•How blocked canals aid flooding of Lagos roads
Millions of Lagos residents on Monday night had a foretaste of what might be lying ahead for them in the coming weeks and months.
Torrential showers pounded many parts of the state on Monday, leaving many roads flooded. For more than four hours, movement on the mainland and the Island became hellish due to the flooded roads. Many commuters were stranded, as commercial bus operators stayed off the roads.
Major and inner roads were also affected. The downpour caused gridlocks in many parts of the city, forcing commuters to trek long distances. Some motorists simply parked their vehicles to allow the flood recede before they continued their journey. Many residents who left their workplaces on Monday evening arrived their homes as late as 1am.
One of the major roads affected by floods was the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, between Cele and Ilasa Bus Stops. On the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, the situation was also pathetic, as the traffic snarl stretched from Ojodu-Berger towards the Ogudu axis. Some parts of Ikorodu Road as well as Gbagada and Iyana-Oworonshoki areas were not spared. Many portions on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway suffered severe setbacks, as the potholes dotting the road were completely covered by the flood, making it impossible for motorists to achieve a smooth ride.
Reports from various parts of the metropolis showed that major roads in Alimosho Local Government Area, particularly Meiran, Agege Motor Road (streets linking Capitol Road and Pen Cinema), parts of Ikeja and Ogba were also flooded. Parts of Surulere, Iganmu, Orile and Ajegunle were taken over by the floods for hours.
Movement was also disrupted in many parts of the Victoria Island and Lagos Island. Many adjoining streets adjoining Adeola Odeku and Ahmadu Bello Way were flooded. Vehicular movement came to a standstill for more than three hours and the traffic stretched from the former Bar Beach to CMS Bus Stop. It forced many drivers to manoeuvre through alternative routes, which were also overwhelmed by traffic.
It was gathered that blocked canals and drainage systems aided the flooding in most areas of the metropolis. Although there have been several campaigns against such unhealthy practices, dumping of refuse in gutters and canals has continued unabated. The drainage in many areas, including Ikeja and Egbeda, are more often than not blocked, causing floodwater to spill to the main roads.
While some concerned citizens entirely blamed residents for the blockage and lamented its attendant consequences, others shifted the blame to government. Those tasking government to do the needful believe that it is the authorities’ responsibility to clamp down on those discarding waste at unauthorised places and to punish them accordingly. They argue that, if government cannot not punish offenders, it must put measures in place to always clear the mess, especially from the gutters.
Indeed, it is unarguable that indiscriminate dumping of refuse in gutters and building illegal structures along water channels in the state have always been responsible for a lot of environmental disasters.
As the rainy season begins, residents are again urging the state government to take necessary steps to avert a major flood disaster in Lagos.
A teacher in Lagos, Mr. Bernard Oluwaseun, said: “It baffles me that any right-thinking person would be dumping refuse in watercourses and drainages created for free flow of storm water. We complain a lot that governments are not discharging their duties but we have also been contributing to many of our problems.
“A canal is a storm water channel for easy flow of storm runoffs. This is somehow God’s natural protection for holding water during massive flooding, and it is not a place for anybody to build a house or dump household refuse. Except we change our ways, we will continue to experience the same problem every rainy season.”
However, Okey Ugochukwu argued: “I strongly believe that the government must accept responsibility for this recurrent flooding in Lagos. Government has the power to make and enforce law, as well as to prosecute offenders. Those throwing garbage in the gutters are doing so because they are not challenged. Once they are arrested and sanctioned, maybe jailed, it will serve as a deterrent to others.”
A journalist with a national daily who lives in the Badagry area, lamented that the people plying his route were in for perilous times as the rainy season commences.
“This is the first major rain we have experienced this year and most parts of the city were brought to their knees. We desperately need palliatives on the Lagos-Badagry Road. From Iyana-Iba Bus Stop to Oko-Afo is a total mess. Sometimes, I spend four hours on the road going to and returning from my office. This is a journey that should take less than an hour. A lot of man-hours are lost on the route daily.
“Though it is a federal road, we are pleading with the state government and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to fix the failed spots even as the reconstruction of the international road continues. We have been suffering the problem for more than five years but it has got worse in recent times,” he said.
Many commuters who took cover at the Iyana-Oworonshoki Bus Stop during the rain were drenched. The shelter at the bus stop was overcrowded leaving most of the people in the open and at the mercy of the rain.
One of the stranded passengers at the bus stop said: “I am still going to Mowe in Ogun State, and this is already 9.30pm. I am hiding here because l don’t want the rain to spoil my Android phone. But I cannot blame God for the rain; it is because many things are not done right in Nigeria that we are suffering.”
Commercial drivers feasted on the opportunity to hike transport fares. Most of them charged more than double the normal fare.