By Evelyn Usman

Rain has a multitude of benefits to the earth which includes watering crops,  humidifying the air, replenishing the water table and  redistribution of fresh water in the water cycle.

Unfortunately, the severity of the flood caused by last weekend’s heavy down pour has rubbished the benefits of the rain for some residents of Lagos , as several families have been forcefully ejected from their homes.

Sango Otta flooded

Peace Home Valley Estate Community Development Area , at Oke Afa, Isolo area of Ejigbo, was one of the several areas affected by last weekend’s flood in Lagos. At the moment, some families whose buildings were submerged by flood have evacuated their homes for fear of an impending disaster. Those who summoned courage to remain were forced to stay indoors until the flood level receded to tolerable level. Residents who were compelled to leave their homes in search of their daily bread had to wade through the stagnant pool which was at waist level , with knee -high boots, as roads leading out of the CDA were completely inaccessible.

When Saturday Vanguard visited the CDA, shops were under lock and keys while occupants of bungalows and ground floors displayed their flood- ridden property on top of their vehicles. Most apartments in bungalow building were still in disarray, with some occupants scooping water which was coming from beneath the earth.

Investigation revealed that the CDA which comprises ten streets ,was at the receiving end of flood from Jakande estate, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo, Ailegun and Bucknor areas, as it empties there. The affected streets are : Azombe, Omololu Fatumbi, Sam Chuks, Vineyard , Esther Ibekwe, Juril, Babatunde shogbesan, KC Emmanuel and Ase streets

Owner of one of the buildings on Esther Ibekwe street, which was submerged by flood, Alhaji Salu Bello, who watched helplessly disclosed that aside the flood from other areas which empties in the CDA, some persons had erected buildings on the waterway.

According to him “When I moved here in 2005, the situation was never like this because there were only few houses here then and water flowed freely. But this flood problem started seven years ago, when people started blocking the waterways with their buildings. That is the major challenge we are facing.”

In a move to proffer solution to the perennial flood, Chairman of Peace Home Valley Estate Community Development Area , Sir Ikechukwu Ezeonyeka , stated that the CDA had written several letters to the Lagos state government on the need to construct a drainage earth channel that would channel the flood to a primary canal. He said that they had been told that contract to the effect had been approved but wondered why no action had taken place since the assurances were made.

Ezeonyeka lamented that “  We have been facing this flood for years and we have drawn government’s attention to it since 2013. We were at Ejigbo LCDA where we were told that it was beyond their purview and suggested that we too k it to the Ministry of Environment. We have written to the Ministry and in response during one of the meetings, we were told that in the map , our area ought to have an earthen channel, which they called Jakande /Bucknor/Oke-Afa earth channel, that will take water coming from Ejigbo , Aiyelegun and Buckno, down to Jakande/Ijegun road, from where it would be channeled down to the primary canal which runs all the way from Airport down to Ajao estate, Oke-Afa and Mile two, that is the primary canal.

They assured us that the construction would be done soon. The assurance was give since 2013 but till date, nothing has been done. What they have done so far was to do the mapping out and pegging. During this process, they said that there were contraventions and that the next thing they would do would be to mark the contraventions and serve the defaulters papers . We visit the Ministry of Environment on quarterly basis .

They said they have set out a project and that a drainage that will take water along that route to alleviate our sufferings would be constructed. We are also aware that the construction has been approved . But each time we visited, we were told that what was holding them was allocation of funds. Saturday’s flood pulled down several fences, people could not go out of their apartments because of the flood and vehicles could not move out because the whole area was flooded”, he lamented.

As the time of this report, the CDA had so far sent four letters to the Ministry of the Environment. The last reminder letter was sent in February, 2017 . It reads “ We write in respect to the construction of the above mentioned Drainage earth channel. It is indeed with   a feeling of near hopelessness and impending disaster that this reminder is being sent. It is nothing new now to all the parties involved; the CDAs around the canal area and the Lagos State Government that the canal as proposed will bring tremendous relief to residents in the area and at the same time provide a natural exit route for all flooded areas around Bucknor , Ejigbo, Jakande estate, Oke-Afa and environs.

“After the meetings of the CDAs with top engineers and officials of the Lagos state Ministry of Environment on several occasions, we were assured of government desire to rid the area of this flooding problem and that since the route of the canal had been established , its construction or even earthening was on the way. To our greatest disappointment , the channel has not been dug/earthen up till the time of writing this letter.

“In as much as we understand the reason behind the delay, we would also want to report that residents are suffering from all forms of illness due to stagnant waters left behind by the flood. The government through the ministry has also made us to understand that the need for that canal cannot be over emphasised since it serves to drain waters from Ejigbo , Bucknor and Jakande estate that exit into Oke-Afa canal. By this medium, the affected CDAs wish to plead with the government not to relent in its efforts to see that the canal is completed and the suffering of the people in that area brought to an end.

“Another issue that also comes to mind is building collapse which could be caused by constant exposure of buildings to flood water. We know that no government wants to have such an emergency on its hands.”

When contacted, Director, Drainage Construction and Water Resources department of the Ministry of the Environment , Engr. Oduyemi Oladeinde Alim , stated that construction of drainage in major areas of Lagos had begun. Noting that this year’s flood orchestrated by the heavy downpour was not peculiar to Nigeria alone but other parts of the world, Alim also attributed the cause on some Lagosians who he said built houses on the waterways.

He said : “ If you observe well, you will see that some of the residents at the estate in question don’t have Drainage Impact Assessment , DIA. Aside the fact that Peace Valley estate is low, most of them never wrote to my office to indicate that they wanted to build. Ask them if they have building approval, they don’ t have. The populace are our problem, they buy canal and build on it”.

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