By Christopher Oji
Danger looms as thousands of houses in Ilo Boundary Ajegunle community in Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Lagos State, might soon be submerged by torrents of water, except drastic measures are taken by the government to avert disaster.
The canals and link bridge in the community need urgent intervention. As the rainy season beckons, the residents have raised the alarm that their lives are no longer safe. There is panic in the area that over 100,000 residents might become homeless in no distant time.
The socio-economic survival of the people is nose-diving. Lives are being threatened now and then.
Without exaggeration, the community, which shares boundary with Ogun State at the tollgate area of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, is sitting on a time bomb.
When Daily Sun visited the area, it was gathered that the few days’ rainfall in the last one week has already dealt the community and its environs devastating blows. The drainage canals and the link bridge separating the two states need quick repairs.
It was also learnt that, during a downpour recently, three schoolchildren returning from school were swept into the canal in Ilo Boundary. Residents said meat sellers who saw the children falling into the drainage rescued the pupils from death.
Uncomfortable with the worsening state of the canal and link bridge, and to avert impending calamity, the residents have called on government to urgently come to their aid and repair the canal and link bridge.
Speaking on the rescue of the schoolchildren, Mr. Suraju Ojikuto, the chairman of the abattoir in Ilo Boundary, Ajegunle, said: “The situation of the canal and link bridge is very worrisome. There was a time it rained heavily during the day and schoolchildren were caught up in it. There were three children going home and the canal wall collapsed and they were swept away. Fortunately, some of our meat sellers saw what happened and they quickly jumped into the floodwater and rescued the children and took them home. Vehicles cannot ply the roads near the canal, and the link bridge separating the two states is being washed away and will easily collapse when there is heavy rain.”
Similarly, on behalf of residents, the chairman of the Community Development Association in Ilo, Pastor Jeremiah Omomogbe, said officials from the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and members of the House of Assembly in Ogun State have visited the area to assess the extent of damage to the bridge and canal, but nothing has come out of the visits.
He said: “We have over 100,000 residents and the canal is going from bad to worse. We have written letters to the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and they have been here to assess it. They drew a plan on paper that they would soon start work but, since the last administration in Lagos left office, we are yet to see the government implement the plan. Anytime it rains, the canal gives way and our community suffers flooding. Our lives are not safe, as well as motorists plying the road daily. As I speak, any heavy rain soon will collapse the bridge and the canal.”
Further investigation showed that a better part of Folashade Tinubu Market at the Ojokoro end of the bridge has already been consumed by erosion, which has resulted in many traders relocating from the market for fear of being swept away.
The leader of the Folashade Tinubu Market in Ilo Oja, Chief Bose Ibrahim, said: “This market was given to the traders by Folashade Tinubu. She bought five plots of land and gave it out for market, but flood from the dredging of the canal is washing away the market. More than half of the market land has been affected and the traders are relocating.
“The problem did not start yesterday and we have been crying to the government to help us out. It is a very bad situation and if any heavy rain falls, the bridge and canal, which are already collapsing, will give way completely. We were over one hundred traders but due to the flooding more than half of our traders have moved out of the market.
“On our part, we have made a lot of efforts to sand-fill the market. There was a time we constantly loaded five lorries of sand daily to stop the flooding, but this and other measures have not stopped the flood from destroying the market.
“We have involved the authorities and they promised to repair the canal and bridge, but for more than four years, since they dredged the canal, nothing has been done. Our fear is that, since we are entering the rainy season, the bridge and surrounding canal will collapse and lead to loss of life and property. Our businesses are being affected badly as traders who usually bring goods to us from other states have stopped coming. We are appealing to government to repair the bridge and the canal urgently.”
A businessman in the community, Mr. Raji Lamidi, said businesses close to the canal and the bridge were at risk of shutting down, as he urged the Lagos State government to act fast to protect the people’s means of livelihood.
He said: “It is sad that the government is not seeing the impending danger. The canal’s walls have already collapsed and the bridge is wearing out and would collapse too, if measures are nor taken immediately to fix the problem. This link bridge and the canal are very important to the economy of both Lagos and Ogun states and the country at large. There is a lot of vehicular movement of goods worth billions of naira, and people going in and out of the two states every day, and this could come to an end when we properly enter the rainy season.”