July 11, 2024

Saving Lagos from floods

Saving Lagos from floods

The recent devastating flooding of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, UAE’s, show-piece international city, was just another reminder that almost any human settlement, no matter how highly developed, can be flooded.

Also, in 2021, Europe suffered one of its most memorable flooding in modern times. It claimed the lives of over 120 people, with Germany and Belgium the worst affected. In the case of Dubai and Europe, fierce winds and prolonged rains overwhelmed riverbeds and brought flood waters to well-planned cities. But flooding is usually the exception and not the rule in terms of annual occurrence.

Lagos, on the other hand, is easily overcome by a few hours of moderate rains. The heavy rains of penultimate Wednesday practically drowned many parts of the city-state. The most shocking were the cases of posh districts of Lekki, Marina, parts of Surulere, Isolo, Magodo and others. The rains submerged and possibly totalled thousands of vehicles and swamped homes, offices and shops. The Lagoon simply extended inland Lekki Phases I and II.

The reasons for this level of shock flooding are not far-fetched: both the government and residents of the state are not doing enough to prevent routine rains from morphing into disasters. The old habit of blocking the drains with refuse instead of properly disposing them in bins for evacuation remains. People still build structures on drainages. The consequence of this careless blockage of water’s right of way is predictable, yet people continue in the habit.

Unfortunately, like in other parts of the country, organs of the Lagos State Government saddled with the mandate to enforce relevant laws are not up to the task. In Nigeria, government is typically lazy, incompetent and lacking in the ethics of public service because government personnel are more interested in money than doing the job.

Some rogue government officials are complicit in condoning the fouling of town planning laws and building regulations only to huff and puff to demolish such structures when disaster strikes.

The ease with which an uptown district like Lekki is overcome by floods after heavy rains puts to question the quality of planning that went into its development. Countries like the Netherlands show that it is actually possible to build cities below sea level with minimal flooding. We can borrow a leaf from them.

The Lagos State Government should construct embankments along flood-prone sections of Lekki and routinely dredge the waterways year-round to minimise flooding. Existing canals should be desilted or deepened to ease the flow of storm water.

Lagos State was able to permanently solve the problem of Bar Beach ocean surges and flooding. It even went ahead, through partnership with private investors, to develop the Eko Atlantic City, a burgeoning prime real estate and tourist centre.

The Island districts can also be similarly saved.