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Lagosians’ Perennial Deal With Flooding



The sudden recourse to canoe for movement in Lagos State by some residents in recent times, due to flooding any time it rains is a lesson Lagos residents will not forget in a hurry. This is because in the last 10 days, Lagos State has been witnessing flooding in some parts of Mainland, Victoria Island, Lekki and its environs. Though other states of Nigeria are not exempted in this problem, the fact that Lagos is surrounded by water seems to have worsened the situation.

A downpour that lasted for several hours in Lagos recently wreaked havoc in different parts of the    state, destroying property worth huge sums of money, even as the floods washed away a four- year old girl. Some houses had their roofs pulled off by windstorm in Lekki , Ajah , Orile –Agege areas of the state  thereby displacing over20 households.

Many residents of the state could not go about their daily businesses for days as a result of the flooding that accompanied the heavy rain. At 12 , Hassan Adejobi Street, Papa Ashafa, Orile Agege, a windstorm partially collapsed a bungalow which injured  a mother and  her daughter whose predicament was worsened by the deluge that eventually sacked them from their home.

About 20 families were displaced by the flood in that locality when the rain finally subsided. As the rains pounded the state the next day, a 19-year-old girl, simply identified as Ayisat, was swept away by flood around Alapafuja axis, Surulere Low-Cost Housing Estate. The remains of the 19-year-old teenager who was swept away by flood was eventually recovered and buried by the community members beside the Canal at Onilegogoro.

Some residents who spoke with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in separate interviews about recent floods that hit some communities in the state following a heavy downpour lamented that the deluge was so massive that they were unable to leave their homes.

Lagos residents urged the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide SanwoOlu, to give priority attention to the clearing of canals in the metropolis to convert its efforts made so far to permanent gains. Speaking on behalf of the residents of Orile Agege, Alhaji Kola Abiodun said,

‘’We are suffering from flooding in this community. Any time it rains, our roads become flooded, we will be cut off and our property will be destroyed. The shops would be locked and in some cases goods in the shops are destroyed by floods. Year in year out we continue to record huge economic loss.’’

Commenting on the problem of flooding in Lagos, Managing Director of Buildwell International Company Limited, Engr Afolabi Adedeji said some structures were built on drainage channels thereby aggravating flooding.

The built environment expert noted that, “Lagos is below the sea level but the challenge is because it is below line. Water normally flows from the high gravity to lower gravity so achieving sufficient gradient is the problem.

Then you have this issue of people building indiscriminately.  If the buildings on the drainage channels belong to the high and mighty, what will you do about it? “Even where drainages are properly constructed, to get an adequate gradient of flop for the water to flow by gravity from the primary grains right up through the lagoon, it might not be so easy and that is why in countries that have similar challenges like Netherlands, Holland they go to the extent of having pumping stations to reduce the flow of the excess water.

“I know Nigeria is going to get there in tackling the problem of flooding but there are solutions and approaches.” Painting a gloomy picture,  the Lagos State commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, and special adviser to the governor on Drainages and Water Resources, Mr Joe Igbokwe, warned residents to prepare for likelihood of high level of flooding in the state due to planned release of 15 million cubic meters of water from Oyan River dam coupled with predicted high intensity of rainfalls between July and August, 2020.

They directed all residents living within low-lying areas to vacate their houses because of potential dangers that may accompany torrential rainfall such as injury and loss of lives. According to Bello, the dam is opened yearly as a mitigating effect to create space in the dam for the storm water to have its maximum deployment.

He added that the amount of water released yearly is determined by the combination of index of Suggested Rainfall Pattern, SRP and AFO and Hydrological data base of OgunOshun River Basin Development Authority, OORBDAL. His said: “In July, 5 million cubic meters (mcm) while by August, they will release 8 to 10 million cubic meters.

“In September, it will be increased to 18 million cubic meters, while in October 23 million cubic meters will be released which is the peak. Then by November gradual reduction of water release to the tube of 11million cubic meters.” Bello explained that the designed capacity of the dam is 270 million cubic metre with an annual runoff of 1770mc3, “however, this capacity has proved inadequate for today’s runoff of excess 2,372 million cubic metre, a clear 602 million cubic metre above the designed capacity.”

He noted that the excess water is not only from the dam reservoir but also from resultant effect in the catchment upstream “The ungated lkere Gorge and other ancillary water bodies also contribute by discharging directly to Lagos water,” Bello stated. He listed the types of flooding Lagos usually experience to include: river, coastal, flash and urban flooding.

Bello, however, sympathised with residents of the state on the heavy downpour of June 17 and 18 which left in its trail the damage and destruction of some properties through flooding and reported loss of loved ones.

“Our prayers are that God will give those who lost loved ones the fortitude to bear the loss and to those whose properties were damaged by the flash floods, we share in your feelings at this period. Almighty God will replenish your losses,” Belllo prayed. He stressed that the state government had once again seen the need to come out to reawaken residents on the potential dangers that lie in ignoring warnings in terms of measures put in place to prevent or minimize the incidence of flooding in our environment.

Bello recalled that the Nigerian Meteorological Services, NIMET, had earlier predicted  the increasing frequency of extreme weather events which indicated that year 2020 will likely experience days with extremely high rainfall amounts which may result in flooding. He continued: “Let me state here that the volume of rainfall will be very high in June as we are experiencing and will run into July, and September as well.

Fears should however not be entertained because the State Government has mapped out strategies to contain the flooding that may result from the heavy rainfalls.” As part of measures to contain flooding, Bello disclosed that the state government is presently working on 222 secondary channels out of which 146 had been completed across the state just as 46 primary channels are receiving attention presently.

He said, “This is in addition to the efforts of our Emergency Flood Abatement Gangs (EFAG) that are being deployed round the state to undertake quick fix to free manholes or clogged up drains manually. “The drainage channels are spread round all the divisions of the state. What is very instructive about the drainage channels that are receiving attention is that many of such channels have been cleaned and tons of solid refuse excavated from the canals and simultaneously carted away.

“It is important to state that for a coastal city like Lagos once it rains consistently for a minimum of 8 hours, we are bound to have flash floods caused by the increasing inability of high rise of the lagoon which is brought about by a rise of the ocean waters. “This will automatically lock up all our drainages and until the water level goes down, the drainages would be unable to discharge. This is the new wave in most coastal cities around the world including those who have adopted the best of technological advancements to contain flooding.”

Bello said, “All residents who live within low lying areas must always vacate their house when rain starts. This is because no one can determine the volume or intensity of rainfall when it starts. “What should be uppermost in the minds of such people is that if they wait until the rainfall ceases or subsides they may be trapped and unable to move or may not even be alive to tell the story.

“It is advisable that such people may only return after the rainfall while ensuring that minors and young ones are secured and restrained from going during downpours as they run the risk of sustaining injuries or even falling into ditches which may result in loss of lives. “We must all gird your loins and be ready for the additional heavy rainfalls that the state will still experience till the end of June, in July and September.”