Lagos Community Imprisoned by Floods

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For 12 years, the Araromi-Odo community in Bariga, Lagos has suffered immeasurable losses to the poor drainage and flooding in the area. Its residents are calling on the government to save them from their plight. Funmi Ogundare writes

Derelict facilities, overgrown weeds, lack of good drainage system compounded by flooding pervade the sleepy community of Araromi-Odo located in the heart of Bariga under the Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State, with an estimated population of 100,000 majority of whom are pensioners, civil servants, artisans, unemployed youths and hawkers.

Entrance to the community is through Palm Groove Bus-stop, University of Lagos or Pako, as well as through the Third Mainland Bridge.

For a first time visitor to this community, a flooded road stairs one in the face which had been made worse by poor drainages that breed mosquitoes and houseflies that have become a nuisance to the people both day and night.

When this reporter visited the community on a very hot afternoon, on a fact finding mission, it was a bumpy ride on a motorcycle popularly called Okada, and at a point she had to alight and waded through the flood that has taken over major streets such as Odukoya, Ogunleye, Fagbemi, Ifeanyi and Isale Oshifolarin and have been rendered impassable.

Even children who had just closed from schools at that time, had to be helped by adults through the flood as the water had risen to knee level.

The Community Development Committee Chairman, Mr. Bili Akindele who explained the cause of the flooding, told THISDAY that the water usually comes from the canal from adjourning Third Mainland Bridge, adding that the flood causes buildings to sink and impedes on the movement of children and adults in the community.

According to him, “the flood makes the sewage reservoirs to overflow as fecal waste runs into the flood which consequently causes sickness and diseases, and also contaminates food. Businesses are also affected during the season as there is low patronage.”

The volume of the water he said, keeps rising daily with the high ocean tide and the community members are threatened by the flood coming through the drainage, adding that the residents have been suffering from this in the last 12 years.

“All along the streets have been submerged in the water and anytime it rains it usually worsens it.”
Akindele affirmed that the community members had also resorted to self-help work to repair the drainage, adding that four years ago, the former chairman of the local government council had donated one million naira as part of his contribution to enable them repair the road and make it more motorable.

The Chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA), Mr. Peter Adeola John, said when officials of the Ministry of Works and Environment came to inspect the area three years , they discussed on how the government could provide help but up till now, nothing has been done.

“We have written letters about six times to the government through the ministry, they received the letters from us and even asked us to come that they would work on it, but up till now, nothing has really been done except when they came for survey.”

Residents of the community have however expressed their sadness about the situation saying the suffering is too much. They are appealing to the state and local governments to look into their plight and ensure that good network of roads and drainages are constructed in a shortest time to prevent collapse of buildings and loss of properties in the community.

A resident who sells provision in a small stall, Mrs. Monsurat Yusuf said the water usually comes early in the morning and evening when the water level from the canal is high, adding that it is affecting their businesses and children sometimes are unable to go to school.

“We want the government to come and assist us to do the drainage and also reconstruct the road,” he said.
A food seller, Mrs. Sikirat Saheed said aside affecting her business, the flood is also affecting her health.

The Pastor of Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Ileri Oluwa, also in the community, expressed concern that the flood has made him lose membership saying, “the water is our problem here, there is nothing we can do about it, as it enters into the church compound, it is affecting the population, people cannot come in to worship with us again.”

Mr. Daniel Ugbaja said throughout the rainy season and high ocean tide, the community is over-run with flood and all roads in Araromi Odo are impassable.

“The flood makes the sewage reservoirs to overflow as fecal waste runs into it which consequently causes sicknesses and diseases; as well as contaminates food. Businesses are also affected during this season as there is low patronage.”

As a result of insufficient electric poles in the community, he said the few poles available are overloaded and as such, light trips off and there are constant spark on the poles which affects everybody in the community with danger of electric shocks.

“The fluctuation of electric current destroys appliances such as fridges that are used by traders in the community to cool drinks and store perishable food items which adversely affects income generation,” he lamented.