By CHARLES ADINGUPU AYO ONIKOYI, EBUN SESSOU
When the last Wednesday downpour began, residents in Lagos and Ogun states were gripped in palpable fear. The almost 24-hour rain which recorded in its wake colossal lose of properties, submerged communities and displaced persons. Saturday Vanguard team reports that vestiges of its aftermath populate the affected areas like sand dunes in the Sahara desert.

In Lagos, apart from the usual gridlock which left commuters stranded in various bus-stops, most Lagosians were confined to the four walls of their homes. Yet, others who made bold to venture out of their homes are currently counting their loses in tears. From one end of the city to the other, the story is the same.

Flooded Lagos

When the last Wednesday downpour began, residents in Lagos and Ogun states were gripped in palpable fear. The almost 24-hour rain which recorded in its wake colossal lose of properties, submerged communities and displaced persons. Saturday Vanguard team reports that vestiges of its aftermath populate the affected areas like sand dunes in the Sahara desert.

In Lagos, apart from the usual gridlock which left commuters stranded in various bus-stops, most Lagosians were confined to the four walls of their homes. Yet, others who made bold to venture out of their homes are currently counting their loses in tears.

From one end of the city to the other, the story is the same.

Owode Ajegunle

At the end of the downpour, Owode Ajegunle residents have started counting their loses. At Irawo, most lock-up stalls were flooded as perishable items cannot be salvaged. A food item vendor who simply gave her name as Justina, stated that she lost not less than three bags of garri, two big bags of beans and six bags of flour.

“If my own is worse, then you have to go further to find out what other sellers have lost. I know of a woman who lost almost eight bags of garri and 14 bags of flour in this neighbourhood.

Most chemist shops also recorded painful lose,”she said.

A resident in Ajegunle, Mr. James Atada said that virtually all his electronic appliances were lost to the ravaging flood which hit the area on that ill-fated Wednesday as he was said to be out-door.

The flood washed away a part of the rail track which coversThe MTTS operates between Ido in Laos and Ijoko in Ogun State covering 35km distance on each trip.

The Nigerian Rail Corporation District Public Relations Officer in Lagos, Mr. Ademuyiwa Adekanbi said that the trains could not operate due to the damaged track by the flood along the Ikeja/Mushin areas.

Now, over 300 passengers escaped death by whiskers last Wednesday night when a 12-coach Lagos-bound train rammed into a Nissan pick-up at Odo-Era, Lafanwa area of Abeokuta. The accident which occurred at about 9am did not record casualty as it was saved from plunging into a gully created by flood which had washed away part of the rail track.

Also, a 17 year old boy, identified as an apprenctice tailor was last Thursday reportedly carried away by the surging flood in Mafoluku area of Oshodi while trying to salvage plank he earlier gathered for sale.

A section of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway carved in at Ajala Bus-Stop and caused heavy gridlock on both sides of the expressway.

Surulere

Recounting his ordeal, Dunsin Owoleye who resides at Ola Street, Itire Surulere, described his 16 months sojourn in Lagos as complete waste. Owoleye who recently relocated from Ibadan to Lagos for greener pastures was caught napping as he lost his six foot refrigerator, television set, DVD player, important documents, shoes and other life essentials to the flood.

Mr. Owoleye who was busy in his place of work when the rain started summarised his loses thus:

“When I got to my  house, the water was above my waist and could barely move my feet to the ground. When I opened opened,  I found everything I had worked for  floating  in the room. Even my six-foot refrigerator  tucked at a corner of the room  was the first thing that  greet me when I opened the door.. My television set, DVD player and even the household utensils were  scattered  on the flood. I could not salvage anything. All my documents, dresses, shoes, everything are all locked up in that room. I just can’t go back. Since that Thursday morning I have been squatting from one place to another” close to tears, he stated.

Though the house next to Dunsin’s house was not so much affected because it stands on higher ground. The owner of that building recently raised the structure  to checkmate the problem of flooding which becomes a ritual.  Most people living in Dunsin’s house sought refuge in the building.

For Felix Nwachukwu, a mini supermarket operator, whose shop is located on Lawanson Road,  Surulere, as he returned to his Twins Street residence, also in Itire, Surulere, said apart from the fact that he was drenched by the rain, the most painful aspect was his books, which he kept on his shelf in the bedroom had soaked in water.”  But I was in for more shocker, by the time I got to the sitting room, my settee, television set, home theatre, and other household items were floating in water,” he said.

Thereafter, Felix and his wife embarked on a salvage mission. He, however, blamed the  situation on sand that blocked the main water-way in the vicinity, which had left the drainage almost blocked.

For people living in Itire, Ijeshatedo, Ikate and environs, flooding is not strange to them. Year in year out, they expect it to happen.. Mr. Bola Bolashodun, who lives in No 8 Ola Street said he had been preparing for  the rain since the beginning of May.

