By Kayode Ojewale
FLOODING does not just suddenly happen, it is usually preceded by some occurrences hinting its imminent arrival. When the flow of rain water on its way to the drainage channels or river is impeded, then flooding occurs. Flooding is having too much water in the wrong place.
The cause of flooding is mainly man-made because of our unclean environmental habits. With just few days of rains, some parts of Lagos are flooded. How will residents of these areas, especially flood-prone areas, fare when the peak of rainy season which usually comes with attendant flooding eventually arrives? The omens of flooding are here with us coupled with the warnings issued by appropriate authorities. Are we heeding the augurs?
What’s the end gain if the rains, designed by the Cosmic Host, meant to bless us and water our plants, turn out to damage our crops, properties and even destroy lives due to our actions and inactions? Does it appear many have forgotten the losses, pains and agony that accompanied the ravaging heavy rains which caused disasters in different parts of the country in 2012, the year of flood fury?
Of recent, it is observed that sometimes the rains no longer pre-inform or send any signal before its arrival through warnings like cloudy sky, windy atmosphere and dark clouds. Rather, it will just begin to rain suddenly without any pre-notification and it will pour heavily. That’s another indication that the rains this year would be in a different dimension.
On April 14, 2021, the Lagos State Government predicted high intensity rainfall of 261 days this year, with an attendant flooding across the state. The state, therefore, directed its residents in coastal and low-lying wetland areas to move upland in order to avert avoidable loss of lives and properties.
This was made known by the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, at a media briefing on 2021 Seasonal Climate Predictions and Socio-Economic implications for Lagos State, held at Alausa, Ikeja. In the words of Bello, “…Lagos State shall experience a rainy season of 238-261 days, while Maximum Annual Rainfall Amount is predicted to be 1747mm.
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“It is also expected that the increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicate that year 2021 will likely experience days with extremely high rainfall amounts which may result in flooding”, he further added.
In downscaling the predictions of the flood alerts, the state government is, therefore, collaborating with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMET. In addition to what the Environment and Water Resources Commissioner said, the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Drainage Services, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, declared: “I…urge residents to support government to achieve flood-free Lagos and desist from dumping refuse in drainage channels or encroaching on Right-of-Ways of canals. Regrettably, several of the canals that have been recently cleaned up are again being littered by residents.”
As a way of checkmating the looming flood, the state government plans to dredge about 221 collector drains, 32 primary channels measuring about 72 kilometres spread across all the local government areas of the state. Flood alerts and warnings are usually issued to sensitise residents and the authorities on the need to prepare. Ignoring these warnings or not heeding the flood alerts may come with deadly consequences.
In order to be prepared for the predicted floods, agencies in charge of disaster management and emergencies should be ready to ensure safety of lives during the peak of the rainy season.
A secure environment-friendly future is not built on the premises of mere luck with folding of arms; it is deliberately and conscientiously built by treating our environment well. Most roads in the hinterlands do not have gutters to allow rainwater flow when there is heavy downpour. Makeshift water channels could be dug, even if not deep, to ease water flow in such areas.
Drainage systems constructed in cities and towns should be deep and wide enough to allow the free flow of flood water.
For rural dwellers, they should desist from the unhealthy habit of dumping refuse in drainage channels. This act is also prevalent in cities as they empty their waste bins into gutters and drainage channels thinking the dirt will flow with the rainwater whereas it comes back to harm the residents.
While government plays its role in providing social amenities and infrastructures for citizens, Lagos residents must also do their best to maintain them. Let it also be added that as citizens await provision of public amenities by government, they are duty-bound to provide themselves the needed facilities in the interim.
We cannot prevent the rains from falling in its season, but we can prevent the rage of water. Nature’s fierceness occasioned by continuous furious downpour can be avoided if we take good care of our environment. In the overall interest of the safety of lives and properties, every resident must brace up and prepare for the rainy days, especially the peak period.
Ojewale is of the Public Affairs Unit of LASTMA