At about 2:30p.m on a cool Friday afternoon, Popoola Ayomide stood isolated from a group of crowd packed ahead of him at Oluwakemi Bridge, Ojodu Abiodun, in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.
With a cloud of uncertainty hovering over him and other stranded commuters at the bridge, he slung his school bag across his chest, painstakingly watching the unfolding scenario.
His frail posture was indicative of a student exhausted after the day’s rigorous academic work in school. But that was just an icing on the cake compared to the challenge ahead of him.
As he gazed curiously into the puzzle ahead of him, many thoughts ran through his mind. He has to get home to eat, freshen up and reunite with his family members. But just how that will happen is hard nut to crack for him. Between him and his house is a flooded bridge.
With no sign of any miracle happening, he wore a look of someone who has resigned to fate. He was not alone. Ahead of him was a crowd of people all wearing a hopeless look. Parents were seen clutching their wards dearly. Others held their bags.
This is the only route to their homes. And the only option is to find a way through the huge flooded bridge staring at them in the face. Like Ayomide, they have been trapped by an overflooded bridge connecting them with their respective destinations.
The situation, this reporter gathered, has been on for about two months, without any attention coming from the government.
“Everyone here is going through hardship as you can see. We are suffering and many are already exploiting the situation. We pay N50 to cross this makeshift bridge when going to school and when returning. This water has been increasing for about two months, yet it’s like we’re not existing on the map. Nobody is saying or doing anything. Government should remember us here. They should not forget us here, it’s like we are not existing at the moment,” Ayomide told Sunday Sun.
Ayomide’s case might whip up emotions, but wait till you hear that of Dennis. While stranded commuters like Ayomide at the bridge were confronted only with the challenge of crossing it, that of Dennis is the fear of becoming homeless.
For about two months and still counting, he has been sleeping inside a flooded house with his parents. Their house and others close to a canal were among many homes sacked by flood in the area. It was gathered that the heavy flood was due to opening of dams in neighbouring communities.
“The situation has been like this for over two months now. We sleep inside the house like that, there is nowhere to sleep so we have to manage. Government should help us, I don’t know how they are going to do it, they should just help us out,” Dennis said.
Ayomide and Dennis’s ordeals are snippets of what people are slogging through everyday, in an area seemed to have been totally forgotten.
Welcome to Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State. Theirs are tales of neglect.
Sordid tales of neglect
The spate of neglect in Ifo Local Government Area would attract pity of anyone visiting the place for the first time. The local government, which borders Lagos State, is highly sought after for those who cannot afford the expensive nature of accommodation in the Nigeria’s former capital.
But with the situation of things in the area, many who took such decision are wallowing in regret. The first of the many problems confronting the Local Government Area are bad roads. There are two major roads linking the Local Government to Ojodu Berger, Lagos State. The first of such is through Alagbole axis while the second is through Denro road. However, the two major roads are presently impassable due to their bad shape.
Sunday Sun’s multiple visits to the area showed it lacks good roads causing nightmares to drivers and commuters. The situation, it was gathered, often leads to unnecessary hike in transport fare.
“It’s like I made a terrible decision coming down here to seek for cheap accommodation. What I spend everyday is alarming,” Mrs Juliana, a resident in Akute, lamented.
Also lamenting the bad situation of roads in the area, Mr Oluwole Fadoju, a driver, who plies Obalende-CMS route in Lagos, decried the decrepit nature of all roads in the area.
His words: “If you leave in this area, you will experience what we go through everyday. Mondays are always terrible. Most times, we spend three hours in gridlock on a journey that shouldn’t even take 15 minutes because the roads are really bad. The roads that connect Berger through Alagbole are in a terrible shape. That of Denro-Ishasi is equally terrible. It’s one of those reasons voting is like a waste of time. Of what use is voting when you can’t feel the impact of governance.”
Churches, Mosques becoming desolate
Sunday Sun investigation in the area showed it has become impossible for some Muslim and Christian adherents to worship in their respective places of worship due to heavy flood. At Denro axis of the Local Government Area on Friday, Muslim faithful who had gone to the Ansar Ud Deen Society of Nigeria, Ojodu Branch, Denro Division 4 Mosque were seen stranded outside. The entrance to the mosque, as well as the neighbouring homes were heavily flooded. At far from the mosque lies another desolate church, a Celestial Church of Christ building.
