By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Bode Adelaja
Following Nigerian Meteorology Services, NIMET, heavy rainfall prediction and attendant flooding with possible danger to lives and property in some states including Lagos, the state government directed residents of low lying areas, especially those in river banks, to relocate to higher grounds for safety.
The state government, however, reassured that irrespective of the rainfall advisory issued by NIMET on flash flooding, adequate measures had been put in place to contain any eventuality.
The state Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, while disclosing the preparation of government disclosed that heavy rainfalls will resume in September, adding that water from Oyan Dam will also be released.
Bello said the capacity of primary and secondary drains had been enhanced through consistent cleaning and clearing to contain run offs.
“A practical demonstration of our preparedness was the over 10 hours rainfall experienced in Lagos on July 19 which resulted into flooding that submerged some houses and vehicles especially in Marina but which had disappeared the next morning, which was some eight to 10 hours after”, he said.
Bello explained that the same level of preparedness is what the state has in store for the advisory by the management of Ogun Osun River Basin Authority on release of water from Oyan Dam.
The Commissioner continued: “We are stepping up the dredging and cleaning of all our channels and would also use the opportunity to once again put the residents of low-lying areas to be alert to be ready to move when rain of unusual intensity falls.”
The identified areas put on the top alert, especially those in the river banks, are Agiliti, Ajegunle, Isheri North, Owode, Iwaya, Makoko, Badia, Ijora, Isaalu, Pota and Shibiri among others.
“All residents of the listed areas must be at alert to relocate to higher grounds to save their lives and properties when water is released by Oyan Dam authorities. For such people, they can always return to their abode when the water subsides”, he said.
“Let me give an assurance to all residents that the proactive stance of the Ministry has always been, ‘Be ready always’.
“We have always treated the nine months of March to November as peak months of rainfall in our preparations. That is why we can never be caught napping”.
Meanwhile, one major contributory factor to flooding in Lagos has been identified as the rise in sea level due to the costal nature of the state which has always posed risks to the state anytime there is high tidal movement which may lock up the discharge points of the drainage channels and until it recedes, there can be no discharge.
Such occurrences also cause backflows, resulting to flooding. But as soon as the Lagoon recedes, all the generated storm water run-off often immediately discharges thereby freeing the roads of flash flood.
While appealing to residents to report cases of drainage blockages, dumping of waste into canals and other unauthorized places, Bello implored the people to continue to complement efforts of the state government through regular clearing of drains in their frontages.
Undoubtedly, in the last few days of September, Lagos has witnessed torrential rainfall. Though, there has never been any casualty as a result of the downpour, there were signs of torrential rainfall on the way.
At Ajegunle, along Ikorodu/Mile-12 area, it was observed that flood level had increased and may begin to flow into homes except urgent measures are taken.
Sunday Vanguard observed that the impact of the water level was felt in streets like Ogabi, Balogun and, Ifelodun Streets, Ikorodu, while Unity Street, Con Road and other streets had little or no effects.
At Ogabi Street, some of the buildings were under lock and key when Sunday Vanguard visited the area.
However, the purpose for this could not be ascertained but we noticed traces of flooding around the buildings.
At some of the streets visited, residents claimed that the water level usually gets to the window level of buildings anytime Oyam Dam water is released.
A resident simply identified as Madam Alice said she usually hangs her belongings during rainy seasons while squatting with a friend around Ketu and returns later dry season.
“I have been doing this for the past eight years but my friend has relocated out of Lagos due to pressure of work”, she said.
“My survival now lies in the hands of God. Where will I temporarily move to now without any alternative?
“I’m a poor widow, I have nowhere to relocate.”
Another resident, Emiloju Thomson, expressed disappointment at the government’s advisory that residents of low-lying areas should vacate the area.
“They should have told us where to go. After all, there are so many unoccupied low-cost housing estates built by government”, Thomson said. “They should have temporarily relocated us to those places.
“I live and eke a living in Lagos but all my relatives are outside Lagos. I don’t know how I can respond to such advisory because I have nowhere to go.”
During Sunday Vanguard’s visit to Agilinti, near Mile 12, one Macaulay Abideen said he works at Yaba and spends weekend in Agilinti.
He said: “Though I dislike flooding I don’t have the resources to relocate from here.
“As a bus conductor, I sleep in buses at Yaba and come here to rest during weekends. You wouldn’t have met me today if not that I am sick.”
Another resident of Agiliti, who did not want her name in print, said: “Home is home. We vacated our house to rent an apartment elsewhere because of flooding.
“The relocation affected our sources of income such that we all took ill same time and we lost our son in the process.
“The socio-economic situation in Nigeria no longer gives room for families members to squat, so we left our three-bedroom apartment to compress ourselves in a one big room apartment.
“We had to return to our base because we were uncomfortable there.
“Government should find solution to flooding rather than asking people to relocate, every year.”
A resident of Makoko Oko-Agbon, Mr. Hundbiji Reri, said he was born in the area about six decades ago.
Reri lamented: “All our activities are on water and we like it the way it is. Our fore fathers lived here for years without problem and now it is our turn.
“The issue of water is not our headache because we have been managing this situation yearly.
“Some of us have four wives and twenty children, so, squatting is out of it.
“All our children know how to swim in case of emergency. Anyway, we will appreciate if government can relocate us so that we all will be in same environment as we will not want to be scattered so that our sources of income are not affected and our children can have access to their schools.”
Another resident of Makoko, Abiodun Ogunlade, said he relocated to the area due to affordable accommodation.
Ogunlade said: “This area is usually flooded but we will endure it. It is a joke to expect people to relocate from here when you did not provide an alternative, let alone conducive one.”
A resident of Rafiu Street, Enitan Agbo, said he formerly lived in Badagry with a relative but due to flooding challenge, he relocated to Makoko to establish a small scale business.
“We all know the situation in Nigeria now, people are looking for what to eat, how to survive and pay house rent and you are asking them to relocate”, he said.
“Have you considered the implications before asking them to relocate? Anyway, I can consider relocation if government can sponsor me”.