Isawo Residents Cry Out for Help

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Life has become unbearable for residents of Olorunsogo community in Ikorodu, Lagos, as water released from the Oyan dam belonging to the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority has submerged their homes, reports Femi Ogbonnikan who visited the affected community

For residents of Olorunsogo community, Yewa, Oke-oko filling, Isawo, Ikorodu, Lagos State, it is from one form of problem to another. Two months ago, militants who were scooping petrol from the burst Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines and could no longer make brisk business as a result of the shutdown of the flow of the petroleum products, invaded the sleepy community and went on the prowl, abducting the residents in exchange for ransom and killing some in vengeance for the murder of their members, until armed soldiers backed with fighter jets were deployed in to enthrone sanity in the coastal community.

Three weeks ago, the residents woke up to the flow of water released from Oyan dam of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) which has submerged their homes.
Consequently, residents have, in droves, begun to move out of the community which has become impassable and have decided to squat in the homes of their respective relations in the heart of Ikorodu, while others have put up theirs for sales.

Worse hit are pupils of nursery and primary schools and secondary students who no longer go to school as a result of their inability to pass through the only entry and exit route which has been flooded by the water. Residents too who own vehicles and were caught unaware, before they woke up to the water which has submerged their community, with well over 500 buildings, have no option other than to park them at homes.

When THISDAY visited the community which is made up of three zones, a wooden canoe was being used to ferry the residents in and out at N100 rate.
Secretary of the Olorunsogo Community Development Association (CDA), Mr. Ohikhuemen Fehinti Jacob, lamented over their plight.

According to him, hardly had they settled down, shortly after the militants had besieged their community, kidnapping the residents, forcing many of the inhabitants to take refuge elsewhere, than they were shocked to be greeted with waterflow which has taken over their community.

“We are no longer safe in our community. Between June and August when the militants besieged our community, kidnapping for ransom or killing, many of our inhabitants fled their respective homes for fear of being attacked. And since the Federal Government intervened with the active support of the Lagos State Government, normalcy has returned to the community, following the deployment of armed soldiers backed up with fighter jets and snuffed life out of the rampaging militant who had no other option than to go from one house to another and rob when the only source of their livelihood through the bursting and illegal scooping of petroleum products from the NNPC pipelines have been blocked.

“I was also a victim but with divine intervention I escaped the hammer of the militant by a whisker when they struck at midnight. They came in a dozen, forcefully broke the window pane of my house. The militant spent an hour and 30 minutes, attempting to gain entry into my home. I was at the mercy of the OPC boys who came to my rescue. When the dust has settled and normalcy has returned with the presence of armed soldiers deployed to our community those who had fled their respective homes had to return.

“Again, three weeks ago, to our utter dismay, we were woken up to the strange flow of water in our community. Almost every home has been submerged. Those who own vehicles can’t drive out and those who were caught outside the community before the waterflow have to abandon their vehicles where they are caught up, because it is only one entry and exit route that links the entire community,” said Ohikhuemen, who is a proprietor of Christ Faith Schools.
In the same vein, another resident, Mr. Benjamin Balogun, expressed dismay over the sudden waterflow into the community.

According to him, “instead of the waterflow to recede, since three weeks ago that it was released, it is flowing the more, thereby causing extensive damage to household items. Now, our children and wards can’t go to their various schools because the water has blocked and as well, flooding the only route linking our community. Besides, day-in, day-out, we have been seeing dangerous animals, like aligators and big snakes which have accompanied the waterflow into our community. We are all living in fear. To be honest with you, a large number of our inhabitants have been parking out in droves because they can no longer bear the risks or consequences.

There is a Housing Estate, Wood Island. Virtually, all the residents have parked out. Some have even put up their homes for sale and they have been going to the heart of Ikorodu town to rent apartments and stay. As the situation is getting worse by the day, I am also considering selling my home as well.

“But I am appealing to the state government to please come to our aid. This natural disaster is a perennial thing. The government should come to our rescue by helping us to dredge the canal and also build a bridge across it,” said Balogun.

The Vice Chairman of the CDA, Mr. Fatai Aremu, also seized the occasion to appeal to the Lagos State Government under the able leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, for urgent intervention.

“Most of the developmental projects in this community were done through communal efforts. We raised the money to bring electricity into this community and yet government officials would come and collect Land Use Charges and tenement rates. Since we have been staying in this community no single government either from the federal or state government presence or intervention has been felt here. We are all at the mercy of the token we have been contributing to develop our community.

In the entire Isawo and Agric communities which fall under Ikorodu West Local Council Development Area (LCDA), there is only one public primary school, while the rest are privately owned.
“For this reason, we are appealing to both the federal and state governments to please come to our aid,” Aremu pleaded.