By Emeka Mamah & Ola Akoni
Over 1, 500 families in Egbe/ Ejigbo and Isheri in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State have raised alarm following the alleged illegal closure of the of the Egbe / Ejigbo Canal by a prominent church leader in the area, who they said, claimed that the portion of the canal belonged to him.
They said that further closure of the canal would lead to catastrophic consequences during this year’s rainy season.
In several petitions to Governor Babatunde Fashola, and the state Ministry of Environment, the residents stated that the closure of the canal had led to the stoppage of work on its dredging by the state government and appealed to the governor to intervene on their behalf because of the implications to the people now that the wet season was fast approaching.
One of the petitions entitled, ‘’Environmental Impact Assessment of the Dredging of the Egbe/ Ejigbo Canal: Feed back,’’ by residents of Ailegun East, Gloryland, Balogun Ifesowapo and Praise Land among others under the aegis of Unity Community Development Association.
According to the petition, which was jointly signed by the Chairman of the Unity Community Development Association, Mr J. K Akintujoye and the Secretary, Boniface Meghai , they stated, ‘’We want to bring to your esteemed attention, some serious challenges stalling the progress of this noble project- the dredging of Egbe/ Ejigbo Canal meant to de-flood Ejigbo, Egbe, Isheri, Oke-Afa down to the sea.
‘’The company dredging the canal was prevented from dredging some long stretch of the canal because an individual and owner of a church (names withheld) claimed that some portions are his private property. This is shocking and very disturbing.
‘’We pray Your Excellency give this an urgent attention to avoid any catastrophy during the rainy seaon, more so when a very deep open gutter, 10 feet deep at some portions, along Egbe/Ejigbo Road will not find where to empty its contents.
‘’Some land speculators have also stalled the dredging near the newly reconstructed Ejigbo Abattoir, thereby preventing the abattoir from evacuating its waste into the canal. The health hazard which this will cause in the community and beyond cannot be over- emphasised.’’
‘’The dredging of the canal is to avoid flooding in the communities, not to encourage it inadvertently at some point. Therefore, the bridge under construction at the Isheri portion should not stall free flow of water…’’
In another reminder to the governor, the communities asked Fashola and the state Commissioner for Environment to visit the area even if with a helicopter to see things for themselves, insisting that the course of the canal was massively altered by an individual to the detriment of the ‘’downtrodden members of these communities who will pay with properties and possibly lives to massage the ego, greed and the aesthetic dream of prominent members’’ of the society.
‘’Should impunity be endorsed and or covered because it is the game of the rich and the poor man has no voice?
‘’With all humility, we are requesting that the illegal canal be filled up… The original canal water way should be maintained without distortion. Eko Oni Baqje o! ‘’
Efforts made by Saturday Vanguard to get the reaction of the Ministry of Environment on the issue proved abortive.
However, a source in the ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the development, saying the ministry received complaints from the association over the drainage blockade, adding that investigation was on-going.