In the wee hour of the day, precisely 2:03 am, four-year old Azizat had huddled with her parents. The midnight rainfall was simply brutal, shearing off rooftops and quacking the foundation of houses. While it was apparent that the rain that had formed frightening flood could submerge them in their humble bungalow, little Azizat and her parents teamed up in racy escape. But in the process, Azizat suddenly missed a step and she fell. Before her horrified mum and dad could come to her rescue, she had been swept away by rampaging flood. This incident, which occurred at Fashola Street, Papa Ashafa area of Orile-Agege, Lagos, has again brought on, concerns that the Lagos megalopolis stands endangered, as its history of annual flooding with devastating effects could one day turn catastrophic.
More to the tale of woe, reports said Azizat’s tragedy came barely 24 hours after two kids, a boy and a girl, died when mudslide, precipitated bistate vmm rains, pulled down their house. This occurred at 46, Gafari Balogun Street, Ogudu area of Lagos. Still to the havoc wrecked by the Lagos flooding, a pregnant woman and two other women were said to have been rescued from a collapsed building at Ashade area of Agege, two weeks ago. Flipping through the profile of ongoing rainy season causing serious flooding in Lagos, areas mostly devastated, according to investigations, are: Egbeda, Surulere, Ketu, Iyana-Oworonshoki, Lekki, Ajah Expressway, Ikorodu, Ojota, Ikeja, Aboru, Iyana-Ipaja and Command Area. Also, Ogun State communities on the Lagos border, such as Sango, Ota, and Agbara, were not spaced. Reacting, the South-West Public Relations Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said his agency and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) had mobilised their teams for recovery operations. He urged that people should call the attention of the emergency and security agencies once there is serious flooding. He graphically lamented the four-year old girl’s tragedy, saying, “Azizat was living with her parents located at Number 38, Fashola Street, Papa Ashafa, Orile-Agege. Their house was overtaken by floodwater and in an attempt to relocate to a higher ground with other residents, she missed her step into a drainage that was covered with flood and she was swept away. “We are making efforts to recover her body as no stone would be left unturned in the recovery of Azizat’s body.”
Farinloye also corroborated reports that four buildings collapsed while three women, among them a pregnant woman, were rescued, at Ashade Quarters area of Agege. “The occupants of the house have been advised to evacuate the building for the safety of their lives, as the downpour has weakened it. The occupants have expressed readiness for evacuation. “On this note, the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, has appealed to parents and guardians to pay special attention to their children and wards against playing in the rain or flowing water during the rainy period .“She also enjoined parents that in the process of relocation to higher ground, the children and women must be protected and safeguarded in emergency situations. “Motorists are also implored to take extra caution while driving in the rain, especially when there is flooding. They are advised to leave their vehicles and stay on upper ground and not under trees or temporary sheds. “We also call on nursing mothers to protect their babies against exposure to cold that can lead to children’s pneumonia,” Farinloye counselled. A resident of Lawanson, Surulere, Mr. Benedict Jude, recalled that everywhere was absolutely flooded, causing serious gridlock in the metropolis. A Lagos daily, New Telegraph, quoted Jude as saying. “My uncle’s house was also flooded, including the dogs’ shelter, which we have never witnessed before. But I want to implore the state government to work on the drainage in the state.” Residents had hectic days and nights in the flood-prone areas, trying to salvage personal effects or struggling to keep alive. It was also observed that the flooding exacerbated the gridlock situation in the Lagos traffic, resulting in exorbitant transport fares from ‘excited’ commercial drivers. In the process, many commuters trekked long distances, sometimes waddling their way through the puddles.
Alhaja Serifat Anifowoshe, a trader in her 50s, said it took her four hours, trekking from her shop at the Computer Village, Ikeja, to home in Agege. “Can you imagine a woman of my age trekking that long distance inside the rains? I believe there is still a lot of work for the Lagos State Government to do,” she said. But reacting, the Lagos State Government lamented the havocs wreaked by the floor but allayed public fears that the ancient city could someday be swept away. The Public Affairs Officer of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Adekunle Adeshina, said what was experienced on the roads were flash floods which would disappear after sometimes. He said the geographical location of Lagos State, as a coastal city, was responsible for occasional flooding. According to him, the ministry had earlier deployed its engineers to clear canals and drainages for easy flow of the floodwater. Patently worried by the situation too, the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, recently threatened to demolish buildings obstructing government’s Right of Way at Lekki in Eti-Osa Local Government Area. Sanwo-Olu said that houses built on the RoW and obstructions on the alignment of the Lekki Regional Road were the major causes of flooding around Lekki axis. But an expert, Chief Ede Dafinone. does not believe in Adeshina’s explanation that there should be no cause for alarm over the annual Lagos flood. He said, “As sea levels rise due to global warming, the city is increasingly at risk.”
Dafinone, who is president of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), also warns “if nothing is done, Lagos will be submerged by 2050.” The environmentalist lamented that in a bid to be among the league of global cities, administrators of Lagos were hungry for ultra-modern urban development to befit the commercial nerve-centre’s newly acquired mega city status, thus gorging out natural deposits that could have checked the floods. Dafinone similarly berated the poor waste disposable culture of most Lagosians, who relish in dumping waste products, especially water plastic containers and sachets that are not degradable, in the canals. He said this would naturally impede the free flow of water, thus leading to flooding. Three months ago, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) had warned of the 2020 rainfall, advising the Lagos State Government and residents to prepare for likely consequences of 240-270 days’ rain to begin on March 19 and end on November 22. Almost 27 states of the federation were asked to prepare for flood this year. According to the rainfall prediction by the NIMET for Lagos in 2020, Ikeja is expected to have about 1,526 millimetres’, Badagry, 1,759 millimetres’; Lagos Island (1,714), Ikorodu (1,690) and Epe (1,730). Lagos, experts contend, is on the trajectory of the moisture-laden tropical maritime air mass, which brings a lot of precipitation in its wake. And as recently reported by CCN cable TV network, Lagos’ “geography makes (the city) prone to flooding, and the coastline has already been eroding.”