Pains, Pains Of Floods; Victims Recount Ordeal


Floods have recently rendered homeless hundreds of thousands residents of some towns  and villages in Ogun and Lagos States. MOYO FABIYI visited some of the affected  areas and here writes on their sufferings…

Since penultimate Sunday when Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority  discharged excess water threatening its Oyan dam located off Abeokuta-Sokoto  Expressway, things have fallen apart and life no longer at ease for thousands of  residents of villages such as Wawa, Arepo, Magboro in Ogun State and  Ajegunle-Ikorodu, Ikosi in Lagos states have been subjected to all manners of  suffering by the ravaging floods.

To a curious traveller on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Arepo town, landlords of two  journalists’ estate is a hilly or at least a flood-free environment. However, a  five-minute drive inside Arepo revealed the contrary. Although many areas of the  town are free from the two-week old floods, a number of estates, especially those  close to the wet valley or river bank in the town have been hit by the devastating  water.

But the hilly areas, like the Journalists’ Estate Phase I, was flood-free. A  resident, Fabian Anawo confirmed what P.M.NEWS suspected during the visit to Arepo.  A staff of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi, Lagos,  Anawo said: “There is no problem of flood in journalists’ estate phase I as you can  see. But phase II, any time it rains, the place may be flooded, even before the  discharge of water from Oyan Dam.

At Journalists’ Estate Phase I, some houses have been taken over by the floods and  the residents have fled. None of the security guards at the entrance of the estate  was available.

Worst hit by the floods is Starcomms Estate, Arepo. So devastating was the flooding  that a canoe was tied up inside the compound of a house behind Balogun Street,  Arepo. The Akogun of Arepo, Chief Lateef Ashadu, told P.M.NEWS that there had been  perennial floods during the peak of rainy season but it had never been as bad as  they have witnessed in the last two weeks.

A victim, Mrs. Veronica Ibeabuchi a.k.a. Iya Anama narrated her family’s nauseating  experience thus; “It was about 2 a.m, suddenly, water took over our house. All our  television sets, other electronics including generating sets were destroyed. I have  since occupied a shop. My husband and children have been squatting in other places.

Another family nearby lost properties worth millions of naira to the floods.  According to a woman who pleaded anonymity, the floods have submerged all their  household items including a new 30 KVA generator worth N2.5 million, three other  generators, six television sets and a home theatre.

She said, “since the floods came, I have moved our dogs to a veterinary doctor where  we have been paying N45,000 per day on each of our five dogs. We presently reside in  a friend’s house. Everyday my children ask me questions: ‘mummy, when are we going  to our house?’ Two of our cars could not be retrieved from the compound. Since three  years ago when we moved to our house here, we have never witnessed this type of  floods.”

Narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Victoria Odin said the water caught her family of eight  unawares. She said two of their cars including a Nissa Pathfinder have been  submerged. The Delta State born Mrs. Odin said the family moved into their property  only six weeks ago.

“In fact, we were contemplating selling off the house. But we are being persuaded  not to do so, as the water would soon recede,” said Mrs. Odin.

Residents who have moved out of the Victoria Estate and Starcomms Estate according  to the victims included one of the wives of the late business magnate and winner of  the 12 June, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola. “I don’t know her name  or which one of them, but one of Abiola’s wives just moved out of this place,” said  our source.

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Meanwhile, Ogun State government has arraigned for an alternative accommodation for  the victims. Forms have been sent to Olu of Arepo, Oba Solomon Atanda Oyebi who has  directed his Akogun, Chief Shaolu, to coordinate the project.

A similar visit to Magboro, also on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway showed that only a  few areas of the town were affected. The Magboro inside or Magboro II, especially  the swampy portions were badly affected. But the area is not densely populated. Some  of the affected buildings have not been completed, while the few that are completed  were not yet occupied, hence, only a few people were displaced in the area.

Similarly, the whole of Eyinosa area in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State has  almost succumbed to floods. Towns and villages badly affected include Okolondo,  Ibode, Popoku, Onigbongbo, Origele, Erewe and Itogbesa.

Pupils have not been able to attend schools because many parents have relocated to  safer environs. Economic activities have been paralysed since the major occupation  of the people, fishing, has been put on hold.

A resident of Okolondo who claimed to be about 60 years old, Salawatu Yekini said  she has never witnessed such a ravaging flood in her life. Baale of the town, Chief  Ramoni Adams bemoaned the fate of the residents, some of whom had relocated. The  75-year-old, however, said old people like him found it difficult to desert their  ancestral home. “Where do I run to? This is the home of my great grandfathers.  We  may find a safe place for the children. But we have no other community we can call  our own but this flooded town,” the baale said.

The Ajegunle community in Mile-12-Ikorodu road also in Lagos State was also affected  by the flood. The state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, during a visit to the  affected areas assured the people of an alternative accommodation as a palliative  measure.

Fashola regretted that help was coming late to the victims of the Ajegunle floods  which he called a national disaster that the National Emergency Management Agency,  NEMA should address. He said NEMA should rescue the residents before floods sweep  them away.

He noted that the place was not habitable but people stayed there to eke a living.  This, he said, they must not do at the expense of their welfare.

But many of the residents were of the view that if the government could provide  drainage channels in the area, their flooding problems will be ameliorated. While a  few of them were willing to move out, majority of the others were pleased to travel  around the community in canoes.

—Additional reports by Paul Sanusi

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