‘Before I could organize myself and wake the children, all my electronics, books and other household items including food stuff worth millions of naira were gone in the midnight rain’
By Valentine Amanze
Lagos floods have remained without solution for a long time. Reason: No government in the state has really shown commitment to ending the problem.
In the state government’s N1.768 trillion budget of 2023, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did not disclose how much was earmarked for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, which has the mandate to ensure a flood-free, hygienic and beautiful Lagos; and a mission to foster a clean, healthy and sustainable environment that will be conducive for tourism, economic growth and wellbeing of its citizenry.
The non-disclosure makes it very difficult to know whether the ministry is under-funded or otherwise to enable one know where and how to channel complaints on environmental issues.
A functional Environmental Ministry in Lagos would have drawn the attention of the governor on the menace of flood and the need to dredge all the canals in Ago Okota area of Isolo, Surulere, Ijesha, Mile 2 and other places.
The governor’s lack of commitment in human interest issues is becoming worrisome.
The non-dredging of canals, especially at Ago Okota area, is given residents nightmare during the rainy season.
Anytime rain falls, the canals overflow, causing heavy flooding at Ago-Okota, Canal View Estate close to Jakande area; Satellite, Ketu, Oke-Afa and other areas of Lagos. This is because of huge refuse dumped inside the canal around Fredrick Fashoun bridge, which is obstructing the free flow of water in the canal.
When the flood comes, the roads are washed away, while economic activities in the affected areas are grounded.
The effects of dumping of refuse in the Ago canal manifested in the flood that devasted residents on Saturday September 9, 2023, and Saturday September 16, 2023.
The two days will ever remain green in the memories of thousands of the flash flood victims in the affected areas.
Yours sincerely is a victim of the disaster at Canal View Estate – close to Jakande area of Isolo.
After the day’s activities, the heavy rain, which caused blackout, forced me to bed early on September 9, 2023. With heavy bangings on my door by water, I woke up to find myself floating on my bed.
The irony was that the water was entering the house with speed – from the walls, doors and the floor. It was difficult to checkemake.
Before I could organize myself and wake the children, all my electronics, books and other household items including food stuff worth millions of naira were gone in the midnight rain.
It repeated the following weekend. This time, no compound was spared. Many, who had forsight, took their vehicles to safety areas in nearby Jakande Estate, while the vehicles of the not-so-lucky ones were submerged by the weekend flood which also flushed out acquatic animals and all types of reptiles.
While epidemic looms, some families, who abandoned their apartments, are yet to return; those who had no choice, stayed back to dry their rooms.
But it was a business boom for water pump operators in the area, whose machines were rented out to flushout water from houses and shops.
Though the National Emergence Management Agency (NEMA) gave early warning of the flood, there was no choice for the residents as the government provided no alternative or shown any concern to their plight.
It would have been wonderful for the governor to identify with his subjects, who lost household items worth billions of naira.
The flood wouldn’t have had heavy impact on the citizens if the state government, local government and residents had shown concern on environment issues.
It is also very surprising that drenages including gutters in Lagos are not maintained by both the state and local governments.
They have become dumpsites thereby blocking the free flow of water. Even when they are cleared by volunteers, they end up dumping the refuse on the roadside; waiting for another rain to push them back inside the gutter.
Any right thinking person knows that the canals could be money spiner for the state government. When dredged, they would boost water transportation in Lagos. People will be attracted to invest in boats to convey passengers cheaper and pay levies to the government in this era of high petrol cost.
Governor Sanwo-Olu must wake up and find a lasting solution to the perenial flood in Lagos by showing commitment in solving environmental challenges.
He must prioritise the dredging of the canals. When the population is washed away by flood there would be no subjects to govern.
Dumping of refuse in the canals and the gutters must stop, while victims of the natural disaster should be identified and compensated.
Let there be functional laws guiding the maintenance of Lagos canals and drenages. Food and drugs should be provided to the victims to ameliorate their suffering.