in Lagos, It’S Rain, Rain. Go Away…

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GBUBEMI GOD’S COVE­NANT SNR moved around the flood prone areas of Lagos and reports that Lago­sians at worst hit zones are bracing themselves for the worst.

Apprehension is building up again among residents of flood prone areas in Lagos, as the rainy season gathers storm for its 2015 reign of terror over the state.

In spite of the enormous money and labour sunk into construct­ing drainage infrastructure by the successive governments of Lagos State under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to check the juggernaut, the devasta­tion wrought by the rain continu­ally reveals that the best of the last two governments of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and out-going Babatunde Raji Fashola have not tackled the problem from its roots.

The season is one of intimi­dating problems associated with flooding all over the city and, when it happens, many homes are swamped, property worth fortunes are destroyed and, some­times, human lives are involved, as the floods sweep away every­thing in their paths, leaving resi­dents to recount tales of woes.

Added to their predicament is the storms that accompany the rains, and the devastating floods that ensue afterward. The rains in Lagos actually are not the major problems, but the floods resulting from the deluge, which normally lead to great loss of lives and prop­erty.

Lagos residents, both rich and poor, all dread a torrential rain­fall, as it becomes a nightmare for commuters and motorists to ma­noeuver through roads, as most major highways are flooded and snarled by traffic gridlock.

Many times commuters are forced to trek long distances to their offices and market places; others, who cannot face the stress, return home after waiting for hours at various motor parks and bus stops in vain for commercial vehicles that would not come.

When Daily Times visited Ma­foluku, one of the worst flood prone areas of Oshodi, it was ob­served that some residents have started a yearly routine of tak­ing their important belongings to higher grounds and sojourning with friends and relations outside the area.

“Ah, this is what we do every year; we no longer see the raining season as a period of blessing,” borehole engineer, Fidelis Nwig­we, said. He was a tenant in this area, until he built his own house eleven years ago in the same zone. “As it is, the damage to our homes and our personal losses increase every year; sometimes it becomes far worse than what we expected,” Nwigwe added.

A source at the Ministry of the Environment & Physical Plan­ning, who preferred anonymity, revealed that flooding in Lagos will take many decades of serious work and funding to overcome. He revealed that the worst areas during and after a rains include Mainland areas like Ogba, Ike­ja, Orile-Agege, Alagbado, AIT Road, Iyana-Ipaja, Ipaja, Ayobo, Moshalashi, Kollington, Oke-Odo and Ahmadiyya. A portion of the road between Ahmadiyya and Ijaiye on the Lagos-Abeokuta Ex­pressway has collapsed, leaving commuters stranded.

Daily Times investigation also revealed that other areas like Aro­wojobe and Akinwunmi estates, the Maryland parts of Ikeja GRA, Dolphin and Park View estates, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Victoria Garden City (VGC), Ibeju-Lekki, Murtala Muhammed Interna­tional Airport Road, Apapa-Os­hodi Expressway, Yaba, Surulere, Gbagada, Oworonshoki, Mafolu­ku-Oshodi, Iyana-Ejigbo, Isheri-Osun, Berger-Alagbole Road, Aje­gunle, Ikorodu Road, Ogijo and Odogunyan, are all on the flood risk list.

Parts of Ogun State, being ar­eas that share boundaries with Lagos, that were submerged in­cluded Akute, Alagbole, Olambe and Ojodu-Abiodun, among oth­ers, are also not spared.

Our source at Alausa pointed to the dumping of waste materials in drainages as the foremost issue to be addressed in combating the floods. It said further, “If you take a look at the flood whenever it rains, what you find is thousands of water sachets, rags, shoes, sta­tioneries and all sorts of domestic wastes, which usually block the drains, pushing the water to road surfaces, which eventually lead to pot-holes and craters. Then you ask yourself ‘how did these items find their ways into the drain­ages?”

But on the contrary, an expert on Coast and Small Island (CSI) matters, Mr. Zenob Emmanuel, insisted that government is to blame for the recurrent flood di­sasters that happen in Lagos State annually.

“The ‘City of Excellence’ re­mains fragile and vulnerable to the rains, and endangers lives and properties year-in and year-out because the government has not approached the flooding problem with any sense of professionalism

“Whenever it rains, many areas in Lagos and some parts of Ogun State experience torrential rain­fall that leaves untold hardship on the people due to bad city plan­ning, compounded by bad roads that leave the affected areas sub­merged in flood,” he lamented.

Government has itself to blame

“Lagos apparently has itself to blame for this state of affairs. Much of the state lies below sea level and, despite this, it has em­barked on unprecedented land reclamation. One result is the enormous environmental dam­age, as the indiscriminate drain­ing has tilted the balance in the ecosystem.

“As a proactive and responsive administration that is committed to the overall well-being of the residents, this alert becomes nec­essary to sensitise all the people, especially those that reside in the flood-prone areas, to be on the alert in order to prevent the loss of lives and property,” he advised.

It would be recalled that a study on Flood Management and Governance Structure in Lagos on ‘Lookman Oshodi’ recorded that flood is a natural threat that makes no distinction in the status of any society in the world. Its oc­currence in different parts of the world has shown that it is a global phenomenon that does not ostra­cise any community.

The common characteristics of all these disasters are massive devastation to the physical and emotional fabrics of the respec­tive environment.

In many jurisdictions, flood threats cannot be totally avoided, but minimizing its destructive impacts on lives and the environ­ment becomes a strong priority for many governments.

Issues to be addressed

There is lack of standard or regulatory framework to man­age the development and delivery of tertiary and many secondary drainage facilities at the commu­nity level.

In many communities in Lagos, especially on the Mainland, con­struction and management of ter­tiary drains are at the discretion of individual plot owners.

The decision to construct and manage depends on how compel­ling and affordable is the drain­age channel to the respective plot owners. Equally, construction and management of secondary drains are through contributions from the community members.

The contributions are often meager and erratic, leading to poor quality drains and mostly, abandonment. At individual and community levels, the construc­ tion and management of the drains are executed without any development guide, approved lay­out plan, regulations or any pre­scribed operational standard.

In the schedule of responsibili­ties for the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, construction and maintenance of secondary channels are integral parts of the ministry’s duties.

The provision of drainage in­frastructure is not at commensu­rate level with the rate of urban­ization and population growth in the state.

Massive and incessant land rec­lamation and dredging projects across the water bodies in the state are with little or no regards for environmental impacts of such projects.

 

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