*Seeks Ambode, Speaker’s intervention
By Fadoro Oluwaseyi
Residents of Abule Oki and nine other adjoining communities in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), in old Alimosho, on Thursday, staged a peaceful protest to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s office and state House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja, over an alleged abandoned Aboru, Lower Akinola Canal/Arigbanla-Abbattoire Continuation dredging and concrete lining project.
Apparently worried by the development, they appealed to the state government, through the governor for his immediate intervention in the matter which they claimed had killed about 500 in the communities.
According to them, the completion of the concrete lining of the Arigbanla canal have exposed them to and put them at the mercy of a deluge of flood which at its peak often rises up to nine feet, submerging everything and destroying lives and property.
The residents had in series of petitions to the former governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, stressed the need to; “Save us and our properties from the confluence of fury of the flood in our neighbourhood.”
They said they had continued to suffer environmental degradation as a result of government’s effort to deflood some parts of the state.
According to the communities, “Many more canals have been channeled into the area, leaving Abule Oki, Akinola, Raji Rasaki and adjoining communities more devastated by the flood abatement activities of the government,” a resident said.
The Chairman of the Committee on Canal Dredging of the communities, Alhaji Kamarudeen Bamidele, said Abule Oki, which is the confluence point for all the flood water channeled to the area, is worse hit as the contractor Messrs Dully Dredging and Construction Company have abandoned the work after collecting N1.9 billion out of the N2.7 billion earmarked for the project.
The chairman said residents were not happy that the 12 months tenure project, which was awarded in February 2012 and ought to have been completed since January 2013 had been abandoned, with dire consequences on the people.
Bamidele, a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) retiree, said several lives had been lost, while others lost their means of livelihood due to the perennial flooding as a result of the neglect of the canal dredging.
“Personally, I lost over N14 million in a fish pond investment in 2011, when we experienced the worst devastating flood that necessitated this canal dredging. Several landlords lost their homes to the flood and many tenants relocated because the entire area became submerged. So many houses sunk and several houses were abandoned and were overgrown with weeds as if they were virgin lands.”
According to Superior Evangelist Stephen Oduntan of the Celestial Church of Christ who is also the Vice Chairman of the Canal Dredging Committee, “This area was never prone to flood when I moved into this area in the 70s.”
He said, “We were never troubled by flood. Infact, this same river that is now heavily polluted was where we baptize new converts. Everything changed a little over a decade ago and since then things have never been the same again.”
He said: “Sequel to the flood disaster of 2011, government decided to dredge all canals around the state and Arigbanla was dredged and the concrete lining was done, since then they never experienced flooding in those areas again.
“When they met with us, we were assured that our canal would be dredged and a concrete lining carried out at three different locations. We were told a gang would work from Ahmaddiya Area at Oke-Odo down to Agbelekale, the second gang shall work from Pleasure bus Stop along Abeokuta Expressway to link up with Arigbanla, from where waste water from Abbatoir and other canals have been channeled, into Abule Oki and the third gang would work from Akinola Area towards Command.
“While work started at a slow pace at the Ahmaddiya/Agbelekale axis, nothing was done at the Abule Oki/Akinola end, and this axis, especially Abule Oki is where you have this heavy flood confluence.
“One of the assurances we were given then, was that a concrete median lining would be constructed along this confluence to channel the flood water, but nothing of such has been done.”
The chairman wondered why the contractor would fail to address the dredging and concrete lining of the Aboru canal from Abeokuta Expressway (Arigbanla end), where the flood hit hardest and nothing had been done till date.
“We do not know our fate anymore, we have lived with this neglect for over two years now and that is why we are appealing to the government to come to our aid before the next rainy season,” he said.
Another community leader Mr. Solomon Agboghoroma who have been living in Abule Oki since 1979, said the incidences of flooding was alien to the community until the last decade when government’s activities became more pronounced.
“Now, I spend between N300,000 –N400,000 yearly to reinforce my fence and protect my house from flood, yet, water usually submerge my house every time it rained heavily in the area. I no longer have tenants because the entire ground floor have been taken over by flood,” he said.
He said government should come to the aid of the residents to prevent further grave loss of lives and property.
All attempts to get any response from the supervising engineer, Mr. Ajadi proved abortive as he neither picked his calls nor respond to the text messages sent to his mobile telephone devise.
He said what the communities needed was not palliative measures such as the last carried out sometime in August, but would be looking for seeing steps being taken that would assure a lasting solution and save residents of the perennial flooding that has put their existence in Abule Oki under perpetual threat.
Speaker of the Lagos state House Assembly, Rt. Hon, Mudashiru Obasa, while responding to the protesters through Hon. Lanre Ogunyemi, representing Ojo Constituency II and Bola Yusuff, representing Alimosho Constituency, assured that the matter was already before the house and receiving prompt attention.
Ogunyemi commended them for the peaceful conduct of the protest saying, the investigating committee set up to look into the matter would soon submit it report for further and appropriate action.