By Jude Njoku, Kingsley Adegboye, Olasukanmi Akoni & Bose Adelaja
For most Lagos residents, the popular adage that water does not have an enemy may not be true after-all. This is because flood water, akin to the biblical deluge, swept through the city on Sunday, leaving some dead, others homeless and properties, estimated at several millions of Naira, destroyed.
It was indeed a dark Sunday for many Lagos residents, particularly those who ventured to drive out of their homes as they were stuck in the traffic gridlock that characterised virtually all parts of the metropolis. Some motorists spent over eight hours to shuttle between Sanya and Alaba on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, a distance that could have been covered in less than three minutes on a good day.
Several vehicles, including the expensive four-wheel drives which could not navigate through the overflowing water, got stuck midway. The level of flood water between First Rainbow and Second Rainbow made commuting on the expressway simply impossible.
Trust the ubiquitous Lagos miscreants otherwise called Area Boys, they were everywhere, directing some of the motorists to their waterloo, all in a bid to extort money from them. The persistent downpour which started in the wee hours of the day wreaked havoc in various parts of the city.
In Surulere, a tricycle conveying some passengers was allegedly swept into the Akerele Canal near Eko Hospital by the rampaging flood. A resident of the area, Mr. John Williams, explained that three of the passengers lost their lives while some good Samaritans rescued the driver of the Keke.
It was also a tale of woes for residents of Amukoko, Ajegunle and Sari-Iganmu, three sprawling slums in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Apapa Local Government areas. Most residents of these neighbourhoods who were displaced by the rising flood which was made worse by the blocked drainages and canals, are now seeking refuge in churches and homes of friends and relations who were lucky to live in better apartments.
Confirming this development to Vanguard, a resident of the area, Mr Orji Okere said no fewer than two families are taking refuge in his house. “The canal that links Ugbenwankwo with Amukoko overflowed its banks and poured its dirty contents into neighbouring houses.
Our church which is located at Olubuade Street in the area has been completely taken over by the flood. This has never happened since we moved into the area over 13 years ago,” he said
Apart from these neighbourhoods, other areas seriously affected by the deluge include Egbeda, Agege, Ojo, Ipaja-Ayobo, Igando, Orile as well as Ahmadu Bello Way and parts of Adeola Odeku Street on Victoria Island. Also affected were Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja, especially the round-about linking Oba Akran Way and Jakande Estate, Oyingbo, Ebute-Metta, Ijegun, Ilasamaja, Ladipo, Ajegunle, Ile-Epo. The flood swept away saloon cars, buses and SUV vehicles to a far destinations.
The scenario was so bad that Governor Babatunde Fashola quickly announced a holiday for public schools and ordered residents to stay indoors until the flood abates.
But his Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa claimed that what happened was flash flooding which will recede after the downpour.
Opeifa said the government was taking steps to avert a possible disaster in parts of the state where the situation are prone to critical situation.
Commuting through the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, particularly opposite the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex was like going through the biblical needle’s eye because flood water took over the entire stretch of road. Some motorists who spoke to Vanguard said they had to wade through the rain waters which rose to door level of their cars. The development, they said, resulted into heavy traffic jams as vehicles moved at snail-pace to avoid running into potholes that dotted the roads.
It was a similar situation at the U-turn close to Abule-Ado Bus-stop where flood took over the road leading to Satellite Town.
Passengers were also left stranded at bus-stops as only few commercial buses plied the road yesterday. Many of them were seen hibernating at Alakija Bus- stop shed and rushed at intervals to board buses as they (buses) approached the bus-stops.
Residents of Ikorodu who heeded the call of the state government to embark on tree planting to combat deforestation and climate change, almost regretted the action Sunday. This was because a tree which suddenly fell at Ilado Bus-stop of Igbogbo/Bayeku area of Ikorodu compounded the woes of residents of the neighbourhood.
The incident which occured around 8.30 pm after the downpour, prevented motorists from Igbogbo from accessing Bayeku and vice versa.
Many stranded motorists left their vehicles on the road while commuters also disembarked from the vehicles and trekked the remaining distance. This caused a gridlock in the early hours of Monday until some youths mobilised and cut the trees into pieces. Some of the youths told Vanguard that the tree collapsed because its roots had been washed away by erosion.