This is a plaintive call to Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, to come to the rescue of the three communities that make up Alonge Island in Ikupodo, Iba Local Council Development Area, Lagos. We are very worried about the safety of our children because we are facing the very real threat from flood. The level of water in the canal that surrounds our community has risen so much and had been surging into the community.
In fact, we are scared that it could just submerge the makeshift footbridge we use to go into and ou of our community. We are on the fringe of Obadore community and one road leads out of the area, to connect with the LASU-Isheri road.
Alonge Island is hemmed-in on one side by Obadore and on the other side by Ijagemo, Isaja and Ijegun.
Our problem started when the canal was blocked under the bridge at Obadore by CCECC, the Chinese company, when it was constructing the LASU-Isheri road.
As a result of this, water could not freely pass through as in the past before construction work started on the road. The problem is the huge volume of water can no longer pass through the openings left by the Chinese under the bridge. The water simply flows back and makes the level of water in the canal to rise and flood our community every year.
The accessibility we have is a makeshift footbridge from the end of Community road, Obadore. Development of our area has been crippled by the absence of a road connecting the community to LASU-Isheri road. Our children have to walk on the footbridge to get to their schools in Obadore. They regularly fall into the canal each time they mistakenly stepped on a bad point. When the floodwater in the canal rises, it spreads into our community up to knee level and the thighs in some places closest to the edge of the canal. The flooding drives us from our homes.
Living in this place is depressing. People in Alonge community feel cut off by the canal and swamp that goes round the island with a swamp between Alonge and Ijagemo.
During the rainy season, the flooding is so serious that people sometimes have to abandon their homes and move deeper into the area to stay with benevolent neighbours for a day or two, to allow the flood water recede.
Because there is no road leading into the community, you have to pray through the nose build a house in this place. When sand is supplied to a builder, he has to hire labourers to move the sand with discarded cement bags at a cost of between N15000 to N35000 per trip, to the construction site
If government constructs a road and abridge across the canal, it will be easy for us to move sand and gravel to our building sites at a cheaper rate. We are appealing to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to remember us. We are Lagosians and we voted for him. If the government builds the bridge, development and building of residential accommodation in this community will take off. Building a bridge across the canal will greatly help our children to safely get to our homes.
We all suffered to get our PVCs. We are all ardent supporters of the APC and voted for the party during the election. We all went out to queue under the sun on election days to vote for APC. Why are we being neglected? The government should not wait until our children coming back from school drown in the canal before it will build the bridge. We are appealing to Governor Ambode to build the bridge and the road to connect Alonge and Ijagemo to Obadore.
Sometimes, you have to contend with the snakes that crawl onto the top of the footbridge from the canal. Imagine children coming from school and having a snake block their way. Just as the government has lit up Obadore, it should extend the dividend of democracy to people in Alonge, Ijagemo and Isaja.
I shudder every time I walk on the footbridge. I always silently pray we never experience the kind of emergency that would compel people to want to move in mass, in attempt to get out of the community. I just shudder at the number of people that would die if it should happen. That was what caused the large number of deaths recorded during the Ikeja bomb blast when hundreds drowned in the Oke-Afa canal as people surged from Oshodi and Mafoluku into Ajao Estate, trying to cross the canal to get to Oke-Afa, as the bombs were exploding at the cantonment.
The thought of that possibility really worries me everyday. Governor Ambode please send the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure to visit our community and see things for himself. After the visit I believe that our problem will be appreciated. That is why we are appealing again to Governor Ambode to consider our plight.
► Jerome Okogie wrote from Alonge Island, Iba LCDA, Lagos.