11th October, 2010
Thousands of residents of over 10 communities in Ikosi-Isheri Local Council DevelopmentÂ Area, LCDA of Lagos State, South West Nigeria are still licking their wounds as they areÂ now battling with a massive flood.Â Houses were overrun by the murky water and propertiesÂ worth millions of naira were destroyed.
Yet the flood has not abated, the water is still being expected in the coming days,Â though people are not ready to evacuate the area pending when the flood abates.Â ThereÂ are fears that a cholera epidemic or water-borne disease might break-out if adequateÂ sanitary measures are not put in place.
The affected areas are Ikosi-Ketu, Mile 12, Ajilete, Thomas Laniyan Estate, Owode Elede,Â Owode Onirin, Agboyi, Odo-Ogun and Maidan. The communities were sacked by flood lastÂ Tuesday as houses were submerged.
The release of water from the Oyan Dam by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development AuthorityÂ into the Ogun River led to the flooding. The River thus overflowed, sacking the affectedÂ communities along its bank.
The Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority had in a letter Ref. No.Â O-ORBDA/S/08D/Vol.3/442 to the Lagos State Government, signed by the Deputy Director,Â Operations and Maintenance, Engr. Akin Soyemi, in August soliciting the assistance of theÂ Lagos State Government in creating awareness and sensitising members of the public inÂ Lagos State, especially those living along the banks of the Ogun River, that as a resultÂ of increase in the rainfall in recent weeks, the reservoir level at Oyan Dam has beenÂ increasing steadily.
According to Soyemi, â€œconsequent upon this development and in conforming to theÂ operational rule of the dam, it has become imperative to release water gradually in orderÂ to maintain tolerable capacity level for the safety of the dam, and by extension, safetyÂ of lives and property downstream.â€
The letter added that: “Weather forecast indicates that the downpour may persist forÂ sometime more, thus the release of water may be sustained for as long as necessary.â€
As water from Oyan Dam was released last week, residents along the banks of the riverÂ were flooded-in, so to say. The Lagos-Ikorodu Highway was also flooded in some areasÂ while motorists had a harrowing experience, with the attendant traffic gridlock.
Schools, companies, markets and other establishments in the areas were flooded. ResidentsÂ now use canoes to move around in and out of the area even as school children are beingÂ ferried to and from school. They called on the state government to come to their aid.
There was palpable fear that some people may have been swept off by the rampaging floodÂ which is expected to continue until the rains reduce.
â€œWe have commenced the release of water since August and that has continued till now andÂ will continue as long as heavy rainfall continues,â€ said Mr. Femi Dokunmu, spokespersonÂ of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority.
Children of the Nigerian-Turkish International College in the area had to be evacuated asÂ the flood overran the school, sending down panic the spines of parents.
â€œI have never seen such a thing as this in my life before. The water that was releasedÂ from the dam is so much that all of Isheri and environs have been taken over by water,â€Â said a driver, Mr. Wale Idowu.
According to Mrs. Ranti Koiki, the opening of the dam was simply rubbish, saying that sheÂ would have to withdraw her children from the Nigeria-Turkish International School at theÂ end of the current term to avoid putting their lives at risk.
â€œMy office is at Ikeja and I cannot go to work because of the flood,â€ said a banker, Mr.Â Maureen Lawrence.
Mr. Yakub Ali lamented that the release of water from the dam had been on for a very longÂ time, adding that nothing concrete had been done since. â€œGovernment has continued to putÂ the lives of citizens in danger,â€ he fumed.
However, the Lagos State Government said it had put machinery in motion to preventÂ disaster in the area, adding that its emergency agencies had been put on red alert in theÂ area.
To ensure that no life was lost, the state government has deployed officials of the LagosÂ State Ambulance Services, LASAMBUS, and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency,Â LASEMA, to the area on a 24-hour surveillance in order to nip any disaster in the bud.
General Manger, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu told P.M.METRO that Lagos was on top ofÂ the situation and that it was prepared to nip in the bud any unforeseen disaster, addingÂ that the communities had refused to move, saying they could cope with the currentÂ problem.
â€œWe have gone there to create awareness of epidemics that may break out as a result ofÂ the presence of water in the area. Our people are not displaced but we are watchingÂ critically. My men are visiting the scene and have taken measures to ensure that thatÂ there is safety if the water level gets higher. If the people are displaced, we have aÂ relief camp to take them to. The camp can accommodate between 500 to 1,000 people,â€ heÂ said.