By Bose Adelaja
The effects of the 15 hours downpour that ravaged Lagos on Sunday July 10, 2011 are still being felt in many parts of the metroplis. Among those still bitterly counting their losses are residents of some communities around Mende area of Maryland in Kosofe Local Government, where several damages were recorded.
The havoc caused many of them to seek tempoaray refuge in hotels. In fact, a number of them have been forced to relocate to far-flung places, including villages and their states of origin.
Vanguard Metro, VM, discovered during a recent visit to the area that a fast growing community called Arowojobe Estate was badly hit by the disaster which also extended to three neighbouring communities, namely: Odutola, Ajao and Soluyi, which by reason of proximity are related. Investigation also revealed that the problems were occasioned more by human factors or activities than nature.
These include illegal construction along or near the canals, dumping of pipes, lack of drainage, erecting of illegal structures, negligence and lawlessness, to mention just a few.
A visit to Arowojobe community revealed that the bridge linking it with neighbouring communities has collapsed for over a decade, while the ground is sinking, a development which has aggravated the suffering of the residents.
In fact, the residents regard the collapsed bridge as a constant threat to safety, apart from denying them access to neighbouring communities. So, they want urgent governmental intervention to remedy the situation and save them from harm.
Some members of Arowojobe Community Development Association, CDA, who pleaded anonymity, said the estate was developed through the individual efforts of residents.
“All the flood generated from Maryland, Onigbongbo and Anthony meet here and is conveyed through the Arowojobe canal to Iya-alaro River. Unfortunately, this canal has not been dredged for a very long time.
About three years ago, a contract was alleged to have been awarded and the contractor came here and cleared about 100 metres of the bridge area from both ends, and that was all we saw. Before now, government used to come and dredge the canal but this has stopped for a while.
The whole canal was silted and filled up and the community is not far from the canal linking Anthony, Gbagada, Akinwumi and Soluyi areas with Arowojobe. Unfortunately, most of the canals have been encroached by residents and this has made it difficult for free flow of water.
We have written the state government on a number of occasions and some representatives have been sent but nothing has happened till now,’’ they explained.
VM discovered during a tour of Arowojobe community that it does not boast of any form of drainage. Apart from this, the collapsed Arowojobe bridge has been blocked, thus preventing water from flowing underneath. VM also noticed a signboard placed at the entrance of the community which reads thus: ‘Project: Dredging of Arowojobe Drainage channel;
Client/Executing Agency: Ministry of environment
Contract period: Nine weeks
For further information, contact: The permanent secretary (ODS)
When VM requested to meet the leadership of the community, some individuals who pleaded anonymity claimed the community has no traditional ruler, that it is being run by the CDA leadership who in turn refused to be quoted or to have their pictures taken.
VM, however, met some indigenes of the area who revealed that the community has a traditional ruler who was installed by the Oloworo of Oworo land about three months ago.
They later led this reporter to meet the traditional ruler in the person of Alhaji Kehinde Arowojobe, a descendant of Arowojobe believed to be the founder of the community. He gave a vivid account of what had transpired in the community over the years.
During a visit to a neighbouring community called Ajao Estate, the indigenes traded allegations of misdeeds against themselves over their non-compliance with the rules and regulations guiding the community, especially the indiscriminate erecting of illegal structures which has worsened the incident of flooding in Arowojobe.
A resident of Arowojobe, Mr. Edwin Badmus, however, said the flood only affected the buildings with shallow foundation. “The Arowojobe bridge has collapsed while government has stopped dredging the canal since year 2008.
The problem with flooding will continue unabated until the canal is properly channelled; this means it has to be channeled through Tolani or Arowojobe. Meanwhile, both communities do not want the canal to be channelled through their land,’’ he said.
As at the time of filing this report, many of the residents seem to have come to terms with their losses and taking solace in God. They will, however, want the Lagos state government to come to their aid.
Another resident at Odutola who simply identified himself as Modupe said: ‘’If you go to Ojota area, you will discover that Odo-Iya-Alaro river is so wide but at Mende area, the river has been encroached upon and silted.
VM also noted that many buildings are located near canals or in erosion-prone spots. But the CDA refuted this and put the blame on neighbouring communities.
On his part, the traditional ruler had this to say: ”The government should come to our aid and repair the collapsed bridge to ameliorate the plight of residents. It should come and channel the canal to allow free flow of water. We want the government to construct another bridge and to dredge the canal’’.
In a telephone chat with the Oloworo of Oworo land, Oba Basiru Oloruntayo, he said the Baale of Arowojobe was installed with the consent of the chieftancy committee of Kosofe Local Government.