Floods have recently rendered homeless hundreds of thousands residents of some townsÂ and villages in Ogun and Lagos States. MOYO FABIYI visited some of the affectedÂ areas and here writes on their sufferingsâ€¦
Since penultimate Sunday when Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development AuthorityÂ discharged excess water threatening its Oyan dam located off Abeokuta-SokotoÂ Expressway, things have fallen apart and life no longer at ease for thousands ofÂ residents of villages such as Wawa, Arepo, Magboro in Ogun State andÂ Ajegunle-Ikorodu, Ikosi in Lagos states have been subjected to all manners ofÂ suffering by the ravaging floods.
To a curious traveller on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Arepo town, landlords of twoÂ journalistsâ€™ estate is a hilly or at least a flood-free environment. However, aÂ five-minute drive inside Arepo revealed the contrary. Although many areas of theÂ town are free from the two-week old floods, a number of estates, especially thoseÂ close to the wet valley or river bank in the town have been hit by the devastatingÂ water.
But the hilly areas, like the Journalistsâ€™ Estate Phase I, was flood-free. AÂ resident, Fabian Anawo confirmed what P.M.NEWS suspected during the visit to Arepo.Â A staff of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi, Lagos,Â Anawo said: â€œThere is no problem of flood in journalistsâ€™ estate phase I as you canÂ see. But phase II, any time it rains, the place may be flooded, even before theÂ discharge of water from Oyan Dam.
At Journalistsâ€™ Estate Phase I, some houses have been taken over by the floods andÂ the residents have fled. None of the security guards at the entrance of the estateÂ was available.
Worst hit by the floods is Starcomms Estate, Arepo. So devastating was the floodingÂ that a canoe was tied up inside the compound of a house behind Balogun Street,Â Arepo. The Akogun of Arepo, Chief Lateef Ashadu, told P.M.NEWS that there had beenÂ perennial floods during the peak of rainy season but it had never been as bad asÂ they have witnessed in the last two weeks.
A victim, Mrs. Veronica Ibeabuchi a.k.a. Iya Anama narrated her familyâ€™s nauseatingÂ experience thus; â€œIt was about 2 a.m, suddenly, water took over our house. All ourÂ television sets, other electronics including generating sets were destroyed. I haveÂ since occupied a shop. My husband and children have been squatting in other places.
Another family nearby lost properties worth millions of naira to the floods.Â According to a woman who pleaded anonymity, the floods have submerged all theirÂ household items including a new 30 KVA generator worth N2.5 million, three otherÂ generators, six television sets and a home theatre.
She said, â€œsince the floods came, I have moved our dogs to a veterinary doctor whereÂ we have been paying N45,000 per day on each of our five dogs. We presently reside inÂ a friendâ€™s house. Everyday my children ask me questions: â€˜mummy, when are we goingÂ to our house?â€™ Two of our cars could not be retrieved from the compound. Since threeÂ years ago when we moved to our house here, we have never witnessed this type ofÂ floods.â€
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Victoria Odin said the water caught her family of eightÂ unawares. She said two of their cars including a Nissa Pathfinder have beenÂ submerged. The Delta State born Mrs. Odin said the family moved into their propertyÂ only six weeks ago.
â€œIn fact, we were contemplating selling off the house. But we are being persuadedÂ not to do so, as the water would soon recede,â€ said Mrs. Odin.
Residents who have moved out of the Victoria Estate and Starcomms Estate accordingÂ to the victims included one of the wives of the late business magnate and winner ofÂ the 12 June, 1993 Presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola. â€œI donâ€™t know her nameÂ or which one of them, but one of Abiolaâ€™s wives just moved out of this place,â€ saidÂ our source.
Meanwhile, Ogun State government has arraigned for an alternative accommodation forÂ the victims. Forms have been sent to Olu of Arepo, Oba Solomon Atanda Oyebi who hasÂ directed his Akogun, Chief Shaolu, to coordinate the project.
A similar visit to Magboro, also on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway showed that only aÂ few areas of the town were affected. The Magboro inside or Magboro II, especiallyÂ the swampy portions were badly affected. But the area is not densely populated. SomeÂ of the affected buildings have not been completed, while the few that are completedÂ were not yet occupied, hence, only a few people were displaced in the area.
Similarly, the whole of Eyinosa area in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State hasÂ almost succumbed to floods. Towns and villages badly affected include Okolondo,Â Ibode, Popoku, Onigbongbo, Origele, Erewe and Itogbesa.
Pupils have not been able to attend schools because many parents have relocated toÂ safer environs. Economic activities have been paralysed since the major occupationÂ of the people, fishing, has been put on hold.
A resident of Okolondo who claimed to be about 60 years old, Salawatu Yekini saidÂ she has never witnessed such a ravaging flood in her life. Baale of the town, ChiefÂ Ramoni Adams bemoaned the fate of the residents, some of whom had relocated. TheÂ 75-year-old, however, said old people like him found it difficult to desert theirÂ ancestral home. â€œWhere do I run to? This is the home of my great grandfathers.Â WeÂ may find a safe place for the children. But we have no other community we can callÂ our own but this flooded town,â€ the baale said.
The Ajegunle community in Mile-12-Ikorodu road also in Lagos State was also affectedÂ by the flood. The state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, during a visit to theÂ affected areas assured the people of an alternative accommodation as a palliativeÂ measure.
Fashola regretted that help was coming late to the victims of the Ajegunle floodsÂ which he called a national disaster that the National Emergency Management Agency,Â NEMA should address. He said NEMA should rescue the residents before floods sweepÂ them away.
He noted that the place was not habitable but people stayed there to eke a living.Â This, he said, they must not do at the expense of their welfare.
But many of the residents were of the view that if the government could provideÂ drainage channels in the area, their flooding problems will be ameliorated. While aÂ few of them were willing to move out, majority of the others were pleased to travelÂ around the community in canoes.
â€”Additional reports by Paul Sanusi