Flooding at Olododo Community Development Association (CDA) in Ayobo-Ipaja Local Council Development Area has made life unbearable for residents in the area. They have suffered from the havoc of flooding which has affected the community geographically, socio-economically and otherwise. While many have abandoned their homes and sought safer abodes, others have stayed because they have no other place to go. They look up to the government for help, Bernard Victory writes.
Akeem Olatunde Ojerinde was not just a son of a family but of the community. He was a 300-level student at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta. He returned home for a vacation, like he had done several times in the past, to spend the break with his parents and siblings.
His family lived at Karimu Street in Olododo community, Ayobo. That day – September 2, 2007, the family was relocating from their own home, after it was taken over by flood. While moving their property to a new abode, Olatunde, the eldest of five children, went in to move out the last of the family’s property. However, the next sound heard was not the sound of property being moved but that of a living being that had all but died in an instant following an electrical shock.
The death of Olatunde is one that cannot be obliterated from the hearts of the residents of the community. He was the second person who had died in the community from electric shock and the two times it happened, it had rained.
“The young man is a very young guy. He just came back from school. When the rain started and the water started coming into the house, the water level was not so high so he went into his house to try to pack his loads.
“Unfortunately, he got electrocuted and that was what forced his parents to abandon the house. He was the first son. Tunde was close to his final year,” Bruno Aduwa, a 32-year-old man in the community, narrated the ordeal.
For 15 years, the community has suffered from the menace of flooding.
Aduwa noted that it was an annual problem every rainy season, stressing that the fear of death during the rainy season had forced many residents to live outside their homes as the water occupied their houses.
“For the past fifteen years, we have been having this same problem of flooding. Some of us came here when there was nothing like that. As the area began to develop, people began to build houses. So every year, we go through this problem.
“Sometimes, the water level is even up to the chest and I cannot leave my house. Money was spent to build the house. It is our family home. I am lucky that it is a story building. Assuming it was a normal bungalow, I will not be able to live there. It is an upstairs so I constructed a Pako (wooden) bridge to enable us link to the house. If it is a downstairs, no one can live there.”
Aduwa, who specialises in fish farming, said that the flood affected his business and cost him losses worth millions of naira.
“I have recorded millions of naira of losses because of the water’s effect on my business. On a normal day like this before I come back, the rain (could have) started and I wouldn’t (be able to) go into my house. When I eventually got in, the fishes I had kept for so many months were all gone,” he lamented.
Calling on the government, he said that various efforts have been made by the landlord associations but the problem was beyond what the community could handle by themselves.
Aduwa, who hails from Akwa Ibom State added, “We have gone to Alausa several times and each time we go there, they always promise us that they are coming. We have not seen the presence of government for so many years.
“We pray that through this medium they will get to hear. We need the government to come and assist us. This problem cannot be solved individually or even the landlord association, so we need the assistance of the government.”
Explaining the cause of the water, Mrs. Tijani Babalanle, who has lived in the community for 20 years, said that the water came all the way from Shakiri and Atan Nla areas, noting that the bad Ashipa Road and its drainage forced the water to lodge in Olododo community.
Babalanle, who is a 60-year-old trader, said, “The water is too much. The water gets into our homes and pursues us out of our houses. The water that comes from Ashipa Road because there is no gutter is what comes here. When this water flows here, you can’t walk through it.
“We are begging the government to come and do our Asipa Road so that the water will not carry us or our children away. They should pity us and come and do it.”
Yusuf Rafiu, a businessman, confirmed the cause of the flood, saying the solution to the problem was to construct good drainage channel on Ashipa Road.
“Until that road is done with a deep gutter,” he said, “there is no solution to this problem. From Ayobo, the water crosses to this side. We need good drainage (channel) so that the water won’t come towards this community (Olododo).”
“We go to Alausa almost every year to let them know what is happening in this area. They came from Alausa to come and study the area. But we don’t know what happen, they forget this road. 2 people have been killed because of this water,” the Osun State-indigene said.
Alhaji Lamidi Taiwo, a retired driver, said that because of the troubles of the flood, he had to accommodate many people from their homes into his house to sleep during the rain.
He said, “I am 78 years old. I have my driving licence but I can no longer drive. Some people come during the rainfall to my house to come and sleep because of the flood.”
Taiwo, a father of six, who lives at Odidinran Street in the community said, “It takes days for the rain to dry. Let the government help us on this road.”
Olusegun Opero, an artisan, vacated his home because of the flood, saying, “This is going to three months that we left our house. We moved to another place for safer pastures. Even my mother’s burial ground is still in front of the house but we still have to leave the house because of the flood. I am a family man.”
According to Opero, who is a 44-year-old father of three, “I have to put tiles in my house which I have not done before. The whole community is destabilised. We need help from the Lagos State Government. What if the house collapses one day?”
In his reaction, the Chairman of Ayobo-Ipaja Community Development Committee (CDC), Comrade Abiodun Coker, said that the CDC had made efforts to solve the problem including having series of meetings and visiting the area.
However, he admitted that the problem was beyond what the CDAs or CDC could do due to insufficient financial resources.
Stating the areas affected by the flooding, Coker said, “At Atan, we have over 12 CDAs affected because the water flows from Odinla across the road because the road is bad. The road is a palliative measure. The drains are not just there. So we now see the water flowing and depositing in that area. We have like four, five axis that the water deposits from into the area. So it has been a very serious problem and it is beyond what the CDAs can do.”
On the efforts of the community to fix the problem, he said, “If you observe, you will see that the community members pour laterite on the road to make it motorable. As they are pouring, it is going down. That area too, we wanted to bring in excavator into Amule-Ashipa road to excavate it at least a kilometer either way. But when we calculated the expected fund, we found it on the high side.
“The CDC leaders also went there to observe with an environmentalist what is going on. We found out that if a road is constructed to pass through Yusuf Sakiru Street to burst out at Isehin road, it will also ease the flooding there. But all these are above the 2-kilometre limit of the local government. Ashipa road have to be constructed with better drains.
“So it is only the state that can come to our aid and we have written letters to the state. The Joint CDA has written letters. The CDC wrote a covering letter on this to the governor of Lagos State, the current governor.
“We have been on it when we were going to his campaign but when he came on board in one of our letters of goodwill we mentioned the said road.
“We just pray that the moment the commissioners are sworn in and cleared by the house, they will swing into action.
“The only thing we pray for is that they will consider us as a priority local government because this is a rural setting,” the CDC leader said.