Floods: Day Lagosians Learnt Their Lesson

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Residents of Lagos State would continue for a long time to count their losses as a result of the flood that ravaged the entire state killing people and destroying properties a few days ago.

However, while many of them have continued to wonder how all they had gathered over the years were destroyed within the 17 hours that the rain lasted on Sunday 10 July, 2011, they have also realised that they were victims of their own handiwork. They agreed that they had learnt their lessons concerning the uncultured manner they dispose wastes.

A visit by P.M.NEWS to some communities in the state showed the level of destruction that followed the flood, which the government is still trying to manage.

The traditional ruler of Iju-Ogundimu in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area of the state, Oba Elijah Olanire, told P.M.NEWS that some of the people that were affected “are scapegoats. Some of them built houses on the canal within the community, even after they were warned.

“Now in my community, many of those who built their houses on the canal and the surrounding areas have moved out because they witnessed the uninteresting effect of the flood. The flood affected three streets in this community.”

The canal, which stretches through Ogundimu Street, where Palace is located, was an eyesore. A white garment church was located atop the canal while the remaining stretch provided cart pushers an easy location for dumping refuse.

He attributed the effect of the downpour on the community to the blocked canal. He also explained that the drainage system, which empties water into the Iju River from Agege and other neighbouring communities, was narrowed within the community. So as the flood overflowed the drainage channel, it immediately destroyed properties it came in contact with. Two children were drowned while another was said to have been saved by an elder who jumped into the flood and rescued the little boy.

“Till now, the primary school located in our community is a no-go area because it was flooded. The flood swept away one child while the second child was rescued while being swept away. Because of the flooding, we have been cut off from Ajuwon, our neighbouring community. The only road linking us with the community has broken down,” he lamented adding that several calls to the Chairman of Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Chairman, Demola Doherty, to come to the aid of the community before the flood went unanswered.

He expressed joy that the government was prepared to begin the demolition of defective buildings and those built on canals and other areas which inhibits the easy flow of water.

He also advised the government to continue to enlighten the people on the effect of throwing waste into the canal, even as traditional rulers have been trying to do same in their various areas of jurisdiction. The government, he said, must do whatever it can to ensure that the people of the state become disciplined even if it requires strict enforcement of the law.

“Government spends money building these gutters and drainages, but we are supposed to know how to take care of our waste and not throw them into the drainage channels or canal,” he stressed while pleading with the government to assist in expanding the drainage channel.

The Olu of Iju-Ishaga, Abbas Amole Ajibode, speaking in Yoruba, explained that though the effect of the rain was not too much on the people of his community, there was serious need to call the people of the state to order concerning the way they take care of their environment and dispose of their waste. This, he maintained would do a lot of good to the state.

Mabel Fajimi, a business woman, who sells foodstuff at the Iyana-Ipaja market, blamed the government over the incident. According to him, the ‘I don’t care’ attitude of the government was responsible for the devastation.

“If we are saying people built houses on top of canals, don’t we have a government that should have been going round to monitor how people in the state live?” she asked. “I know there are officials of government who visit houses in the state to ensure that tenement rates and other levies are paid. Why have they not brought down such houses or told the owners before the houses were completed?”

She said one of the ways the issue of flooding could be resolved is for the government to begin a street to street search for houses that are built against the easy flow of water, “and pull them down. The government should not only tell us what they want to do, we should see the officials doing it.”

Jimoh Braimoh, a resident of Agege, explained that he hid in the roof of his house with other tenants of his house while the flood covered the entire area. To him, Agege is the dirtiest area of the state. “The gutters are never kept clean and nobody would dare ask anyone why he threw dirt into the gutter.

“Instead of the ceremonial environmental sanitation that we do once in a month, the government should set up machinery to monitor how owners of houses and their tenants carry out the sanitation. Those who don’t clean their environments should be adequately penalised.

Another resident, who gave his name as Ibrahim Jafar, advised the government to focus more attention on keeping Lagos clean. “This does not mean the government alone should go about working on the gutters and drainages. Instead, it should force the people resident in the different areas of the state to monitor themselves.

“They should be made to know that whenever the drainages in their areas are discovered to be loaded with dirt, they would be made to suffer for it. When two people are brought to book, others would know the government is very serious.”

Ajayi Kolawole, who said he lost almost everything in his room to flood in Ayobo, asked rhetorically what the officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, have been doing.

According to him, when the KAI was established, many thought their job would also involve environmental cleanliness. But it is not so now. All we see these days is that they visit traders, confiscate their goods and arrest some.

“In their presence, you would see people throwing dirt including sachets of pure water into the drainage and nothing happens. It is time to learn because more trouble is hanging somewhere as the flood is expected to continue,” he added.

Akolade Samson, a commuter bus driver summed it up. To him, “the best way to reduce waste in our environment is to ensure that we do not wait to be cajoled to do the right thing. If you see your neighbour throwing dirt in unauthorised places, reprimand him and make him know the consequence.

“The government should be emphatic this time on the policy of having waste basket in every commercial bus in the state so that passengers can use them rather than throw wastes on the road while the vehicles are moving

“At a time, government placed waste baskets along roads. But they are all spoilt now as they were not maintained or monitored. We all have work to do in this regard.”

—Eromosele Ebhomele