By Kingsley Adegboye
The residents of Abule Oki and eight other adjoining communities in Agbado-Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos state have appealed to the state government to complete the dredging and concrete lining of the Aboru canal.
According to them, the completion of the concrete lining of the Arigbanla canal has exposed, and put them at the mercy of a deluge of flood which at its peak often rises up to nine feet, thereby submerging everything in the communities and destroying lives and property.
Rising from a meeting last Thursday, the residents urged the state Governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola to; “save them and their properties from the ‘confluence of fury’ of the flood in their neighbourhood.”
They argued that they had continued to suffer environmental degradation as a result of government’s effort to deflood some parts of the state.
They said their communities, which has been laid waste by flood had never experienced such and had been immune to the savagery of the floods until the area became a melting point for about eight separate flood water paths. Abule Oki especially, they claimed, now receives waste water from Ahmaddiya, Agbelekale/Ekoro, Papa Ashafa/Mulero, Orile Agege/Dopemu, Oke Shagun, Akinola and Oke-Odo/Abule Egba.
They noted that “Many more canals have been channeled into this area, leaving Abule Oki, Akinola, Raji Rasaki and adjoining communities more devastated by the flood abatement activities of the government,” a resident said. The Chairman of the Committee on Canal Dredging of the communities, Alhaji Kamarudeen Bamidele said Abule Oki which is the confluence point for all the flood water channeled to the area is worse hit as the contractor Messrs Dully Dredging and Construction Company have abandoned the work.
The chairman said residents are not happy that the 12 months tenure project, which was awarded in February 2012 and ought to have been completed since January 2013 had been abandoned, with dire consequences to the people. Bamidele, a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) retiree, said several lives had been lost, while others lost their means of livelihood due to the perennial flooding as a result of the neglect of the canal dredging.
“Personally, I lost over N14 million in a fish pond investment in 2011, when we experienced the worst devastating flood that necessitated this canal dredging. Several landlords lost their homes to the flood and many tenants relocated because the entire area became submerged. So many houses sunk and several houses were abandoned and were overgrown with weeds as if they were virgin lands.”
But the area was never that prone to flood, according to Superior Evangelist Stephen Oduntan of the Celestial Church of Christ who is also the Vice Chairman of the Canal Dredging Committee.
“This area was never prone to flood when I moved into this area in the 70s,” he recalled. Continuing, he said: “We were never troubled by flood. Infact, this same river that is now heavily polluted was where we baptize new converts. Everything changed a little over a decade ago and since then things have never been the same again”, Oduntan noted.
Bamidele said everybody in the government, including the governor and the two concerned Ministries of the Environment and Information and Strategy, knew about the plight of his people in the hands of the confluence of fury.