Sanwo-Olu: Confronting flooding frontally

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Sanwo-Olu: Confronting flooding frontally

By Sola Ojewusi

Like many other Lagosians, when the Lekki axis of Lagos State was flooded as a result of the torrential rains, I was eager to ask for the head of Governor Sanwo-Olu on a platter.

However, spiralling events at the dawn of 2021 are beginning to call for caution, reminding us all that the conundrum is not peculiar to Lagos. Several European coastal line countries are struggling to overcome catastrophic effects of flooding in horrendous scales. Evidently, flooding is a global challenge and the struggle against this nature-versus-man predicament requires concerted and continuous efforts.

In concrete terms, recent reports have it that several river basins across Europe such as Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are having turbulent time coping with the unsavoury flood-triggered situation. In most cases, human lives and properties were uncontrollably lost. Wikipedia puts the record of lives lost between July and August at 230.

Also across Spain, there were spates of flooding for days. On August 29, precisely, parts of the Province of Castellón, Valencia experienced damaging flash floods which swept through Burunchel and nearby areas in Jaén Province, Andalusia. Consequently, cars were wrecked; houses were flooded; roads and rails were buried in mud and debris, thereby affecting train services.

On September 2, similar scenario was reported that residents of Manhattan and Alcanar, Brooklyn and New Jersey woke up the day before to find their subway lines and streets flooded in an ugly manner, leading to loss of lives. Just as properties were lost, businesses went comatose.

Other countries like The United Kingdom, the U.S, Turkey, China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan are partly having their own shares of the handicapping situation.

The above are not just chronicles of wrecks in advanced countries. They substantially hint that flooding is a global problem which every government is making deliberate attempt to arrest.

Just as the highly-developed world battles with this cosmic threat, Lagos State Government is expectedly taking tireless steps to discourage some of her citizens from contributing to the problem at hand. One of such is noticed in the public sensitization by Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) on the negative outcome of wrongful waste disposal. This campaign is a step in the right direction as part of the promise of an inclusive government where the opinion of the people matters in governance. The move also creates an ample opportunity for necessary feedbacks which will drastically assist the state government as it battles headlong the hydra-headed flood ordeal.

As an empathetic, development-minded leader, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is undoubtedly building on the legacy of sterling efforts towards the taming of flooding in the state. There is presently a state-wide overhauling of the drainage system. Checks at the Office of Drainage Services showed that it has begun thorough routine maintenance and cleaning up of blocked channels and canals for unfettered flow of water.

Read Also: Four die, 6 vehicles swept off in Abuja flood

Beginning with the channels around Omole/Jubilee Agiliti areas, the Muri International Channel, the System 1 channel which consist of Odo Iya Alaro around Ojota linking up to the Lagoon; the Elere Collector Drain, Agege, Idimu Road Collector Drain, Jimoh/Victoria/Shasha Road Collector Drain, Gudugba Collector Drain, Agege Motor Road, around the Mushin environs, and Kolawole Sebili/Falana Collector Drain, Lagos is massively opening these channels up.

In addition, major channels that have also received attention include Durosinmi Etti Channel, Admiralty, Lekki, System 4 Channel (Tejuosho to Western Avenue), Fola Osibo Channel, Point Road-Liverpool Collector Drain, Apapa, Simpson Ebute Elefun Collector Drain, Ojo Oniyun Collector Drain, Ojo-Oniyun and Signal Barracks Channel in Badagry.

Oke Ijeun Channel, Ojo, Abiodun Sadiku Collector Drain, Old Akute Road Collector Drain, Ikeja Roundabout/Awolowo Way Collector Drain, Ikeja, Agege Motor Road collector (Ikeja section) and Oworonshoki and Jemtok/Kinoshi Collector Drain and Ago Palace Way, Isolo are currently being cleared by relevant agencies of government.

Other drain channels being cleaned are Olusoji/Rashidi Akotun/Odugunwa Collector Drain in Bariga from the Shomolu division, NTA Agric Collector Drain in Ojo,  Aguda Ikate Collector Drain in Surulere division, Ladilak/Pelewura/Randle/Burma Collector Drain in the Lagos division and Norman Williams Collector Drain in Eti Osa division.

But then, the question would be asked: If the Lagos authorities are doing so much, why does the flood persist? Is it an indication that the government has been overwhelmed by an intractable problem? The answer is – no, considering how the hardworking governor confronted squarely the world-dreaded Covid-19 pandemic and daily solves problems of unimaginable proportions. As governance needs collaborative efforts, citizens of Lagos State must ensure that Sanwo-Olu receives adequate support and cooperation.

One thing is for government to do its best from limited resources and in the face of contending responsibilities; another is for the citizenry not to compound its problem with untoward conducts. No matter what the government does, if the people keep dumping refuse in drainage or sewage systems, preventing a free flow of water along the channels, disasters like this would be inevitable. If there is incessant pollution from human activities, the resultant rising sea levels would not but push chronic floods higher than land currently home to 24 million people. The onus is on the people to be more responsible in their attitude and behaviour to things that can seriously affect the environment negatively and lead to unmitigated disasters.

Lagos State House of Assembly must not also relent from passing people-oriented bills. It is much appreciated that pressure is being mounted on Ministry of Environment to stand up to its responsibility. Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development must forthwith be pressurized to allow law take its full course whenever there are cases of illegal structures built on setbacks of canals and buildings near water banks across the state.

The government too can find serious means of rising to the funding challenges of projects as gargantuan but highly desirable as flood control infrastructure is. Seeking the support of World Bank or other institutions in this regard cannot be a bad deal, borrowing a leaf from how Senegal got the attention of World Bank to approve a large sum of $155 million financing to reduce flood risk in Peru urban area of Dakar.

Citizens must be law abiding, financially supportive by paying taxes promptly as and when due and live responsibly in relation with their civic duties.

  • Ojewusi writes from Lagos.

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