By Bose Adelala
OFFICIALS of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA and their federal counterparts in the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, should do well to pay a visit to the Arowojobe Village via Mende-Maryland in order to avert an imminent disaster. This is because residents in this ancient community in Kosofe Local Government of Lagos State are presently facing grave danger on account of the precarious nature of the only bridge linking them to neighbouring communities.
“Passing through that bridge is like a suicide decision. But we have no choice since it’s the only bridge that links us to other areas. And that is why we’re appealing to government come to our aid and reconstruct this bridge which has been sinking for over a decade,’’ cried the residents during Vanguard Metro’s visit to the area.
Indeed, the residents have since the destruction wrought by the July 10, 2012 flood intensified their prayers and appeal for for a new drainage channel to be constructed and the community road to rehabilitated before the 2013 rains unleash their fury on them in terms of flood.
Their fear derives from the possibility that the next heavy rain might lead to the collapse of the Arowojobe bridge, thus cutting them off from other communities. They informed that it was against this backdrop that they have made several representations to the Lagos State government through the appropriate authorities.
While still braving the dangers of using the decrepit bridge in their journeys to other areas, residents say in the absence of any other alternative not taking the risk will only leave them marooned in their rustic community. They blamed their unenviable situation to prolonged government neglect of their area, notwithstanding some palliative work done before now.
Although some soil tests have been carried out on the sinking bridge, the result has as yet been revealed just as disaster continues to loom large everyday.
Constructed about 25 years ago, the Arowojobe bridge only served the community for about five years before it began to sink. All efforts by residents to halt the slide and resuscitate the bridge have so far proved abortive.
Sadly also, the bridge has become a dumping ground for refuse collectors, a reason for which it is usually overflooded whenever it rains.
As at the time of filing this report, residents fear that the collapsed section of the bridge exposes them to constant danger, apart from denying them access to neighbouring communities. So, they want urgent governmental intervention.
Some of them who spoke with this reporter said they have cried to the government on several occasions and are yet to receive any positive response to end their suffering and put smiles on their faces.
Traditional ruler cries out: The traditional ruler of the town, Chief Kehinde Arowojobe, who believes commercial activities of the town are under serious threat as result of the present condition of the bridge also called on government to take steps to remedy the situation. ‘’I know the Governor is still mourning the loss of his father but we want him to save us from the impending danger and reconstruct the bridge so that water can flow easily.
The bridge has been sinking for the the past two decades and can no longer hold water. Apart from that, it is no longer accessible to heavy duty vehicles. After the 2011 flood, the Yahweh drainage was constructed to check further flooding here, but we also need the Governor’s intervention on Arowojobe bridge so that we are not cut off from our neighbouring communities,’’ the traditional ruler pleaded.
Our source of livelihood is threatened — Traders
Some petty traders in the community, Madam Baliks Jayeoba and Mrs Gloria Nzeribe, expressed fear that soon it would no longer be possible to pass through the bridge. ‘’Trading is our source of livelihood and this is being threatened as we are unable to access the bridge. And if this happens, how will we be able to train our children or put food on the table. Please help us beg the government to come to our aid,’’ they cried.
Also, a medical doctor Ademola Oladosu, said : ‘’Water easily flows back at the base of the bridge because the pipes underneath are narrow and when it rains, so much garbage are deposited inside the canal’’.
Buttressing Oladosu’s view, Prophet Oluwademilade Akpata of Divine Ewulomi Pentecostal Church of Christ, Cherubim and Seraphim, asked government to come to their aid, ‘’the government carried out a palliative measure in the time past but this is not enough. The Commissioner for the Environment and Council Chairman are aware about our plight which we believe has been channeled to the government.’’