Anxiety as Lagos records over 17-hour downpour

•No life lost, properties worth millions destroyed —LASEMA

There were palpable fears among residents in Lagos, on Sunday, as the city witnessed more than 17 hours of rainfall, that almost marred social and economic activities.

The rain, which started as drizzles around 9.00p.m on Saturday, later became a downpour that lasted throughout the night and extended into the afternoon of the next day (Sunday).

Also, Bakare Street, Owoade street and other streets in the flow lane of the canal from Mile 12 area, through Ketu to Alapere were flooded and impassable.

Homes, schools and businesses were flooded. Property were damaged and people were held hostage at their  homes by the flood. Cars were submerged too.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) members, Lagos Metro gathered could not assess their parish as the flood caused them off. They had to worship in the balcony of a flooded shop in the vicinity.

Causes of the flood, Lagos Metro gathered were a flagrant violation of building plans as people built in drainage passages, especially at Owoade. Indiscrimate disposal of refuse into gutters and blockage of the canals at  the Alapere end. Residents warn authorities to act fast to prevent loss of lives, avert building collapse and an outbreak of epidemic.

As of the time of writing this report, it was still drizzling in different parts of the city.

Although no major incident had been recorded as of press time,  the downpour, witnessed all over the metropolis, succeeded in slowing down movements around the town, especially for residents going to places of worship.

For instance, at the Adekunle Fajuyi area of the Government Reservation Area (GRA), very close to the Radio Nigeria Office, in Ikeja, motorists had to take their time to navigate the huge pool of water in the area to avoid getting stuck.

On the popular Agege Motor Road, the ever-busy Ikeja section of the road was divided into two, with a huge pool of water taking a significant part of the road.

Though Ikorodu Road was relatively free, same could not be said of the road facing the University of Lagos Road. The road was becoming almost impassable as of press time, due to flood, thereby causing a huge traffic snarl around the area, especially for motorists going towards the Yaba bridge.

Some residents had, therefore, expressed grave concerns about the downpour, praying that it should not be a repeat of the 2011 incident that resulted in loss of lives and properties.

“I’m very apprehensive about this downpour, it has not shown any sign of abating. It is fast looking like that of year 2011, where many lives and properties were lost.

“I almost lost my two kids in that incident, if not for the intervention of a good Samaritan,” a panic-stricken Jimoh, who lives at Aboru, in Agbado Oke Odo Local Council Development Area of the state, told Lagos Metro.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has allayed the fears of residents over the torrential rainfall witnessed in the state on Sunday, saying  necessary steps had been taken to avert any incidence of flood disaster in the state.

Commissioner for Environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare, gave the assurance in a statement, saying the state government had, in recent times, carried out intensive tour of some flood-prone communities in the state to clear up blocked drainages and canals.

Adejare wondered why any right-thinking person would be dumping refuse on water courses and drainages created for free flow of storm water, saying the numerous campaigns against such practice was for the interest of the residents.

“Canal is a storm water channel for the conveyance of storm runoffs, they are God’s natural protection for holding water during massive flood and it is not a place for anybody to build a house or dump refuse. Those in the habit of doing such must stop henceforth,” Adejare said.

Allaying fears of teeming Lagosians apprehensive of the rain, the commissioner said  indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the gutters had caused a lot of environmental disasters, warning that the government would no longer tolerate the building of illegal structures along channel right of ways in the state.

To this end, he said the government had since begun the demolition of illegal structures and shanties erected on the drains, especially in flood-prone areas.

He, however, urged residents living on wetlands and flood-prone areas to be cautious and careful, urging them to limit their movement if possible and to move to higher ground if need be.

Adejare, who said it was the duty of the government to protect lives and property, however, appealed for the cooperation of all Lagosians in the government’s quest to avert any flood mishap in the state.

Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), reacting to the incident, said besides several properties worth miilons of naira that were damaged by the flooding, no life was lost in the incident.

A statement issued by the agency stated that some streets in Oworoshoki, Ifako, Ikorodu, Lekki axis were seriously affected by the downpour, which started on Saturday at about 8.40 p.m.

The agency also confirmed that no case of building collapse was recorded as a result of the incident.

While ascribing the flood to “blockages of some of the major drainages in the affected areas,” its General Manager, Michael Akindele, however, advised residents to clear their drainages, to allow free flow of water.