Lagos Abeokuta Express road, by Ikeja- Along Bus Stop, heavily flooded following persistent rainfall in Lagos, 18th June, 2020. PHOTO: Olasunkanmi Akoni

By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja, Esther Onyegbula & Efe Onodjae 

It was a black weekend in Lagos State following torrential rainfall that wreaked havoc on residents and property with attendant loss of lives across the metropolis.

Panic gripped residents and motorists as heaven continued to open up its content on Lagos in the past few days leaving the state heavily flooded and sweeping away some residents to death.

Recall, earlier in March, 2022, Lagos State Government predicted a high intensity annual rainfall amount of 1,750mm with attendant socio-economic implications for residents.

However, the state government, urged residents not to panic at the presence of heavy rainfall as every arrangement had been put in place to ensure adequate protection of lives and property with expected flash flooding across the state.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMET, at the beginning of every year, usually forecast the expected rainfall and temperature patterns, spanning the entire country, with high intensity rainfall predicted in Lagos and others states.

Commissoner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, as well as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage and Water Resources, Joe Igbokwe, announced this while making the 2022 Seasonal Climate Predictions in Lagos.

According to Bello, Ikeja is expected to have a rainfall onset date of March 17 while cessation date is December 3 with a total amount of 1392mm as specifically highlighted by NiMet.

He added, “The predicted onset, cessation and rainfall amount of 2022 is similar to the prediction for 2021 and the implication is that we are anticipating to experience a rain pattern of high intensity and frequency similar to that of 2021.

“Lagos Island is expected to have a rainfall onset date as April 6, cessation date as November 30 and a total rainfall amount of 1627mm.

“However, the Seasonal Climate Prediction for Lagos State generally signifies that the onset dates range between March 17 in earliest and April 6, 2022 at the latest, while the cessation dates range between November 30 and December 5, 2022, while the Maximum Annual Rainfall amount is predicted to be 1,750mm.”

The commissoner, said it was expected that the recent increasing frequency of extreme weather events would continue in 2022 with days of extremely high rainfall amounts which might result in flooding.

“We call for caution as strong winds are expected during the onset and cessation of every rainfall just as envisaged harmattan are predicted which may cause reduction in visibility and bring about flight disruption and loss of revenue due to delays and cancellations in the aviation sector, “ Bello added.

Flood control

The commissoner, while commenting on expected flooding, said, assured that the state would continue to reap the gains of careful and rigorous planning and execution, as flood control measures were being stepped up to contain any imminent heavy rainfalls.

Towards ensuring a flood-free and hygienic environment in the state, Bello said the ministry had embarked on an all-year-round drainage maintenance for effective and efficient flood control, in addition to an efficient and sustainable solid waste management system.

“In the same vein, we are determined to maintain the long-established synergy and partnership with Ogun-Oshun River Basin Authority (OORBDA) which has ensured control and monitoring of the steady and systemic release of water from Oyan Dam to prevent flooding of the downstream reaches of Ogun River. This mutual relationship has been highly beneficial in the past and we intend to sustain it.

“All emergency agencies, responders and Traffic Management outfits are also on standby to assist in reducing the negative impact of thunderstorm associated with rainfall in the state,” he added.

Bello therefore, appealed to residents, particularly the media and photo journalists, to help educate the public that “sometimes when it rains heavily, it is natural to have flashfloods which will percolate or drain off quickly, as is the case in different parts of the world.

“It is only when flood remains on the roads several hours after the cessation of the rains that one can report that flooding has occurred. I therefore wish to plead with the media to be more circumspect in the manner they report issue of flash flooding with banner headliners that could create panic.”

He noted that another contributory factor to flooding is Lagoon level rise. “Anytime there is high tidal movement, it may lock up the discharge points of drainage channels and until it recedes, there will be no discharge.

“Such occurrences also cause backflows, resulting to flooding. But as soon as the lagoon recedes, all the generated storm water will immediately discharge and our roads will be free.”

Flood rage

Tragedy struck last Friday at Yaya   Hassan Street, Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, when a commercial driver, simply identified as Ugo, 48,   Alias, “Gunners” was washed away by the heavy flood during the persistent rainfall in Lagos.

