Ijora-Badia is a big community in Apapa-Iganmu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State. It is a centrally located neighbourhood, but lacks both the state and Federal Government presence. Residents in this vicinity groan under horrifying hardship bereft of basic social amenities like potable water, electricity, primary health care, poor drainage systems, bad roads and recreational facilities.
Sunday Sun traversed the now growing ghetto and discovered that they are, indeeed, living in abject poverty with age-long poor water condition, most terrible drainage systems, unhygienic environment, poor sanitation, and a comprehensive decadence not too good for human habitation.
Challenging water situation
Water is life as it is commonly said. It is the most important liquid that supports life. As important as water is in human life, accessibility of potable water to residents of Ijora-Badia is akin to the proverbial camel passing through the eye of a needle. At the LCDA headquarters, some councillors, born and bred in the community, were on hand to speak about the age-long poor water situation in the area.
Hon. Sunday Aremu Lawrence is the special adviser on Health to the Chairman of the Council, Alhaja Funmilayo Akande Mohammed.
He said: “On a normal day without traffic gridlock, it will only take three minutes to get to Apapa, seven minutes to Lagos Island and 15 minutes to get to Ikeja from this local government, but this area has been neglected by both governments. Initially, this area was under Apapa Local Government Area before it was carved out as Apapa-Iganmu Local Council Development Area. The first challenge we have in this area is lack of potable water. The headquarters of the Lagos State Water Corporation, popularly called Water House, is located in this area. The corporation supplies water to the entire Lagos State and beyond, but despite our closeness, this constituency does not benefit from the Water House.
“Initially there were no laid pipes, but about eight to 10 years ago, government laid pipes to almost all the major roads. Most streets and buildings were expected to have connected water from the major water pipes. Some did, but the water does not always flow. That is where the problem lies because almost every street has laid pipes without water.”
Abete most hit community in Ijora Badia
In this small community within the LCDA, despite the presence of giant tank farms of oil companies within the area, the community is underdeveloped. Hon. Disu, the Councillor representing Ward ‘D which includes Abete, laments: “The water challenge here is beyond what the eye can see. Denied supply of water from the pipes of the state’s Water Corporation, the people have been left at the mercy of the water vendors, who incidentally sabotage the efforts of the government to make pipe borne water get to the community. On the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the government laid a major water pipe. The water vendors in turn laid smaller water pipes all the way from Badagry Expressway to Ijora- Badia, to pipe water into their various tanks for sale. Selling water is a booming business in the area. Allegations are rife about the serious sabotage from water vendors and that is the reason pipe-borne water is almost unavailable in Ijora-Badia.”
Disu also disclosed that former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola constructed a water reservoir at New Road, which has been moribund, and the result is that the water vendors’ business has continued to boom. To tell the extent of the necessity of water in the community, almost all past and present chairmen and councillors of the local government sank boreholes and worked on the drainage systems to salvage the water problem and prevent the outbreak of diseases.
Alhaja Serifat Jimoh is the councillor representing Ward ‘E and she is fulfilling her campaign promise to sink boreholes in her ward. “I am the first female to represent my ward. I have sunk one borehole and organised proper refuse disposal in my ward; I want government to build at least 13 more boreholes in my ward where two streets could share a borehole centre. Hon. Muyiwa, the deputy leader of my ward and the Council Chairman has given us one borehole each where two to four buckets of water could be sold at N5,” Jimoh said.
Expectations from the government
The Baale of Onimanu, Ganiyu Bankole, who spoke with Sunday Sun went down memory lane to recall what it was like growing up in the area.
He said: “As young individuals who grew up in this area, we had taken the water challenge upon ourselves to find a lasting solution, but our efforts did not yield any positive fruit. We are, therefore, calling on the government, kind-hearted individuals and corporate organisations to come to the aid of the residents by sinking many deep boreholes as soon as possible and allow the council to manage it.
“This measure will alleviate the sufferings of the people. Years ago, we used water from the well which was not good for drinking, but was only good for washing clothes and bathing while water vendors supplied the potable water before the advent of sachet water and table water. With the surge in population, encroachment and resettlement, there came an increase in the demand for inhabitants to get more boreholes sunk. The texture of the soil in this area affects the water, which is not good for human consumption.”
Before the creation of the LCDA, Alhaja Raliat Adebisi Bello was the woman leader in Apapa LGA. She told Sunday Sun: “There has not been pipe-borne water since I moved here in 1984 till date. We have always depended on borehole water, which is not good for human consumption. Our representative then, Hon Lola Abiola-Edewor sank two boreholes for us then at Oniyinde and Arewa, which like water from the other boreholes is not drinkable. We need government to come to our aid by providing clean potable water.”
Lack of public and private schools in Abete
In Lagos State where the All Progressives Congress (APC) operates a free education policy, there is no public primary school in the area. The only schools in the crowded neighbourhood are Dawalatu Islamic Private School, which has a shanty structure that sits on series of wooden planks sank into the swampy soil. The other is Ridoh Nursery and Primary School, managed by Sanni Ridwan Olayemi, which is another makeshift school that collapsed two classes into one because of scarcity of space. Primaries three and four are made up of 12 students in the same class because of scarcity of pupils while Dawalatu Islamic is just a class of a few students studying in an uninhabitable place where danger is always imminent.
From every indication, the health conditions of the pupils trained in such squalid environment will be deficit because of the hazards associated with poor housing. The shanty structures lack adequate ventilation, proper lighting, protection from excessive noise and adequate space. The absence of these features exposes the children to communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, chicken pox, measles and others. As a doctor noted, poor light in such a facility can cause visual impairments and the poor design of the structure can expose them to noise pollution with resultant lack of concentration in school, poor attention and hearing impairments.”
Youths in the area:
As would be expected in slums in the Lagos metropolis, which touts itself as the Centre of Excellence, Abete ripples with idle able-bodied youths, who formed themselves as emergency bodyguards escorted this reporter round the slum community, upon learning about her genuine intention to draw the attention of the government and companies to the plight of the people.
Clearly, not all of them were urchins. Some are footballers who have no hope to further their career; some have been deprived the opportunity to earn daily livelihood by new state policy against use of tricycles and motorcycles to provide transportation service.
Altogether, the pathetic situation of the residents of Abete is a case of unmitigated decadence begging for the attention of Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. But the hardworking gover is for now fully occupied by the worsening picture of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. If the residents test positive for Coronavirus, it could well be bye bye to the community.
When will Governor Sanwo-Olu cast a glance in their direction and bring the area into 21st Century Lagos from where it is currently mired in the 17thcentury squalor?