Prepare for heavier rainfall, Lagos warns residents
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Odita Sunday and Kehinde Olatunji
• Flood throws Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki into darkness
• Police block Ahmadu Bello Way, NTA Network service shut
• Lagosians lament hike in transport fare, task govt on rescue
Chaos is a milder way to describe the state of Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Lekki, Ajah and environs as panicked citizens endured a weekend of torrential downpour and thunderstorms, which left many parts of the city flooded.
Residents woke up on Saturday morning to flooding in their homes and their cars submerged under water. Those who were far from the disaster zone could only stare at their hand-held devices and television screens in awe at the flood that didn’t take many by surprise.
One brave resident took to swimming in the infested waters on Lekki road, an affluent suburb that is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the coastal city. Another was spotted kayaking across Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island.
The nation’s commercial capital was hit by days of persistent heavy rain and storms at the height of the rainy season. However, poor drainage systems and inadequate urban planning have compounded the effects of the downpour.
Following the unprecedented flood that has taken over the entire Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, Lagos at the weekend, forcing some residents to unceremoniously vacate their premises, the Lagos State Police Command has temporarily closed the road for human and vehicular movements.
According to the command’s spokesman, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, the second link-road to the island coming from Lagos mainland was unsafe for motorists.
He said the downpour has made other roads on the island unsafe, adding that due to the flood and traffic gridlock in parts of Victoria Island and its environs, motorists plying Ahmadu Bello Way and other areas prone to flood have been advised to take alternative routes approved by traffic officials.
“The flood in the area has caused us to temporarily block Ahmadu Bello Way for safety of motorists. We want the public to know that the relevant traffic and security agencies are on ground to flush out the drains and secure road users in the state,” he said.
Furthermore, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said efforts are ongoing to drain the water out of the road, adding that the decision to divert commuters stemmed from the urgent need to avert disaster as rainwater found its way into the diesel storage of a filling station, a situation he said could lead to a disaster if not properly handled.
Making a bad situation worse, the management of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) on Sunday announced that there would be power outage in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and its environs as the company’s injection substations and equipment were submerged in the flood.
General Manager, Corporate Communications, EKEDC, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, said the company was having challenges in almost all its injection substations as a result of the flood from heavy rains on Saturday.
According to Idemudia, some of EKEDC transformers in the areas have been submerged. The general manager said the management of the company had directed that transmission be ‘deloaded’ in the affected areas for safety.
He said that the injection substations affected by the flood included Lekki Transmission Station, Agungi, Lekki, Ademola and Anifowoshe. “Victoria Garden City, Water Front, Maroko and Oniru Injection stations are completely out.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network centre on Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, has been shut owing to the flood, which accrued from the rainfall of the early hours of Saturday.
The station shutdown transmission on Saturday afternoon. An official of the station, who spoke off the record, said the office would remain shut till Monday.
“Our office has been shut because of the flood. Although the water has gone down now, the management has decided that for safety reasons, activities should be suspended until Monday,” he said.
Mr. Tosin Olalere, who resides at Abraham Adesanya Estate in Ajah, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he has been in his house since Wednesday due to the continuous rain.
“There has been no vehicular movement since Wednesday July 5, till now. People in my community have resorted to trekking or using canoe to move about. Some people have even started moving out of the community because of the flood, which destroyed their property,” he said.
Some passengers in a commercial bus from mainland to the island complained of outrageous amount they paid to get to Victoria Island due to the flood on Ahmadu Bello Way.
A student, who declined to give her name, said she spent over four hours in traffic from Oshodi to Ajah because of the flood. She said she and other passengers paid N1,000 from Oshodi to Ajah instead of the usual fare of N400. “People were even rushing to board the bus despite the crazy increase in the fare.”
Another passenger, who simply gave her name as Obianuju, said she tried to avoid paying N1,000 to Ajah from Oshodi by boarding a bus to Obalende for N250 from Oshodi only to find out that the fare from Obalende to Ajah had also skyrocketed.
“I paid N250 from Oshodi to Obalende in order not to pay N1,000, only to get there and the drivers were charging N700 from Obalende to Ajah. It was really annoying.”
Reacting to the development, the Lagos State government reiterated its call for residents to observe extreme caution on the roads as torrential rain persists across the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said heavy downpour is expected for a few more weeks and warned residents to desist from dumping refuse on water channels. He urged residents to stay indoors, either at home or in their places of work whenever there is a heavy downpour, except when the need to commute becomes necessary.
Ayorinde assured the public of heavy deployment of environmental sanitation officers and emergency rescue teams to flood-prone areas of the state. He also solicited the support of citizens to desist from dumping refuse in canals and gutters and observe safe and hygienic conducts at all times in order to reduce the effect of temporary flooding being recorded in some areas.
Residents of Chevy View estate, off Chevron Drive, Ajah at the weekend pleaded with the state government to help in the flood disaster the community is currently facing. They noted that residents have packed out of their houses and many businesses have crumbled because of the flood.
Speaking with The Guardian, Mrs. Oyegberighe Justina, who is the administrator officer of Udeko Medicals, noted that the estate has been flooded for months. “So many businesses have crumbled, so many shops are locked up because no one is patronizing them, half of their shop is water and it is so terrible that most of the residents have moved out.
“When residents contributed money recently and contractors began work we were happy thinking the issue of flood has stop but it only got worse. The problem is poor drainage system. This water will dry up only if it doesn’t rain for the next two weeks.”
Convener of Njiko AniochaOshimili, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, said there was need for government to re-plan the Lekki axis. “The solution is opening up the channels to the Atlantic, demolishing obstacles on the route, and re-planning the Lekki axis.”
Source: The Guardian