within their vicinity.
â€œWe thank the citizens for buying into the project because its very important that citizens buy into the project and see it as theirs.
That is why they know how much the government is spending, because this government is one that as such comes to the world every month to tell how much we are spending and how much is available and people know how much we are spending on these things and therefore they are taking it upon themselves.
We do not neglect what the residents have said, what we do now is to sit the contractors down and let them know that that the people have the right to monitor these projects. Then we look critical at the technical implications of many of the comments that have been madeâ€.
With residents high expectation to mark the 300 days in office of the council administrator, Bamigbetan is optimistic that all the projects would be completed within the stipulated time.