According to eyewitnesses, the unfortunate incident occurred at about 4p.m, during the heavy downpour.

The incident threw the entire community into panic as residents and motorists wailed openly, running helter skelter in fruitless search to recover the victim.

As of press time, 7.30 p.m, family members of the victim, who hails from Abakaliki, were still making frantic efforts in search of their loved one with the hope of finding him alive.

The victim, a commercial bus driver with registration number, MUS 760 XS, popularly called “Danfo” was looking for a big stone around to use as a wedge on the tyre of his bus which broke down in the heavy rainfall when in the process of fetching one, he mistakenly fell into the wide drainage with high water current.

When Vanguard visited the scene the   commercial bus with yellow and black stripes, was still at the scene as sympathisers and rescue team went in search of the victim.

The conductor of the bus, simply identified as Favour, left the scene and raced to the residence of the victim to inform the family of the tragedy.

An eyewitness, who simply identified herself as Mama Iyabo, narrated how the incident happened.

According to her, “I can’t still believe my eyes. It was just like a Nollywood movie. I was in my shop, as a petty trader, I saw from afar a commercial bus driver while in the process of negotiating a bend into the street got stuck in a ditch but after much struggle, it got the bus out.

“However, the bus wouldn’t start again, apparently due to the impact of falling into the ditch, coupled with the heavy rainfall.

“In the process of fixing the bus, the driver went in search of something, which I later found out was stone in order to hold the bus stationary.

“There is a stone there (pointing to the stone) he was actually trying to jump over the drainage to get the stone when he mistakenly lost his balance and fell instantly into the high moving current of the flood water in the drainage.

“All I could see next was the man’s head slightly above the flood water struggling, crying for help. There was a youngman who tried to no avail to get the drowning man out as he was being swept away.

“Immediately, all the passengers hurried out of the bus and dispersed into thin air while others watched as rescuers went in search of the victim.

“Uptill now(6.30pm), the victim has not been found dead or alive.”

However, residents who spoke to Vanguard blamed the state and local governments for not yielding to the earlier danger alerts forwarded to relevant authorities in leaving the wide drainage open without covering it to prevent people falling in.

“We are appealing for the umpteenth time to governments to come to our rescue now before our children, husbands and wives will end up falling into the drainage to death,” Mama Iyabo pleaded.

15-year-old pupil dies in Lagos canal

The ugly Canal located in Idi-Oro of Alhaji Lasisi bus stop Mushin has in the past two months claimed the lives of some passers-by, in the likes of Abosede 25-year-old, and Tijani 50-year-old as a result of their ignorance of the nature of the canal.

Also on Friday, a 15-year-old student, Erinle Mouturayo Mary was also found dead in the same canal at Idi-Oro Mushin Lagos State.

Mary who was a student of Ajigbeda Girls High School Surulere was on her way back from school on a Friday afternoon after a downpour and mistakenly flopped into the bad Canal.

All effort to rescue her failed as she was found dead by some road mechanic, 12 kilometers from the Idi-Oro bus stop where she drowned.

Speaking with Vanguard, Oluwasesan Bamuya, an Okada rider who was an eyewitness during the ugly incident, narrated, “this is not the first time this kind of Ugly incident is occurring in this bus stop as a result of this unkept canal by the state government as it has happened two months ago and claimed the lives of a family man and a young lady.

“ Though I heard they are more than two, but, what I witnessed last month was two, he said.

“I overheard the traders shouting to the little girl to turn back when I was dropping a passenger at the Idi-Oro unknowingly to me that she was already inside the Canal and when I got there to rescue her, I saw her bag and I picked it, unfortunately, she has gone deep in the canal and was swept away by the pressure of the water in the canal.

Also, a middle-aged man was swept by flood on Saturday, while in search of his missing cows around Oko-Oba in Agege area of Lagos.

The incident reportedly occurred in the morning.

His colleagues were said to have alerted residents of the area after their fruitless search at about  4.pm.

An eyewitness of Oko-Oba, Ayomide Arinola   told Vanguard about the development.

According to her, residents noticed some colleagues of the victim who came to Oko-Oba from Abattoir, while they (residents) were busy searching for two occupants of a vehicle who were swept by flood at Oyatoki Street, Oko-Oba.