“Everything in my house has a stand. For people like us, there is no such luxury as expensive settees woven in upholstery of leathers or fine fabrics or  lining your floor with rugs. We can afford them but deem it unwise to own them because you will only have to watch them being washed away,” he said.

“I am still dumbfounded and could not believe what had happened. I was still sleeping when I heard a bang on my door and a neighbour shouting asking me to wake up. When I got my leg off the bed to go and open the door I felt the rush of water that almost knocked me off my feet. The water was high up to my torso and immediately I looked around to see most of my things floating round.”

Mr Bolashodun however, blamed the  flood on a road construction project going on in Ibidunni  and Lawani Streets, two streets adjacent to theirs. The construction process has seen to the blockage of the water channel thereby cutting short drainage of the water-ways.

.A landlord on Ijesha Road who will not want his name mentioned, said that the  recently constructed road by Governor Raji Fashola has left many of the houses on the stretch of the road now sitting below the road. For many of them who could not raise enough money to re-develop their houses to be on the same plane as the road, a little rainfall could bring misery.  To them, flood does not come through the doors, the walls or from the grounds, it comes through the windows. At this time of the year, many of the occupants vacate their homes like migratory birds who leave at the beginning of winter and only return in summer.

From Itire to Ikate, from Aguda to Ijeshatedo, it is the same story of woes as floods sack hundreds people from their homes. People living in Karounwi Street up to Alhaji Otun Streets at the tail end of Nnobi Street Ikate Surulere live under  perpetual threat of the canal behind the streets overflowing it banks. And every year, the canal thus overflows its bank, at least twice in a rainy season.

Mr Joe Taye, a single father of Three, working with the Lagos state Water Corporation and living on Alhaji Otun Street has had to evacuate his home more often than he can remember. In his own words: “ Normally, we don’t experience serious flooding in this area except down the street where the land is on a lower ground. But sometimes when the rain is too heavy, we run the risk of this canal here overflowing and washing away our belongings. Believe me my brother, the situation is better imagined than experienced. Every night it rains and when it happened consistently for days we don’t sleep anymore with our two eyes closed.

Other flood is the flood-prone areas in Surulere were Bishop and Fashoro streets. Here, in the area a canal runs across and whenever it rains, the usually beautiful, neat and serene environment becomes a whirlpool of tempestuous ocean, swallowing everything in its path. Mr. Bamishile who once lived in the area said rainy season to them means suspension of all activities.

For many residents of Ijora, Pedro and Ileje areas of Bariga, Orile-Iganmu and Okota, the rainy season is a reminder of  poverty. These areas are densely populated and poorly planned and those factors, according to informed minds, aid the occurrence of flood anytime it rains.

The floods, which affected not less than 1,500 homes in Ajegunle alone last year, has recorded tremendous loss of properties, farmlands and infrastructure, including houses and schools. It was attributed largely to the effects of global warming and its attendant rise in water levels, as well as intense and prolonged rainfalls that year, resulting to overflows from the Ogun River and surrounding tributaries.

The rain has also damaged a canal at the end of Ladoja Street in Oko Oba area of Agege leading to the closure of Ladoja Primary School and Oko Oba Nursery and Primary School in the area. Many houses along the canal were flooded as residents were seen bailing water out of their homes.

The floods took over the bridge along Akute-Alagbole Berge road, thereby cutting off vehicular movement of the Yakoyo area of Ogun State. It also sacked part of the Yokoyo community and displaced some residents.

Apongbon

An okada rider who shared his experience with Saturday Vanguard lamented that since the first phase of the heavy downpour that flooded Lagos, he has not been able to return home.

“You will be surprised that my family and I are presently living apart as a result of the flood. I only see my family once in three days. They are putting up with my sister-in-law while I am squatting with a friend.

“As you can see, I am an okada rider, my house has been flooded and I don’t have enough money to get it back. My children cannot go to school right now and we are homeless. I do not understand why the poor would have to go through this pain and agony.

I only use this okada business to put body and soul together. I don’t know what to do because the after effect of the flood has created more sorrows for me than good”, he concluded.

Residents in areas as Apongbon in Lagos Island and Ejigbo, Ikotun areas of Lagos, are also counting their losses as a result of the downpour.

Also, those living in low-line areas, particularly along lagoons, drainage, channels and rivers are yet to

come out of the havoc.

It was also learnt that in Anwar-DI-Islam Primary School, Apongbon, pupils were forced to vacate their . classrooms, following the massive flooding of their premises on Monday.

They were forced to relocate to an uncompleted building in a junior secondary school, which is scheduled to take off in September.

It was gathered that the rain, which started since Sunday night, had made the classrooms inhabitable for learning. Teachers and pupils abandoned the flooded five-classroom block as it had become weak, Vanguard learnt.

