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Siege of flood: Agonizing plight of Lagos community

 

WHENEVER the excess waters of Oyan Dam are released, the devastating consequences for Lagos and Ogun residents are diseases, sicknesses, homelessness and death. That was National Daily finding from a visit to the flood ravaged communities along the Ikorodu road, a Lagos State suburb area.

The agonizing picture of these communities is one of sadness and dehumanization caused by a natural disaster of a sort. The surging flood it was observed, have swept into many houses, brought down buildings, shut down schools and hospitals. The fear of demolishing the remaining structures and chasing the dwellers away prevents some of the elderly men and women from speaking their mind.

But the pain and agony was too much for Eighty years old Pa Ovie to endure and he had to voice out his anger . Hear him: “President Goodluck gave us N700million when we were in camp and that is why we voted for him and the governor of Lagos state but what we got instead of the promise was Kirikiri prison. It is now clear that Governor Fashola can't help us so he should leave us to our problem.”

 

The sight of and echoes from this community are far from pleasing: the people look sick and angry, while the helpless parents watch their children bask in the unclean water that has prevented them  from going to school. Thirteen years old Uji lived with her elder brother in a room that is no longer accessible. She said: “We are forced out by the flood and that made us relocate to our shop, but the shop has also been affected by the water and we are now homeless; we have practically moved to the main road and we take shelter in the furniture shop by the road-side; and we can't cook because the water swept away our property, so we hustle to get fast food. We excrete and take our bath outside. For us it is a hard life and pathetic situation. I stay with my elder brother who can no longer walk properly because the water has eaten up his foot and that's the worst part of the devastation.

The flood came with diseases and sicknesses. A friend almost lost his life; we are always itching all over our body and another neighbour of ours almost died. The only school we have for the public is swallowed up by water and the local clinic in this community has become a death trap as we speak,” she lamented.

Another young man who claimed to be a former militant on the amnesty programme  threatened: “Ours is a tale of tragedy and neglect and the only message we have for the government is that what happened in Libya will happen in Nigeria soonest. The children are in  bad health and the mothers suffering. I hang out here simply because I can't go to my house; the water has covered my home.”

National Daily discovered a private school still standing but partly flooded and the principal reacted and complained bitterly: “This flood started since 2007, I learnt it is as a result of the dam built at Ikotun. It is quite unfortunate that you see people dying and a lot of my staff members are no longer staying in the community because water has driven them away, you can see my basket ball court and football pitch is covered by water. And the question remains why did they build the dam at the first place? We don't need it, why must they build the dam, without dam there would be no flood, in Lagos we don't need dam, and it should be channeled to the north. People in Lagos are visitors and shouldn't be driven out of Lagos. Now I want to use this medium to call on the government to please come to the people's aid, we need rapid response. They should please come to our aid; I had to pay N800 to get a bike here this morning which ought not to be.

Shops are closed down by water. I heard that money was given to the governor; and I want the governor to do something,  is the people that voted for them. They got their votes from these people, not from the Victoria Island. The rain affected the school in a great way, a lot of student can't come to school and you can see that the flood has also entered the school premises It is worrisome that people are crying and suffering. The people here are artisans and peasants with large families they are not beast but human, where would they go to?”He queried.

“The government that wants them to leave should give them a low-cost housing alternative, all hands are not equal. This is one of the best schools around, Noodos International Primary School; the other public school is covered by water,” he noted.

Swimming and canoe  have become the only alternative means of transportation. For a community dominated by peasants and artisans it is difficult for the people to change location. Lucky, a young civil servant says it is a clear case of oppression by those in power. “The government simply promises and fails, no commitment to us. All we get is violence and brutality from soldiers, a day is coming when the soldiers will come but no one will run and nothing will happen.

Meanwhile, in the community, it is a case of survive or die as business activities still manage to strive on the waters that have become land for  the embattled residents. From the road side, wood bridges are erected and  to network houses that are mostly half covered by water. Mr. Monday Tohan, the community's native doctor  and bone-setting specialist explained: “The government of Ogun State and Lagos State are benefitting from this business, it has become a business for them, they know anytime they open the dam that they will make millions from it, like last year the president was here, he made a pledge and we know the amount he pledged, ECOWAS, Dangote, Private Corporations, Banks and other social organizations were around to donate to the government as regards the advancement of our cause to have a better life free from the siege of flood and the devastating situation that follows the epidemic. The President gave the two state N2.1billion, which is N700 million per state. Is N700 million not enough to solve the problem if really Gov. Babatunde Fashola wants to solve the problem?”

“And instead of helping the people they arrested the youths that demanded to know what the money was used for, locking them up in the Kirikiri prison for their own rights. These days we don't have people speaking the truth, I will talk without fear. Go to the places where they stay and you will see the difference, they have no bad roads or bad drainage but they have chosen to deny us the same benefits of democracy.

We have made here our home and settlement. Demolishing our homes is not the solution, before this present administration, we have had similar challenges. What the Governor should focus on is development, build seawall; construct drainage and sewage system that for me is good governance not demolishing houses. Last time we went to the camp they created for us, the same thing happened in Ogun State. After the flood they asked us to go back to our houses with five thousand naira and nothing to fall back on. Now that was not the case with Ogun State camp, they were properly settled. And now they are telling us to evacuate and go back to camp, but who will listen to them? Imagine we were just 3,000 people in the camp and they could not share the N700million with us, rather they were packaging five thousand naira for us in envelopes, what will five thousand naira do? As you can see the kids are trapped here and they can't go to school.”

 

 

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