12th July, 2011
Most residents of Lagos who had one reason or the other to come out last Sunday would have by the end of that day lamented their decision to do so owing to the harrowing experience they encountered before returning to their homes.
The situation was such that people spent as much as 12 hours on the road due to the massive floods which ravaged most parts of the state. From Lekki, Ajah, Surulere, Ipaja-Ayobo, Oko-Oba, Agege, Bariga, Somolu, Ojota, Ojodu, Ogba, Yaba, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Isolo, Oshodi, Apapa and Ikorodu, the flood defied whatever measures that had been put in place by the state government and submerged many houses and vehicles.
Some residents were swept away while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed by the flood caused by the torrential rain which started early in the morning and stopped late in the evening.
There were reports of residents abandoning their submerged houses for safer places and families seeking refuge on the roof of their houses to avoid being swept away.
At least 10 corpses were recovered from canals in Alimosho Local Government Area alone after the floods subsided. A particular pathetic story is that of five girls who died from generator fumes in a restaurant on Allen Avenue, Ikeja after being forced to abandon their flooded room. It was a pathetic sight at the premises of the Area â€˜Fâ€™ Police Station, Ikeja yesterday when the corpses of the deceased were brought to the station in a commuter bus.
Apart from this, other deaths were reported from other parts of the state.
Sundayâ€™s flood was not unprecedented. It had happened before and in fact, it is becoming a yearly occurrence.
We are surprised that despite the early warning early this year by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) that Nigerians should brace up for heavy rainfall which might result in heavy floods this year, most residents of Lagos, and indeed other parts of the country, were still caught napping.
It is also baffling that all the measures put in place by the Lagos State government to deflood the environment when rain falls failed on Sunday. The huge floods which rendered most parts of the state prostate for hours and caused confusion and chaos throughout the day has further exposed the weakness of the strategy adopted to reduce flooding in the state.
It is sad to note that 24 hours after the rain stopped, some parts of the state were still flooded. This is contrary to what we were made to believe by the Ministry of the Environment that the flooding in Lagos is â€˜flash floodâ€™ and that thirty minutes after the rain stops, the water would have disappeared into the drainage all over the state. Sundayâ€™s heavy rain put a lie to this.
Secondly, it is also a thing of worry that state officials like policemen and LASTMA officials charged with traffic control went to sleep on Sunday. There was no traffic official anywhere at major junctions throughout the state. The situation was worse at Oko Oba, Abule Egba and other places where there was no one to control the traffic bedlam caused by the flood.
This is why we think the new Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, has a lot to do. Thank God, he is not a novice in the ministry.
He should hit the ground running and ensure that all the blocked drainage are cleared. This is the time for us to fully assess the desirability or otherwise of officials of the flood abatement gang in the ministry. Members of the gang in all the local governments should commence the immediate clearing of the blocked drainage and canals to allow for a free flow of water.
There is also the need for the commissioner to embark on on-the-spot assessment of drainage to ascertain their capability to withstand the heavy rains that are still coming. The commissioner needs to be pro-active in this regard. Illegal structures built on drainage channels must be demolished.
The directive to stay at home whenever there is heavy rain cannot work because people have to seek their means of livelihood. It is for those charged with managing their affairs to be pro-active and respond to their yearnings by making life easy for them. And that includes containing the ravaging flood.