Commenting on the situation, a resident of Denro, Mr Wasiu Salami, told Sunday Sun: “This problem has been on for years. It has always been our major complaint whenever politicians come here to canvass for votes. They have been promising us heaven and earth, but in the long run, we won’t see anything. When the immediate past Governor Amosun was in power, he was briefed about the state of this place, but nothing was done. This new administration has equally been briefed. We’re even expecting them to come and pay us a visit.
This flood has destroyed the property of many people. It’s been over 10 years that we experienced this kind of situation. Look at the Mosque and Church around us, did you see anyone there? They’re becoming desolate becoming no worshipper can go there again.”
From landlords to tenants
When Sunday Sun visited the area on Friday, October 18, many houses have been overtaken by flood. The situation has made those affected to vacate their homes. It was gathered that many landlords have become tenants in the process.
“There are many landlords that have become tenants because of the situation here. If you go to Estate, the situation is worse. Only few of us are left in this street, we are praying it should not get worsen than this, because if that happens, then we will all be forced out of this area.
“Everybody is stranded, we can’t go to work or do anything meaningful. We are pleading with the government to come and do an assessment of the situation. This is the major road linking this border community with Lagos. If this area and that of Alagbole is blocked, then it’s over. Most people who attempted to go out this morning had to come back because of the bad state of the road. There are no other linking roads. People are vacating this area in droves, at least 50 people pack out of this area on daily basis because they have been rendered homeless. Let the government come to our aid,” Mr Salami added.
Also speaking, Mrs Odunola Amodu, a fish seller in Ojodun Abiodun axis of the local government said: “Most people have been vacating their homes since last week due to the bad state of this area. Look at that fence (showing this reporter a house sacked by water), that was once a very beautiful and boisterous house, but it is now desolate. It’s been over two months, but the situation has never gotten to this state. The heavy downfall that almost lasted a week worsened the situation of things. Even when the rain has subsided, the situation still remains the same because we heard some dams were opened recently. They should fix our roads too, if you get to Oluwakemi bridge, it’s something else. The water almost swallowed commuters yesterday because there were neither boats nor makeshift bridges until today that the community is trying to do something. This is the closest area to Berger and should be developed. The canals also should be dugged, this happens every three years.”
Also lamenting the bad state of the road, Mr Lawrence said: “From here to Ajuwon is very bad. From Ajuwon to Alagbole is equally terrible. This area is always like a river whenever it rains which makes it impassable for people.”
But for many abandoned projects in Ifo Local Government Area, residents of the area should be brimming with smiles. However, what ought to make life easier for them have become death traps. At the Akute axis of the area lies a multi-billion-naira fly-over project lying in ruins. The project, it was gathered, was kick-started in 2014 ahead of the 2015 general elections by Governor Ibikunle Amosun. Many residents believed it was a campaign gimmick and it’s pretty difficult not to think in that direction. The lofty project, which was once the cynosure of all eyes is now a nightmare to the residents.
The project has become a dumping site for traders around it, with many seen urinating and defecating in the place during the visit. Beneath it are hawkers and traders who are doing their businesses.
Aside the flyover, the road construction from Berger axis to Alagbole has also been abandoned. The project, like the flyover, has also become a death trap for residents especially whenever it rains.
Speaking about the parlous state of roads and abandoned projects in the area, a traditional ruler, the Alakute of Akute Land, H.R.M Oba Aleeh Akanni Akindele, the spate of abandoned projects in the area has worsened the condition of residents of Akute and its environs.
He said: “We don’t have roads in this area. From Akute to Ajuwon is no longer motorable, that of Sango, Lambe, Ijoko and Denro are also no longer motorable. The second challenge is erosion, all our homes are always flooded anytime it rains because of poor drainages. The erosion is not properly channeled.
“They (government) are only demolishing houses, nothing concrete was done afterwards. Governor Amosun wasn’t unaware of the situation then. The new government has been to this area too during campaigns, so it’s basically not that government does not know this area is bad, it’s a matter of not doing anything about it.”