Whenever Lagos State government says it is taking giant strides towards attaining the status of a mega city, some Lagosians usually take such assertions with a grain of salt. Among these skeptics are residents of Agboyi-Ketu, Owode Onirin, Isheri, Ajegunle, Agiliti, Kara, Majidun, in Kosofe and Ketu Agboyi local councils, who are currently sending a save our souls message to the government over the massive floods ravaging their communities. This usually occurs when River Ogun overflows. And not only are valuable property destroyed in the process, deaths of teenagers that fell from makeshift bridges into the flood have also been recorded.
The residents disclosed that the problem occurs every three years, whenever the Oyan Dam in Ogun State is opened and it consequently flows into the Ogun River, causing a serious rise in the tide, such that the communities in its surroundings are flooded.
For the past three months, residents in the Ajegunle area have been undergoing untold hardship, occasioned by the flood. For one, their roads are no longer passable, and many motorists and pedestrians have had to make do with other rugged alternatives. A recent visit by The Guardian showed that many residents have had to construct plank bridges to access their homes, while in several cases, the only means to go to their homes was by canoe.
More worrisome is that the flooding has now become a yearly occurrence and usually lasts for three to five months, unlike before when it occurred once in three years.
The communities first experienced the devastation in 2013, when the Ogun River overflowed its banks and nearly swept some communities away. At that time, the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola quickly sprang into action and relocated most of the community members to different IDP Camps in the state.
The ensuing disaster was so much then that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s attention was drawn to it. Consequently, he visited the affected areas to commiserate with the victims. It was alleged that the Fashola administration had to rescind its initial plan of demolishing all structures that were close to the Unity Street Canal and River Ogun along with makeshifts buildings because of the plea of the former president, who said he also grew up in worse communities in the Niger Delta region.
To address the situation, Fashola had embarked on regular clearance of the canal and dredging of River Ogun. But the embittered residents told The Guardian, last week, that since Fashola, who is the incumbent Minister of Works and Housing, left office in 2015, subsequent administrations have declined to toe his path, as they have done little or nothing to improve the situation. Not only have they discontinued the dredging of the river, the canal that provided passage for the tide has been completely blocked.
A landlady in the area, who refused to disclose her identity, said: “I have been living in this place for over 35 years. We started experiencing this ordeal from 2013. Personally, I believe that some Lagos State officials have interest in these areas and are looking for every excuse to demolish all the structures here, so that they can take over.”
In her view, if there is no hidden agenda, finding a lasting solution to the problem should not constitute a big deal to the state government. “But because some people in government are nursing the ambition of taking over the areas and redeveloped it to their taste, nothing concrete is being done. I don’t see why government would not construct a good canal that will contain the tide, whenever the Oyan Dam is opened,” she said. (Guardian)