By Bose Adebayo
Many of them had have been forced to flee their homes while those who thought they could brave the situation are now gripped by fear. Indeed the flood has been unrelenting in its surge as it continues to wreak havoc on those communities abutting the River Ogun.
The flooding which began about two weeks ago was occasioned by heavy rainfall and the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority releasing water from the Oyan Dam into the Ogun River, making the river to over-flow its banks.
For instance, among the residents that have abandoned their homes are those at the Isheri axis of Ogun State. In the same vein, some companies have gone on compulsory holidays while others now scoop water from their offices before business can take place.
When Vanguard Metro went round Gaun, Oke-Ayo, Majada, Magboro, Riverview and Golden Estates in Ogun State, there was palpable panic as more people prepared to flee to safety. People living in the communities that are yet to be visited by the floods also expressed fears of impending flooding.
A staff of a production company said his company has stopped production for some days as the flood has affected some of their machines. ‘’If one makes the mistake of touching any of the machines, he or she could be electrocuted; as a result, our boss has ordered us to stop production because we must scoop water throughout the offices,” he said.
Some residents of Magboro said they might relocate to their home towns if the flood persists. ‘’We were not around when the flood came and we could not enter our houses since then. We have not had a change of clothing because we cannot gain access to our homes.
Our people have been calling us from Oshogbo, Idanre and Ile-Ife and we might need to go and stay there till the water level decreases,’‘ said Mr. and Mrs. Julius Olaifa, Madam Olaigbe Funmi and Alfa Adegoke Kazeem.
A community leader at Gaun told this reporter that residents now make use of canoe before they can gain access to their homes. ‘’We now use canoe to enter our homes but none of us is at rest any longer because the flood has refused to decrease.
Some of our people have left the community to neighbouring places as their children could not cope with the situation,’‘ said Chief Olokooyo Amoo.
When this reporter visited some of these communities, some companies were seen scooping water, while she saw agitated residents, including school children, scrambling to board the few canoes that were conveying people from the flooded areas to unaffected areas. Residents said they have lost property whose monetary value could not be ascertained.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has ordered the release of truckloads of relief materials to victims of flood disaster in Lagos and Ogun states as interim measures to address the plight of the inhabitants of the communities.
The Director General of the agency, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Sidi disclosed this after conducting on-the-spot assessments of some of the areas affected in the two states.
He said government could not afford to be onlookers to various hazards or disasters capable of threatening sustainable development efforts.
While he pleaded that the relief materials should reach the needy, he appealled to states to ensure they have well equipped and funded local emergency agencies to be able to tackle emergency problems as they arise.
While observing that flooding has been an incessant problem in most urban and rural communities, Sani-Sidi said the present episode was as a result of environmental factors, problems in dam management and lack of adequate awareness which led to the loss of lives, damage to properties and displacement of the inhabitants of many communities.
According to him: “The impact of climate change is unabated with attendance of flood, drought, epidemics, earthquake, etc. Therefore we cannot fold our hands and assume every disaster to be due to effect of global climate change, all hands must be on deck to find a lasting solution to the problem”.
He also commended the effort of some state governments for setting a committee towards finding a lasting solution to the recurrent problem of flooding and other related disaster in their states.
Sani-Sidi reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government towards alleviating the sufferings of disaster victims in the country, most especially now the issue of flood disaster has been on the increase. Considering the magnitude of the incidence and present condition of the affected victims, relief materials will be provided as a temporary measure to alleviate the conditions of the victims.
He said disaster is a sudden calamity that damages human lives and affects environment which constitutes monumental setbacks to national development.
He observed that the impact of the flood disaster is more than the previous years due to the increase in the population of the people residing on the flood plains of the main river, the climatic change factors causing increase in rainfall and the blockage of drainages that impede the easy flow of water.
The NEMA boss and his team also met with governors of the two states, Raji Fashola and Gbenga Daniel respectively to commiserate with them over the incident.