• Ilorin residents count losses aftermath of flooding
Dejected looks and tales of woes permeated some communities in Ilorin, Kwara State, as a result of the huge flood that accompanied a late night downpour. Daily Sun visited some affected areas.
Around 9:20pm penultimate Saturday night, the atmosphere was relatively calm and pleasant in some parts of the city due to unusual cool breeze blowing from different directions. As residents were relishing what was considered to be a pleasant moment after a scorching sun that dominated the space during the day, the sky suddenly became cloudy signposting an impending rain.
When it became apparent that it would rain, some residents in their usual characteristic manner, fetched big bowls, buckets and pots and placed them appropriately in anticipation of the natural water. However, the intermittent sounds descending from the cloudy sky gave a somber warning of what was imminent. At about 10pm, the rain although somewhat light came and some minutes later, it became heavy and water poured profusely from the sky.
As the rainfall became heavier, tension was heightened among residents of some areas especially around riverbed or near riverbank. Those who fell victims of flood disaster in the past because of the location of their residential houses around water channel also became frightened awaiting what would befall them this time around. As the rainfall became heavy, the water channels around also witnessed upsurge in the volume of water in them and they became overflowed.
One of the communities ravaged by the flood was Idi-Igba Were/Harmony Estate Road, leaving most of the residential houses, shops and cars flooded with attendant destruction. Apart from the fact that some houses were submerged, others had their fences pulled down.
Several cars were either flooded or got stuck on the road owing to the volume of water. The asphalt overlay on the road was also washed away by the flood. The asphalt overlay on a portion of the road from Akerebiata, was completely removed by the heavy flood, and consequently precipitated traffic gridlock.
Victims of the disaster could not hide their displeasure over the incident and blamed it on the location of a new petrol station in the area. They alleged that the siting of the station impeded free flow of water on the channel constructed by the government to tackle the perennial flooding in the community.
Some aggrieved youths threatened to demolish the station but for swift intervention of leaders in the community, who calmed the frayed nerves. The youths saw the location of the station as endangering their lives while agitation seeking demolition of the station had not been heeded.
A member of the State Assembly representing Ilorin East Constituency, Mrs. Aishat Bodurin Ibrahim, who was on the spot assessment to the flooded area, attributed the incident to haphazard location of a new petrol station in the area. She said the disaster would have been averted if the station were not located on the water channel, pointing out that it has become a nuisance to the community.
The lawmaker told Daily Sun that members of the community on the other side of the road faced the consequences of the poor building of the station. She urged relevant government agencies to see how the filling station could be removed to prevent recurrence.
Ibrahim stated that the government had done a lot by constructing the water channel in the bid to nip incessant flood disaster in the bud. She vowed to table the matter on the floor of the House due to the impact of the disaster on the wellbeing of the people:
“This place (Idi-Igba Were/Harmony Road) is part of constituency where I am representing. This problem, there is a canal that passed in between the road and the buildings that are here, and government has done a lot by constructing the canal so that flood would not be affecting the houses in between and to allow free flow of water.
“And there is a construction of a filling station. What I cannot imagine is that as large as the canal is, how the Town Planning Development Authority can approve the construction of a filling station on top of that canal.
“So, the construction of the filling station has disrupted the free flow of water because of the narrow passage of water under the filling station. The community said last year they experienced similar problem. It affected so many houses, because the water snaked to so many houses around this place.
“What I saw here was devastating. A lot of people have lost their properties. Many things had been damaged in the affected houses. The asphalt on the road, which the government constructed for the comfort and convenience of the people of this area and to relieve traffic around Sango, Akerebiata, has been removed. This caused a lot of havoc in this area.
“I am now pleading to the state government to look into demolition of the filling station to allow comfort and convenience of the people of this community so that they would not be losing their property every year.”
A resident, Abdulrahman Tunde Kannike, alleged that the water channel under the filling station was conscripted, which made it difficult for the flood waters to flow without impediment. He said there was a recommendation in the past for the demolition of the petrol station.
He disclosed that about 30 cars were lost while several houses were also affected. He urged government to act on the development, warning that the community would not allow owner of the petrol station to hold people to ransom:
“When the rain started late that night, the volume was high. Since five years ago, we have been having this recurring problem. What is always overflowing the canal at the petrol station specifically due shoddy work done. They conscripted the canal under the station for their own selfish end.
“I can remember in the past, there were recommendations by the contractor that handled the water channel project. There were letters too from Idi-Igba Were community presented to the State Ministry of Works and Transport. It was recommended that the station and the canal should be demolished at that time to enhance free flow of water at the location of the station.
Within the community, we lost about choice 30 cars that the brain boxes and other things were overflowed. No less than 100 units of houses were flooded. Our properties and everything were destroyed.
“Since this incident, people have been trying to damage the petrol station. It was due to the chairman and executive of the community that restricted them. We cannot safeguard the petrol station. Anytime the rain damages our property, the petrol station will have to go.
“We are just urging the state government to act because this is a major road. The asphalt that was laid on the road has been cast away. There is nothing we can do. We are supposed to start fasting today (Saturday), since the rain started we are just logging water out of our households.
“We are just pleading with the state government and the state House of Assembly to do something. A single individual cannot hold the whole community to ransom.”
The chairman, Idi-Igba Were Community, Alhaji Fatai Gatta, who was also affected by the disaster, attributed the flood to the location of the filling station. He said members of the community were unhappy with the way the station had remained on the spot without critical action taken on it.
Other areas ravaged by flood disaster were Aduralere, Amilegbe and Mubo streets where several houses and other properties were damaged.