She said, “upon arrival at about 4pm, they joined in the search, only to inform us that their colleague, a male, was swept away while searching for some missing cows from the abattoir.

“They informed that some of their cows were swept by flood in the morning, and the man volunteered to search for them unfortunately, he was also swept away.

“They begged residents to notify them incase his body was found.”

Similarly, a Lexus Jeep and another vehicle with three occupants each on board were swept away on Saturday, in Oko-Oba.

However, two of the occupants were rescued through community efforts, one swam out of the flood while another jumped to a safer place remaining two occupants who were missing at press time but we’re later found alive.

The vehicle drivers were said to have been defiant to warnings by residents to avoid passing the area.

This is just as 14 passengers of an ill-fated boat were missing after their boat capsized on Friday night, in Ojo area of Lagos.

16 passengers including children, were said to be on board when the boat capsized at Mile 2 but two bodies were recovered immediately, while 11 others were later recovered dead.

Trapped aged woman rescued

Men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, on Sunday, rescued an elderly woman who was trapped in a building, at Oluwaga in Ipaja, Lagos, following the weekend downpour in the area.

Time was at about 11am.

According to LASEMA Permanent Secretary,   Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, the agency responded to a distress call concerning the incident after which it deployed men to rescue the woman who was the sole occupant of the building.   

Upon medical examination, it was learnt that the woman suffered from stroke and was unable to run for safety before being trapped.

Having completed the rescue operation, the victim was handed over to a Pre hospital care unit   of the agency which administered First Aid treatment on the victim before being transported to the hospital for further treatment.

Giving an updates to Vanguard, the Permanent Secretary, said, “Following the heavy downpour of Saturday 9th July, 2022, it was discovered that flooding had ravaged the aforementioned area.

“Investigations conducted by the Agency’s response team revealed a female (an elderly sole occupant ), had been trapped in the building.

“A search and rescue operation by the Agency’s response team, confirmed the victim to be alive although suffering from a stroke.

Efforts are ongoing to extricate her from the building.

“The Pre hospital care unit   of the agency is administering first aid to the victim before she is transported to hospital,” he said.

More heavy rains underway till August-LASG issues fresh alert

Consequently, the state government expressed sympathy with residents of the state over heavy flash flooding experienced in several parts of the state on Saturday, including Oko Oba in Agege, urging everyone to remain vigilant and cautious as there will be more heavy rains till end of August, 2022.

Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Bello, gave the alert while reacting to the incident of flash flooding as a result of persistent rainfall with attendant havoc on residents and property across the metropolis.

He explained that the flash flooding on old Oko Oba Road followed the ceaseless rainfall of over 10 hours that led to the overflowing of the Oko Oba Canal Channel which is presently undergoing expansion.

Bello, while appealing to residents to be very cautious stressing that “Lagos will experience more heavy rains till end of August and all residents and motorists   should avoid wading through floods while it is raining to avert possible disaster.”

He therefore, urged all those in depressed and lowlying areas in the state presently, to be wary of water level and be ready to move to high areas during the rainfall to safeguard lives and properties.

The commissioner, also urged the people to compliment the efforts of the Emergency Flood Abatement Gang of the state that are busy freeing up all clogged black spots all the time by not dumping refuse into drains and canals.

Bello, said that the Oko-Oba Canal in Agege is being expanded to allow for the containment of more storm water that would reduce flooding in the area.

He said the state government had always adviced motorists and residents to be cautious and refrain from wading through flood waters during heavy rainfalls largely because of the inherent dangers.

Bello added that the contractor handling the expansion project had been slowed down by the intensity of the rains in the past weeks “but is committed to a completion of the project.”

He reiterated that because of the coastal nature of the state, it is bound to experience flooding when there is heavy rainfall, especially about a rainfall that started on Friday with high intensity and has not abated till over 36 hours after.

The commissoner added that all the water bodies into which the channels including the Oko Oba channel will deliver have risen and will only recede hours after the rainfall ceases.

LASEMA releases mobile emergency lines, task community leaders on drainage

Earlier, Oke- Osanyintolu, has appealed to community leaders to spend the ongoing public holidays to carry out some remedial clearing of blocked drainages in their respective locations.

