By OLASUNKANMI AKONI, EVELYN USMAN & MONSUR OLOWOPEJO
LAGOS—THE pain inflicted on Lagosians by the torrential downpour last Sunday bit harder, yesterday, when 25 corpses were recovered including those of 11 children.
The corpses were recovered from two canals at Dopemu and Aboru, in old Alimosho Local Government Area and Agbado-Oke Odo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, among other areas , even as property worth several billions of Naira were destroyed.
Some of those who died included occupants of a Toyota saloon car who were trying to maneouvre through the flood and ended up in a ditch. At the time of this report, several families were still looking for their relations and loved ones who have not been either seen or heard from since the rains stopped.
State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, who led a team of government officials, including the commissioner for environment, Mr. Tunji Bello and his Transport counterpart, Kayode Opeifa, to assess the level of devastation by the flood which was the worst to hit the state in recent times, however, assured that his administration would do everything within its power to alleviate the plight of the residents.
Most of the residents who lamented their ordeal at various spots during the inspection, appealed to the Governor to come to their rescue, because, according to them, they have lost their life savings to the flood with nowhere to relocate to.
Some of the worst-hit areas which Fashola inspected included: Mobil Filling Station, Ogba, where the fence of a company collapsed due to flood, Odejobi Street off Iju Road Agege, Abattoir canal in Orile-Agege Local Government Area, Abeokuta – Lagos Expressway failed portion of the road at Obadeyi Busstop, and Aboru canal, at Iyana-Ipaja end of Abeokuta-Lagos Expressway among others.
The flood also affected high brow areas including Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Apapa where property like vehicles, office equipment and house hold property were destroyed.
Disruption of transmission
The premises of Silver-Bird Communications, Lekki in Lagos Island and Channels Television, Isheri North, along Lagos Ibadan Expressway were submerged by the flood disrupting transmission temporary.
A source told Vanguard that in the early hours of Monday when the flood had receded, three dead bodies suspected to have drowned as a result of the previous day’s rainfall were removed at Aboru community, Agbado-Okeodo LCDA.
An eyewitness and a resident of the area, Mr. Kasali Akinwale said, “the incident occurred on Sunday when a Toyota car was manoeuvering through the flood, but unknown to the driver, he ran into a ditch and drowned with other occupants of the vehicle.”
When contacted on the incident, the Vice Chairman of the Council, Mr Austin Arogun said some people died because they could not distinguish between the roads and the drainage channels already covered by the flood.
He also attributed the high death toll to what he described as ‘’the unnecessary exposure of people to the canal which is still under construction without any barrier or warning signals’’.
Also at Dopemu, Agege area, residents of 16, Adesokan Street, wailed uncontrollably as the officials of the state Fire Service from Agege removed the corpse of a 22-year old Muri Olanrewaju who died inside a sewage tank.
It was learnt that Olanrewaju slipped into the sewage pit that was already submerged by flood.
Though, the state government had on Sunday asked school children to stay away from their schools yesterday, because of the effect of the heavy down pour, civil servants also seized the opportunity to stay away, as many of them tried to rescue their already damaged propertyincluding house hold items like electronics, vehicles among others from the flood.
Fashola, who inspected areas affected by the flood on Monday, empathized with victims who lost their relatives and properties to the flood.
He, however, warned that the state government will immediately commence the enforcement of a new regime of laws affecting the environment, stressing that such matters would no longer be compromised.
“Those who are in buildings that we have marked as structurally unstable or those who built on canals should leave the building immediately because we are coming to take possession, we are not going to risk human lives anymore.
“My sympathy goes to the people affected in the flood. I condole with people who lost children or properties; they should know I am with them, I will be making an appeal to the President to help with funds to relocate and resettle flood victims. I will also write to the Federal Government on the failed portion of Abeokuta Expressway. We hope the Federal Government would respond because we havevirtually lost that road and traffic will be terrible,” Fashola said, while inspecting areas affected by the flood.
He said: “Those who are in buildings that we have marked as structurally unstable or those who built on canals and drainage channels should vacate the building immediately because we are coming to take possession, we are not going to risk human lives anymore. My sympathy goes to the people affected in the flood. I condole with people who lost children or properties; they should know am with them, I will be making an appeal to the president to help with fund to relocate and resettle flood victims.
