By Agbonkhese Oboh
Residents of Oworonshoki and Gbagada in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State have raised the alarm about the lack of public water and basic social amenities in their communities.
They also lamented what they described as “betrayal” by their elected representatives at all levels of government, whom they accused of serially reneging on promises of providing lacking social amenities for them.
The community people aired their views in a town hall meeting, last week, at the residence of the Baale of Idi-Araba, Chief Emmanuel Olorunwa when a team from Corporate Accountability and Public Participation, CAPPA, visited to obtain first-hand information on how they are coping with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baale of Idi-Araba, Chief Emmanuel Olorunwa, while welcoming the team explained that Gbagada and Oworonshoki communities had suffered neglect under successive administrations in Lagos, hence their SOS message to the incumbent governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Mrs. Adeola Gbadamosi, a mother of five children, narrated how women in the community wake up as early as 5a.m. to look for water and most times spend as much as N1,000 a day to get water from private water vendors.
Adeola also revealed that the situation in the communities, particularly Oworonshoki waterfront, was worse during the rains as people find it almost impossible to wade through the mud and waste that take up the only access road.
Another resident, Iya Aafin Oluwaloremi, said the failure of government to provide pipe-borne water has forced many of the locals to depend solely on people with means for tap water or the private water vendors patronised at exorbitant rates.
She added that “you cannot imagine how much we spend for just a pale of water, talk more of the number that can satisfy domestic and other uses.
“Life here is very hard and can best be described as punishment.”
Chief Imam of Idi-Araba, Alhaji AbdulFatai Adedeji, who said he has resided in the community since 1982, revealed that public water never worked for a day in the community, even as he added that LWC pipes terminated at the entrance of the Oworo waterfront.
He added that efforts to get the Corporation to extend the pipes to the waterfront communities were turned down by the Corporation’s officials, who asked them to connect to people in high ground to get water.
Speaking further, he stressed that the only semblance of hope was when Rotary Club installed a borehole which, to their chagrin, did not work for a day.
His views were corroborated by another resident, Femi Akingbala, who said the situation had become so bad that residents drink unwholesome water and suffer regular bouts of cholera and typhoid fever.
CAPPA’s COVID-19 concerns
Earlier, CAPPA Programmes Director, Philip Jakpor, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic made the visit more expedient.
He noted that CAPPA was interested in finding out what the state government had put in place in communities as a follow-up to its sustained public health advocacy message on the need for residents to wash their hands regularly.
He revealed that current lack of water will aggravate under a privatisation regime and force those who cannot pay to explore unwholesome sources that may inadvertently expose them to illnesses including the coronavirus.
According to him, some of CAPPA’s recommendations to resolve the water crisis includes immediate steps on the part of the Lagos government to provide portable drinking water for the Oworo and Gbagada communities;
LWC immediately replaces old and broken pipes in the communities with the pipeline right of way avoiding the gutters to avoid breaches.
They also recommended immediate attention paid the poor state of the environment, including building good road networks and drainage and putting in place a modern waste management system.
The CAPPA team at the meeting were Associate Directors, Aderonke Ige and Olatunji Buhari; as well as Project Officer, Veronica Nwanya.
Representatives of Campaign for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, were also in attendance.