- How Lekki, Victoria Island, Ajah, others were devastated
By YUSUF MOHAMMED
Heavy rainfall is something that many Lagos residents, especially those living on the Island would not wish for in a hurry as it brings sorrow to many families after losing properties to flood. And the last few weeks have been different. To most Lagosians living in the most affected areas, the coming of rains is a dreaded annual experience and this year’s seems to have matched previous occasions.
From the mainland to the Island, most Lagos roads were flooded. However, it was more devastating on the Island. From Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Ajah and Badore to Banana Island, many residents could not come out of their homes due to the flood. The situation was so terrible that, residents of the Island now get scared whenever it is about to rain.
BusinessHallmark took a trip to some parts of the Island to find out from residents and shop owners how this flood affected them.
“It was terrible, my brother,” lamented madam Grace, who runs a restaurant and beer parlour at Agungi. “Due to the flood I couldn’t open my place to sell anything. I lost a lot of money that day. I know how much I make on a daily bases. For four days I couldn’t open my shop because I had to wait for the water to dry up. You can see the road leading to my shop is sloppy, so it took time for it to clear,” she lamented.
It was a similar story for Tunde Ibikunle, a resident of Lekki phase II. Unfortunately for him, he moved in two months ago. Speaking with BusinessHallmark, he narrated his ordeal thus:
“I just moved into this place. I was very happy when I moved in initially. My friends had warned me about moving to this place because of the flood. I was carried away by the serene environment. Look at what I am going through now. Almost all my electronics have spoilt because of rain.”
Asked why he didn’t move some of his valuables to a safe place, he said, “I wasn’t at home. I went out the previous day and spent the night at a friend’s place. Only for me to get home the next day to see that my living room was like a swimming pool.”
Ali who lives in Jakande area of Ajah and works as a chef in a hotel in Ikoyi told Business Hallmark that he was not able to use his mattress for many days and that his electronics have been destroyed.
“The lucky ones were those whose television sets were on a high table. My own TV was on the floor so it has been destroyed. Up till now people are still packing water from their living rooms. We are pleading with the government to do something so that it won’t happen again. Both big men and poor people are being affected so I believe they will act fast.”
He further stated that, “While people on the mainland joked about our plight, we didn’t find it funny at all. The pictures of those you saw swimming were not doing it for fun, they had no choice. There were actually areas where you had to swim if you wanted to get past there.
“I saw so many pictures on social media making jest of the whole issue. This isn’t a joke. People lost their properties to this flood. I am calling on government to do something urgently,” he stressed.
What seems to be the cause of flood in Lagos, especially in areas where the rich and mighty live?
An urban and regional planning expert, Mr. Kayode Komolafe blamed the flood on the overpopulation of Lagos which has led to many people building their houses in the wrong places. He was of the view that you cannot cheat nature and that houses should not be built everywhere on the Island.
“This sand filling matter is getting out of hand. Most of the structures that have been erected are in the wrong places. They are on top of water. Everyone cannot leave on the Island. There are many places on the mainland in need of urgent attention. There is space in some areas that can be developed to the taste of these big men.
“What happened to Badagry? How about Ikotun, Yano Ipaja, or Mowe Ibafo? The more they neglect other places and want to congest the Island which is meant for water, we should expect more of it in the future.”
Wasiu Kamoru who also lives in Ajah said “what goes around comes around”. “This big men who are in government positions thought that they were wise when they moved into the estates and abandoned us in the rough areas of the Island with poor drainages. Look at the gutters. They are filled up with pure water nylons and plastics of coke and the rest. It is the blockage of these gutters that led to the flood.
“There is no way outside an estate will be flooded due to bad drains that it won’t get into the estate. It is what they ignored that caught up with them. Although it is the poor people who live around the estates that suffered the more, the big men also suffered too. We are in it together,” he said smiling.
It was not limited to the Island as people on the mainland also suffered. A community in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State was submerged in flood water, trapping some students in a Nursery and Primary school in the area following the persistent heavy downpour. The heavy rainfall, which started as early as 8 am, paralysed both human and vehicular activities as most parts of the state were taken over by flash floods. As a result, motorists and commuters were trapped in traffic across the state.
According to a concerned resident of Orile-Agege, one of the worst hit areas said the pupils of Ladoje Nursery and Primary School in the area could not leave the premises because of the intensity of the rain.
In the view of Rotimi Fasan who resides in Apapa, Lagos “Given its status as Nigeria’s major and most metropolitan state, Lagos deserves special consideration. The city is home to Nigerians from all parts of the country and the rate of infrastructural decay in the state owes a lot to the massive inflow of people into it.”
Last year, the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Samuel Adejare, in a statement warned residents in areas prone to flood not to be outside unnecessarily whenever it rains heavily. He also warned them leave the area.
“You are implored as much as possible to stay indoors unless it is essential to your safety and livelihood. However, we strongly advise those who live in lowland and close to water bodies to move upland.”
Meanwhile, the State Government earlier assured residents not to panic at the sight of the flood, as it would soon recede as all efforts are on ground to ensure the safety of lives and property as well as flood-free Lagos, in spite of persistent rainfall.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu added that there’s no excuse for road users to break traffic rules by taking one-way and going against traffic.
In a statement released through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, he declared a state of emergency on Lagos roads and has ordered massive repair work on critical highways across the state.