It was also revealed that a section of the block has been submerged while cracks were noticed on the walls.

The school’s assistant headmaster, Mr Saka Lasisi, said that the school was usually flooded because of its location.

“The school is usually flooded anytime it rains as water from parts of the community flows into the school premises.

“The block is already sinking with cracks on the walls and that is why we were forced to relocate to a new block in the junior secondary school within the premises,” he said.

Lasisi said apart from the flooding which had forced them to abandon their building, the school’s toilet

facilities had also become a s.helter for reptiles and dangerous animals.

Also, .residents in Awoyaya area oflbeju-Lekki have continued to groan under the traumatic expenence as a result ofthe flood.

An okada rider, John Anakoaputa who has b en living in the area for the past ten years said the adverse effect of the flood came as a result of improper drainage channels and bad roads.

He said, the problem came as a result of  dredgers who ply through the area in their heavy duty trucks.

“They have destroyed our roads and made the road immotorable for the residents, he said.

When asked to comment on the after effect of flood in the area, he lamented that with the flood residents now groan in pain as none of the residents can no longer pass through the area with ease .

Virtually all parts of Lagos State including Victoria Island, Lekki, Abule Egba, Ikeja, Apapa, Oshodi, Ikorodu, Agege, Okokomaiko, Ketu were flooded, forcing residents to stay indoors, while those on the streets battled it out.

A number of houses and vehicles were submerged by the flood, while most motorcycle operators, otherwise known as Okada riders, are finding it difficult to ply through the roads.

A kiosk owner Sikiru who spoke to Saturday Vanguard said he had to close shop because of the down pour not just because of the intensity of the rain but because his kiosk which was built across a drainage system was covered.

Meanwhile when Saturday Vanguard visited Ibeju- Lekki local government area chairman for his reaction, he was said to be indisposed. Only a few women were sighted at the premises. Although, there were about three security guards at the entrance of the gate.

Unfortunately, neither the chairman, Prince Bayo Balogun nor his co-workers were available as at press time.  However, efforts to contact him on phone also proved abortive.

No one can also tell if there was a Public Relation Officer in the local government who is also saddled with the responsibility of giving out information.

In Katsina, another torrential rainfall which lasted for about three hours killed seven persons including a primary school pupil and 120 houses destroyed at the weekend.

According to a witness, Mallam Abdullahi Aliyu, the primary school pupil, Al-Amin Rufa, lost his life in the flood. It was also gathered that over 340 houses were affected by the flood, while 120 of them caved in.

Mallam Abdullahi Aliyu of Kofar Marusa, a suburb of Katsina which was also affected by the flood, said: “One of the deceased, Abdullahi Shitu, a JSS 3 student of Government College Katsina, fell into the culvert while trying to rescue a woman who came out from her house accompanied by her two kids looking for assistance.”

He narrated: “When he fell into the culvert, the water pushed him to a nearby bridge and one of his colleagues, who was around the mosque, jumped into the water with the intention to rescue late Abdullahi, but while heading towards him, a woman shouted for help after she had put her two children on a wall in order to rescue them from being taken away by the water.”

According to him, late Abdullahi’s corpse and that of little Al-Amin were found at Tudun-Katsira in Kofar-Marusa area the following day.

Aliyu added that when they went to Tudun-Katsira in search of late Abdullahi the following day, they also saw four corpses of other victims around Lambun Sarki. The corpses included that of a boy and an aged woman.

Another victim, Alhaji Sani Muhammad, who lost his house, said: “I was among the first settlers in the area, but for the past 20 years, the community has never witnessed a flood disaster like this time around.”

Also,the rain wreaked havoc in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, leaving many buildings, including religious centres submerged. It took the efforts of men of the state fire service to prevent some residents of the flooded areas from being washed away.

Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, also recorded another flood, few days after the one that destroyed properties, bridges and roads. A petrol station also collapsed in the torrential rain in the city.

A driver of a Starlet taxi car, while trying to avoid a flooded portion at Bode area of Ibadan, was washed off by the flood. The driver could not be seen, when the car was stopped around Soka area of the metropolis.

Meanwhile, the popular Secretariat-University of Ibadan and the Iwo Road under bridge, were flooded as a result of the rain.

Lagos State govt

The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Tunji Bello warned that the Wednesday and Thursday rain will occur many times within the next two weeks.

He disclosed this  will be accompanied with severe windstorm. He stated that experts had said the next two weeks were envisaged to be the peak  of this year’s raining season.

Consequently, he advised residents living along low line areas of Eti-Osa, Badiya, Amukoko, Makoko, Iwaya, Ajegunle, Owode and Agiliti to vacate during this period and move to upland. He advised against dumping of waste into canals and erecting of structures along drainage channels.

In New Garage in Bariga, a section of a building collapsed leaving one person dead and many others injured.

Disclaimer

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