“I will also write to the federal government on the failed portion of Abeokuta Expressway. We hope the FG would respond because we have virtually lost that road and traffic will be terrible.”
However, unconfirmed report in Akara area of Alagbado, had it that a yet to be identified young man, about 25 years old, was killed on Sunday night when a wall fell on him. He was said to be returning from an outing when the fence, which was obviously weakened by the flood collapsed on him, killing him instantly. The deceased’s fiance is said to be pregnant and they were billed for wed next month.
Stay at home
directive of pupils
Following the stay at home directive on Monday, the public schools and some private schools remained shut. The directive was to avert a possible disaster such as school children being swept away in the floods which ravaged most parts of the metropolis. Businesses were also at a low ebb in different locations on Monday as some offices did not open until noon.
Some workers who left their houses early in the morning for their offices could not make to their work places, as they were forced to return home as the rain started again, coupled with scarcity of commercial buses on the roads just as some pupils who reported in their schools were immediately turned back by the school management in compliance with the governor directive.
Lagos ACN sympathizes with residents
The Lagos State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN has sent its message of condolence to the victims of the unprecedented flooding in Lagos on Sunday and indeed to all Lagosians over the flooding experience. The party says it shares the grief of many Lagosians that were subjected to the harrowing effects of the day-long torrential rainfall and says that the Lagos State government is committed to avoid a repeat experience in the future.
In a statement by the Lagos State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, noted that that it was a thing of joy that the flood was gradually easing off few hours after the rain and that the state government environmental officials worked through the flood to ease the situation.
ACN stated: “We are alarmed that what is turning out to be global scourge of flooding is hitting Lagos, and many other parts of the country with the kind of force we all experienced on Sunday. That rain started as early as 5.00am in some parts of Lagos and lasted to well into the early hours of Monday is an unprecedented experience that was worsened by the volume of the rains.”
28 families homeless in Ajegunle
The resultant effect of Sunday’s twenty-hour down pour which continued for the better part of yesterday, had its toil on several families, some of who were sacked from their abodes yesterday.
In Ajegunle area of Lagos, over twenty-eight families have been rendered homeless, as four buildings which foundations were weakened by the heavy down pour, caved in.
Although no life was lost but the homeless families watched helplessly as their hard earned property floated on the flood. Buildings affected included those on numbers 4A, 7, 8 Okatapo street and another on Young lane.
Others whose apartments are still flooded, had to relocate members of their families, children in particular , to their relatives homes.
Number 8 Okatapo street, according to report, caved in at about 6.30pm, Sunday. Just as sympathizers were helping out with property of those affected, part of number 4A collapsed yesterday at about 7.30am. At about 4pm, numbers 7 and that on Young lane also caved in.
At Jakande estate, Oke-Afa Isolo, a woman and her eleven-month -old baby escaped death by the whiskers Sunday night, after they were carried away by the resultant flood of the twenty-hour down pour.
The woman identified as Mrs Nkechi Ngbidi, was reportedly on a visit from the eastern part of the country. She was said to have been stranded in the gridlock,resulting in her arriving the estate at about 11pm.
Report said they were being carried away by the torrents around sewage area,when some concerned residents who were also returning late, rescued them. The baby simply identified as Tochukwu was thereafter rushed to an unidentified hospital as he had gulped some of the dirty water .
This is just as the residents have called on the urgent need for the state government and management of the Power Holding of Nigeria Plc Company to find a lasting solution to the high tension wire around mechanic junction. The call came following report of electrocution anytime it rained.
Just yesterday, unsuspecting workers and traders who covered themselves with umbrellas while it was raining, almost got electrocuted on arriving the junction.
Barely two months ago, a commercial motorcyclist reportedly met his untimely end ,following an explosion at the junction.
Meanwhile, a visit to Olodi Apapa and Ajegunle areas of Lagos, revealed the sufferings of most Lagosians who have been sacked from their homes by flood. Mustapha, Lawani, Rashidi, Apana, Babatunde,Isikalu lane among other streets were most affected as the residents were sighted still bailing water out of their apartments. At a point, most of them gave up, as water kept coming out from the ground.
Most shanties around Orile and Oyingbo were completely brought down by the rain, with the helpless residents watching the situation with their hands folded.