Residents of Ilasamaja in Oshodi-Isolo Local Council area of Lagos State are sending a save-our-souls message to the state government as flood continues to batter them, and destroy property worth millions of naira. Since the onset of the rainy season, these residents have been on tenterhooks, and their anxiety reaches feverish heights anytime clouds begin to gather ahead of a downpour.
If the downpour is light, they count their blessings, but when it is heavy, they resort to gnashing of teeth as the aftermath is always disastrous.
Narrating their ordeal, the Chairman of Idris Balogun and Fayemi Streets, Dr. Boniface Afifiaoru said they could no longer maintain sealed lips amid the adversity, hence their urgent call for help.
According to him, even in the midst of their plight, they still contributed money to carry out some palliatives all of which have failed to insulate them from the harsh effect of the rampaging floodwater.
“The main problem that we have in this axis of Ilasamaja is the narrow canal, which has brought about this menace. The floodwater that wrecks havoc here comes all the way from Aswani and Iyana Isolo axis. So you can imagine the force, which it comes with. Because the drainage is narrow, not well done, and the government has not de-silted it in the last five years, it has almost been taken over by debris and the surrounding is overgrown with weed. So, when this huge volume of water comes cascading down all the way and there is not enough passage for it to continue its journey, it creates its way, and this results in flooding,” Afifiaoru said.
He continued: “We have been suffering this condition for many years now. For instance, as far back as July 10, 2012, the whole of Idris Balogun Street was submerged, houses were taken over and property destroyed. Since the area is swampy, we were exposed to reptiles, which the floodwater brought into our residences.
The government needs to come over and see things the way they are in order to understand the kind of help that we need. Although the government tried to get things done sometime ago, it left it halfway and the flood afterward destroyed even the little step that had been taken. Right now, the residents of this area feel that the state government has neglected this community. Our streets constitute an eyesore and the government pretends not to see what is happening.”
The chairman, who said most residents and landlords have different sad tales to tell, added, “take a look at this car, it was submerged by floodwater not long ago, and the entire electrical system has been compromised. With all the wires affected by the salt water, which is prevalent here, the cost of repair has been put at N700, 000. So, I’ve parked it there because I’ve not been able to fix it. Despite the little efforts we have put in to minimise the damages, the floodwater still overflows the canal, passes through the gates, and wrecks havoc at will. There are many churches here in Ilasamaja, where their property, including musical sets, have been destroyed. Of course, we all know that once water touches an amplifier, there is no remedy.
“As I speak, after the last round of flood, we still went around to raise money to buy gravel and sharp sand, which we intend to raise a concrete cast to block the canal so that water would stop coming into the street.
It is all part of the efforts that all the landlords on the street are making to enable them and their tenants stay safe,” he said.
He pointed out that the Apostolic Church, which is close to the canal has done a lot of concrete work just to keep the flood at bay, but all to no avail.
“The church has spent so much to get the level of casting to stop the water from encroaching into its premises and destroying property,” the chairman stated, adding, “from the Anglican Church down to the street, we filled the roads with red earth and it cost us about N2m to get that done, yet the whole place is still flooded because the work is yet to be completed. We are not relenting.
The presiding pastor of The Apostolic Church Ilasamaja District, Samuel Adeogun, said the church has been waging a war against the flood since last year now.
“We’ve been battling with this flood since last year, and as we make progress, the flood is surging due to the problem of the narrow canal. The government has not been able to clear the canal, which we were told was to take place over five years now.
That is what has been causing the problem, and as you can see, the flood has overwhelmed everyone here. Anytime there is a downpour, the floodwater simply goes straight into the church over there, and sips into the church building through the window.
“For some time now, the church has been trying to erect a fence, but the flood keeps on disturbing the progress of that project. Since the fence project has not been completed, the flood easily has its way into the church compound.”
Even though the church is not the only victim of the flood, Adeogun said, “we are just the end receiver of the flooding, but we are not the only sufferers. As you can see, other churches, a school, as well as other structures are also victims of the flood.”
A school proprietor in the area, Mr. Joel Akoh said the perennial flood has intimidated residents and people doing business in the area for long.
“Once there is a downpour, the canal overflows, covering everywhere, ranging from the empty land to built-up areas. And after the rains, it takes a long time for the water to dry up. Of course, when this happens, going out to do our businesses becomes a challenge as the streets become soggy and impassable.
In the process, we are also cut off from the rest of the state as no one could wade into floodwater to visit you.
“What is happening to us is beyond our resources and that is the truth. I have spent over N500, 000 just to ensure that the flood does not swallow us up. When I first arrived here, there was a very high dumpsite here, which we cleared. But the truth is when I moved to this location in 2011, floodwater was already ravaging the place and we have been battling it all these years,” he said.
The proprietor added: “One thing I can say is that once the canal is cleared, the flood problem is almost fully addressed because water will stick to its part of course. But now, the canal is overgrown. We recently taxed ourselves N10, 000 to buy materials and erect an embankment that will restrain floodwater from straying into some areas. Maybe, if it’s high enough, we may have a little reprieve.”
He urged the state government to also treat them as taxpayers, who all contribute to the development of Lagos State.
“Regularly, tax officials come for our taxes, and if we don’t pay on time, they call us unceasingly to get their money. The essence of paying tax is to benefit from amenities and enjoy good roads and drainage, but our community still suffers a great deal from flood, so we need government’s presence at Ilasamaja.”