- Flooding, mosquitoes give residents of Mile 2 Estate hell
For years, residents of the Festac Extension Estate, Mile 2, in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State have been living in utter distress. And their agony does not seem to have a terminal date.
The people are not happy with the environmental condition of the estate, which they said has exposed them to health hazards. They lamented that, for over 15 years, they have been contending with flood, which has overrun the entire vicinity, exposing them to various health problems. They accused the state and local governments of abandoning them to their fate, as there has been no concrete step to conclusively address the problem over the years, despite their consistent complaints.
Daily Sun’s visit to the basketball quadrangle of the estate confirmed the residents’ allegations. The entire neighbourhood was indeed an eyesore. From the quadrangle to the Alaba Express part of the estate, there was a massive stretch of stagnant water, covered with water hyacinth, green algae and hundreds of thousands of mosquito larvae. In fact, some children were even seen throwing hooks into the stagnant water in a bid to catch some fish. When asked why they were fishing in the brackish water, they responded innocently: “We always catch fish here.”
One major problem that the government’s alleged apathetic attitude had caused the residents is their unending battle with mosquitoes. Though still bothered by flooding, which sometimes sacks residents from their homes, the major headache of most residents now is the constant harassment from mosquitoes. This has brought untold hardship to the people, as they are often in and out of hospital to get treatment for either malaria or typhoid.
The battle with mosquitoes was experienced firsthand by our reporter who recently visited the neighbourhood one evening. The number of mosquitoes that swooped on him forced him to quickly leave the estate and reschedule his visit for the following morning.
A barber in the estate, who identified himself as Chike, said of the mosquitoes: “Our battle with mosquitoes is not something I can describe here. They are in millions. Just as the bees move, that is how they move once it is 6pm.
“Mosquitoes are at constant war with us and they seem to be winning the war because malaria is a common sickness among us here. The kinds of mosquitoes that breed in this environment defy
even the strongest mosquito nets. They must find a way of penetrating into your apartment. Nobody sleeps with both eyes closed because of mosquitoes.
“Here, the fear of mosquitoes is the beginning of wisdom. As other people are busy guarding their houses against criminal elements, we are devising every creative means to ward off mosquitoes. In fact, we wage war against mosquitoes in this estate and the war is about to consume us, except government urgently comes to our aid.”
Chike also came hard on the residents. He said: “The point is that residents don’t even want to help themselves. They are not helping matters. If government does not want to help us, must we keep quiet and die? Can’t we help ourselves? We can be contributing little by little and before you know it, we would have gathered enough money that can do something about this situation. But nobody is willing to make a move. Everybody is waiting for government, but the government doesn’t care. The children can’t go to school when it rains and even when they manage to go to school, they walk through the water with all the attendant dangers.”
Another resident, Joseph Chukwuma, who has lived in the estate for over 30 years attributed the problem to blocked drains in the estate. He said the failure of government to link the major gutter in front of the Mega Chicken Plaza at the Apple Junction to the canal is the cause of the problem.
His words: “The canal is the major source of drainage in this area, stretching up to the Second Rainbow Bus Stop along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway. Once the drainage in this estate is linked, the problem would be over. That is just the major problem and we have been trying to get in touch with the governor. However, the governor has been sending people to clear the weeds but the water remains and it is causing a lot of havoc for the residents.”
On the problem of mosquitoes, he also said: “You can see that I just changed my mosquito net this morning. We have been doing that for many years because, if you fail to do so, mosquitoes will feast on you and your family and you know the result.”
He said the local government authorities cleared the weeds recently but the stagnant water still remains. “And that is our major concern, because that is what breeds the mosquitoes in their thousands.”
He continued: “In those days, the flood used to settle at the open, undeveloped private plots of land within the estate. But since the owners developed those places, the water has been pushed to the major roads. And that is what is affecting us now.”
He also recounted the experiences of residents, especially when it rains. He said: “When it rains, water enters most of the blocks downstairs and you know what that means. Property would be destroyed
in the process. Sometimes, residents are sacked from their apartments, and they are forced to take refuge elsewhere until the water recedes. It is such a painful and ugly experience that people are exposed to here year in year out for the past 15 years. For those who manage to stay indoors as it rains, they don’t sleep. They must keep vigil to ensure that their apartment is not overrun by the surging water. They keep scooping the water as it surges inside, until the rain stops and the surge recedes.
“The problem has been with us for over 15 years. It started gradually before it deteriorated to this level where people now become prisoners in their home every time it rains. Before now, you could go out of your house 15 minutes after every rain, no matter how heavy. But today, after every rain, nobody goes out till after some hours, except you want to swim through the water. And putting your legs inside the water is a risky venture, as you are exposed to all kinds of infections as well as dangerous amphibious animals, snakes and scorpions.”
Another worried resident, Cletus Badmus, described the situation as the poorest thing that can happen to any environment: “The experience is entirely bad. Whatever anybody or government and its agencies need to do to clear this mess will be appreciated by the community. I am part of this community and I can tell you that this situation is very bad for our health and for the environment. The government is talking about environmental sustainability and I don’t think this is part of it.”
On the health implications, he said: “There are so many dumps here. Sicknesses such as malaria, typhoid, filariasis, influenza and others are attacking residents every minute of the day. I met the situation here when I came to the estate, and I hear it has been like this for ages, and that is very bad. So, if government or any NGO can come in to review this place and collaborate with the community, it will be good for the residents and it would have solved a whole lot of trouble.”
He noted that there might other negative implications of the environmental situation within the estate that might not be known until a proper environmental impact assessment was done by experts.
“This is not good as it affects the whole environment and residents. Government must do something urgently,” he submitted.