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FLOOD BRINGS MISERY INTO AMUWO RESIDENTS HOMES

By NBF News

Festac Extension is an estate built during the 1977 Festival of African Culture (tagged FESTAC '77) by federal government. It is located along the Mile 2-Oshodi Expressway.

The estate was formerly under Federal Housing Authority but later handed over to Lagos State Building Investment Corporation (LBIC).

The residents enjoyed a major advantage of the centrality. However, the centrality of the estate and the nearness to Mile 2, which connects any part of Lagos has been demeaned by the ugly experience of flood that has become part of the dreaded side of the life of the residents.

Flood in the area is a perennial problem that ravages residents anytime there is downpour. So, it is a nightmare of sorts for the people living here to remember the rainy season. The problem has reached the peak where the residents have been forced by factors of nature to get more than a fill of the troubles but authorities who should be in a position to rid the area of excess and unwanted water seem not to notice it.

The estate is now abandoned such that residents provide and maintain the available infrastructure. Apart from no clear drainages through which runoff water could flow out, the blocks are built in such a way that does not ease soak-away diffusion.

Mr. Festus Olukoya a resident of the estate said the problem started with the building of Eko Akete. He said the buildings at Eko Akete blocked the tracks through which water could drain into the Durban canal. He noted that apart from the buildings at the Eko Akete axis, most of the buildings in the estate are really uncompleted and have no soakway facilities, resulting in the gutters that overflow their banks spilling dirty water to residents' homes.

Olukoya said that despite the charges collect from residents and house owners LBIC has not taken notice of the ecological problems. He said if there were drainages, the water logging in the estate would have lessened. He noted that the space initially mapped out by the developers as market has been long converted to residential homes, forcing the traders/market women to use any available space in the streets as market.

Mrs. Glory Ikoghode, occupant of Block 37, the problem has reached crisis level. She said that her family got into the estate in 1992. She confessed that a lot of features attracted the family to the estate, but regretted that the attraction that lured them into the estate which includes constant electricity, steady water supply and dryness of the area 15 minus after rains stopped are no longer there.

The experience of having to bail out water from bedrooms each time rain falls is enough to force somebody out of the estate. 'Initially, if I see people leaving around Eko Akete bailing water, I would think it is impossible to reach us. Today, whenever it rains, I will be rushing home to lift some of my belongings to avoid being soaked by water. Of course my bed has been permanently on a hanger,' he said.

On whether, the chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area is aware, she noted that although the flood got worse in the past seven years, the only chairman she can vouch having knowledge of the flood is current one, Hon. Ayodele Adewale. She explained that he came one day and saw how the place was bushy and waterlogged and ordered for the clearing of the bushes thinking that was the problem.

'As far as I am aware, my experience of water settling in the estate started seven years ago. But we started having the flood in our homes in the past three years. Before then we had experienced flash flood that never lasted on the streets. They quickly found their channels and the place became dry again. The moment the place is logged, water would start to seep and cover the rooms. If it were the ones that come from outside, you could prevent it but this one that comes from the ground, you cannot stop. As the flood threatens, we keep rehabilitating the homes to make sure we have upper hand, but as you block or seal one hole through which water seeps in, it creates another. Because of long time of logging, the walls have become so weak and soaked that the plastering and painting have peeled and there is the possibility of the structure giving way in the near future,' she narrated.

Problem of floods in the area has reached the point that whenever the cloud is thick; everyone that has a car starts to relocate it to other places where it will be easier to take it out. Anyone who misses this whether by omission or commission is assured of not taking his car out of the estate that day or the next day. The only route that takes motorists out of the estate always turns into a lake that conceals the potholes and ditches.

Credit to the perennial flood also is a lot of scraps of vehicles that have been swallowed; water entering all the chambers thereby destroying majority of the elements that keep the vehicle in motion. A lot of the residents that live on the ground floors of any of the buildings do not go out while it is raining. This is because apart from the flooded roads, they would be busy throwing water that collected either from the ground or from their doors.

A basketball court has a space where everybody leaving the estate in cars must have to pass through. This court has been serving the residents different purposes ranging from social gatherings and church activities. But once there is rain, the space gets so flooded that residents become forced prisoners in their homes or trapped wherever they found themselves. Because of the nature of the estate, the space was purposely created as parking lot for residents but in view of the flood menace, most residents now park on the expressway for fear of rain.

At least seven vehicles caught up in the flood in the latest rainfalls in Lagos got damaged beyond repair. These vehicles, because of many days of floating on water that is above window level became soaked and submerged that owners sought auction buyers that failed to come. The arena has become a political campaign tool for politicians who each time promise to do this or do that to alleviate the problem for the estate residents to attract their supports and votes. Once after elections, those that won and those that lost retire to their abodes facing other businesses.

The problem of the estate was worsened by the road rehabilitation from the expressway axis of Second Rainbow axis the of the Oshodi-Apapa road Festac via the Apple Junction. Repair of drainage caused by the construction has blocked the waterway through which runoff emptied into the river that connects the Maza Maza bridge.

Mr. Timothy Adekola, chairman of one of the streets in the Estate said the flood has made most of his relatives and friends to stop visiting him. He narrated how one day, his bosom friend who visited Nigeria from overseas and his car developed problems at the mini pond at the Eko Akete axis. He said that it took the intervention of a nearby mechanic to fix the damaged part for the car before it came out of the pond.

'There was this fateful night robbers pursued a man into the pond. The man was caught because water covered the place making it impossible for him to move. He unfortunately got stuck in a deep gully and was caught. Robbery menace around here has been aided by the bad roads and the water logs at the exit of the estate. This has become so disturbing that something drastic needs to be done to reverse the case. Unless something is done, the residents will continuously be under siege of armed robbers,' he said.

Another resident, Mr. Saliu Akinsiku, advised that government should see the problem as something that needs urgent attention. He said that the residents no longer enjoy the benefits that attracted them to the place. 'The open space you see there is supposed to a car park. Sports men and women use it as training pitch also. Of course that is why it is called basketball court but this time once it rains, no use is made of the space. It should not continue like this. We need government intervention,' he said.

Barrister Henry Ikoghode, said that residents several times in the past through community associations contribute to buy sand, granites and other materials to fill the potholes to enable them still have access to their homes and out for work. Apart from all these efforts, the ministry of environment only comes to collect maintenance fees.

At some other times, the residents took their complaints to the federal government to rebuild the pedestrian bridge that was damaged by a truck last November. Eyewitnesses said the bridge was hit by a Julius Berger tipper at 11:15 pm.