By JOSFYN UBA
THE residents of Peace Home Valley Estate, Oke Afa, Isolo in Ejigbo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, are uneasy and scared.
They are holding their breath over the looming flood that will once again sack them from their homes.
The reason they are troubled is the grim reports grim reports that Lagos would witness torrential rainfall this year. The unease of the residents is made worse by the realization that extreme floods lead to mudslide, increase health risks and in most cases death. For residents of Esther Ibekwe, Azombe, Omololu Fatumbi, Sam Chuks, Vineyard and Ase streets at Peace Home Valley Estate, it has been a continuous battle with the challenge of perennial flooding from places like Jakande Low Cost Housing Estate, Ejigbo, Bucknor and other adjoining areas, as flood water from these areas empty into the community.
A tour of the community by Sunday Sun reporter revealed that the heavy flood from about four CDAs pour into the Peace Home Valley Estate, thereby making life unbearable for the residents. Most often, houses are submerged and people have had to abandon their houses at various times until the flood level receded to tolerable level. The roads leading to various streets are completely inaccessible such that to navigate through, the residents are compelled to wear rain boots to wade through the knee-high stagnant pools that remain after the level of the water flood would have gone down to some extent. Expectedly, economic activities and movements are hampered.
During the last rainy season, Sunday Sun learnt, the problem was so serious that in some homes, the flood caused havoc leading to loss of household properties and other valuables.
In the quest for relief from the impending disaster, the embattled community wrote several letters to the relevant authorities but all to no avail. The chairman of the community development association, CDA, Mr Omololu Fatumbi, told our reporter that before the problem got to the present stage, the Lagos State Ministry of Environment had raised their hope of alleviating the problem, when it brought in a swamp burger, which started the construction of an earth channel from the Bucknor bridge. However, the proposed route of the channel was said to have contravened town-planning regulations. It became imperative to realign the map. This promptly stalled the project with the result that the proposed earth channel was not dug till date, neither has there been any effort from the relevant agency again.
According to Fatumbi, the issue at hand is not new to the government. It is an ongoing thing but since the project stopped, the menace caused by flooding has got worse as the earth channel that was not dug was supposed to collect water from the four different CDAs. The implication is that residents in Peace Valley Estate are now under pressure such that even when rain falls briefly, the flood level is unimaginable
Chairman of the CDA’s committee on drainage, flooding and development, Sir Ikechukwu Ezeonyeka, who spoke with Sunday Sun, recalled that the committee had written many letters to both the local and state governments, acquainting them with the need for a permanent concrete canal to be constructed, which would serve as exit channel for all the flooded areas in all the CDAs affected by the flood since the only route that takes it to the primary canal is through Esther Ibekwe street, which is very narrow. All efforts and dialogue at the local government level didn’t yield any positive result.
Determined to find a lasting solution to their dilemma, the residents took their case to the Lagos State government. Ezeonyeka revealed that the authorities had put a plan in place which includes a map known as the secondary earth channel which is meant to connect Oke Afa and Bucknor bridge down to the primary canal at Oke Afa canal. However, this has not been achieved because the earth channel has not been developed; hence the problem has persisted.
He stated that following their save-our-souls appeal to the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Alausa, the ministry sent officials to carry out a survey of the canal route as well as identifying and marking possible structures causing blockages with a view to finding lasting solution to the perennial problem.
Sunday Sun reporter gathered that given that the survey had been done and somes structures identified/marked as major obstructions to the construction of the canal, the residents saw this as evidence of the government’s resolve that the affected structures would be demolished to pave way for the successful implementation of the project. Members of the community prefer having some structures demolished to the unpalatable alternative of living in uncertainty and fear of the possible collapse of properties as a result of the impending disaster.
A resident and secretary of the drainage and development committee of the CDA, Mr John Ayalogu, gave further insight into the great burden the people have borne for about four years. He said: “We have been on a straight run as regards the issue of flooding and development in this axis. People are barely holding unto strands. People are dying. The fear of epidemic is just by our doors. Here, people run for fear of impending disaster whenever it drizzles. We are still waiting for further action by the government after determining the contraventions. We hope the project will continue. We are appealing to the government to come and assist us to solve this critical problem.”
Also lamenting the menace of the terrible flooding that regularly occurs in the estate, another resident, Mrs Ifeoma Mozie, told Sunday Sun reporter: “Many times, my house has come under intense pressure on account of this disaster. When it rains, I would pump water out of my compound with the aid of a pumping machine for days on end to avert my entire family and household being swept off by the heavy flood. I am pleading with the Lagos State government to come to our aid at the Peace Valley Estate. Our kids are at risk of being swept off by the flood when they go to school. To compound the situation, economic activities have practically come to a halt because of this problem,” She lamented.