LASEMA Permanent Secretary, Dr Olufemi Oke- Osanyintolu, made the appeal, in a statement, on Sunday, following the Saturday downpour and it’s resultant effects on residents.

The Permanent Secretary seized the ocassion to release a mobile emergency lines to compliments the existing ones.

The statement reads, “The Agency has been responding to distress calls throughout Lagos with reports on flooding and flood damage in affected areas.

“We wish to reassure the good people of Lagos that we are on standby via our emergency lines 112/767 to respond.

“We are also urging Lagosians to avoid non essential travel in areas that are most affected by flooding. Parents and guardians are to keep their children and wards warm and dry to avoid secondary illnesses.

“This is an appeal to community leaders to use the public holidays to carry out some remedial clearing of blocked drainage.

“This will allow for free flow of storm water and reduce the impact.

“On behalf of the agency and other first responders, we assure Lagosians that the administration of Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu is poised to assist all those dealing with flood damage. We can be reached on emergency lines and also directly on 0806 090 7333”

LASG step up zero tolerance for potholes

Meanwhile, the state government is set to enhance its “zero tolerance for potholes” campaign to reverse road failures that resurfaced as a result of the erosion of asphalt on some roads at the start of the rainy season.

The Special Adviser to the state Governor, on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, disclosed this during a media chat, stating that the Public Works Corporation would fix inner roads and critical road networks already identified across Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas in Lagos.

According to Adeyoye: “Through the campaign, inner streets and critical road networks have been identified and will be fixed in order to make every part of Lagos motorable and liveable for the people.”

She explained that some major roads like Ijede and Oba Sekumade in Ikorodu were being rebuilt to prevent integrity issues on the infrastructure, which deteriorated in the past because fundamental issues were not addressed.

Adeyeye maintained that the roads will be built in a sustainable manner to confront and resolve the problems identified with previous construction work along the axis.

Her words: “Over the years, whether because of the sideways capacity of the drainages, we did not do what we needed to do. Now, we have a deck-on-pile at Oba Sekumade, a lined canal to serve as drainage. We will do some form of urban regeneration and address areas that are already in a deplorable manner.

“I can tell you that roads are being fixed to ease connectivity, which shows that the government is working to improve the intra-modal transport system”.

On the Lekki-Epe expressway, Adeyoye stated that the corridor has witnessed massive development in the last 10 years, explaining that the glitches experienced on the axis was due to failure of the pavement because there were no drainages.

“As a government, we envisaged that with the development along that corridor, which is the fastest-growing corridor and a developing economic nerve centre of Lagos housing Dangote refinery, many companies and industries, it is imperative to make the reconstruction and upgrading of Lekki-Epe Expressway a priority to ease movement and stop the issue of bad road and flooding in the area,” she stated.

Adeyoye, said desilting and drainage services have been stepped up to make commuting easier and address issues causing flooding that has plagued residents since the rains started.

“Lagos is always considering the citizenry and will stop at nothing to put the people first by making sure every area has access to good and well-drained roads, she assured.

While confirming that some roads like Isuti and Captain Davies roads in Alimosho are ready for commissioning to improve the commuting experience of residents, Adeyeye, said the Akesan-Badore Road is also under construction.

Jandor sympathizes with victims, sets up disaster recovery team across 20 LGAs

Meanwhile, the Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Dr. Olajide Adediran, popularly called Jandor, has   commiserated with families displaced by weekend flood even as he expressed displeasure over the challenging experience of residents any time it rains.

Reacting to the latest flooding, Jandor reached out to some of the victims affected, earlier in the week. The with torrential rain on Saturday, however, lasted for about seven hours sweeping away some residents with their vehicles.

According to him, “I have received with worries, messages of families being displaced as a result of today’s downpour. It is disheartening to see the good people of the state suffer such neglect and huge discomfort. This disaster is preventable and avoidable at least to the barest minimum.”

In his usual prompt approach to situation, Jandor set up actions to mitigate the effect of the flood across the 20 Local Government areas of the state.

“In the interim, I have set up a Disaster Recovery Team across the state from our network of members to offer immediate assistance to the victims” he said.

He prayed that there would be no more loss of lives even as the rain still continued in some part of the state.

“We will continue to patch up until we install a government we can jointly call our own and birth a breath of fresh air in Lagos,” he said.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.