Flooding is a global phenomenonthat has continued to constitute a major threat to cities and indeed nations across the world. In most major cities of the world people have been displaced and in some instances killed by ravaging flood similitude of the Noah period described in the Holy Bible. With the prediction of more rainfall by experts, most cities of the world are currently battling with the stark reality of flood.
Being a natural occurrence, flooding often time defies scientific solutions. Clearly, public safety and good sense call for scientific response to flooding. However, while upgrading environmental infrastructure is important, engineering fixes alone will not suffice. According to renowned ecologists Donald Hey and Nancy Philippi, despite the massive construction of levees throughout the upper Mississippi Basin during the 20th century, annual average flood damage during that time more than doubled.
Lagos’ population has so grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years that it has taken its toll on infrastructure across the state. As it is with other major cities like New York, London, New Delhi, Jakarta and so on, Lagos huge population has its peculiar challenges, especially as regards the environmental.
Lagos is an island of various sizes of water bodies, from the Lagos lagoon to different beaches scattered around the city. This makes the state naturally susceptible to flooding. Although it usually carries a negative connotation, flooding is quite a natural process and is simply the response of a natural system (a river system) to the presence of too much water during an interval of time. What this connotes is that flooding can be caused by heavy rains, melting snow and ice, and frequent storms within short time duration.
But then, it is important to stress that some human induced activities equally aid flooding. In Lagos, for instance, the practice of building houses near rivers and other bodies of water (i.e., within natural floodplains) has partly contributed to the metropolis flooding experience.
Similarly, poor and nonchalant waste disposal habit is another major cause of flooding in the State. It is a common sight to see people empty huge sacks of wastes in the drainage whenever it rains. In addition, commuters often throw papers and sundry wastes through the windows of moving vehicles. Sadly, this garbage often ends up in drainage channels after being blown away by breeze.
And to make matters worse, some illegal waste agents being faultily patronized by some residents dump the refuse they have been paid to dispose of in canals and large drainage channels. This act results in blockage of free flow of waste water, resulting in flooding whenever it rains. This is often rampant in markets and other commercial centers. If only the perpetrators of these acts are aware of the consequences of their action!
Often times, the effects of flooding on the affected residents are unquantifiable and devastating. The menace of flooding has rendered many people homeless, while not a few landlords have been stripped of their only investments. Invariably, this has contributed immensely to the upsurge in the level of social problems in the society. There is an increase in the army of the homeless, which has resulted in overcrowding in houses, all in attempts to play good neighbours and take these people in.
Infrastructures such as roads are not spared as a result of this menace of flooding. Many roads have been destroyed and the affected communities cut off from the rest of the state. This has affected economic, academic and social activities in these communities.
This explains why the State government has continued to enlighten the people about the enormity of the dangers posed by flooding and the need to stop every flood induced actions. The management of the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has equally stepped up on efforts to extend their services to the nooks and crannies of the State. This way, no one would have any reason to patronize cart pushers or engage in other environmentally unfriendly activities.
Over the years, the Lagos State government has invested massively in the recovery, rehabilitation and construction of several drains such as the Macgregor, Achapo, and Orile Canals which have been cleaned up. A major channel called System 5, which runs all the way from Surulere, down to Apapa, through Orile and through Ajegunle, has equally been dredged. At the last count, aside routine maintenance that runs into thousands, major construction and drainage works completed and on-going are in excess of 500.
The Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration is, no doubt, resolutely committed to a flood free Lagos. To really demonstrate this, it has begun a massive maintenance and clearing of major primary, secondary and tertiary drainage channels across the State.
Some of the vital drains in the State currently being cleared include Omole/Jubilee Agiliti, Muri International Channel, System 1 channel consisting of Odo Iya Alaro from Ojota to Lagoon.
Other channels are Elere Collector Drain, Agege, Idimu Road Collector Drain, Jimoh/Victoria/Shasha Road Collector Drain, Gudugba Collector Drain, Agege Motor Road, (Mushin section) and Kolawole Sebili/Falana Collector Drain.
Also included in the maintenance schedule are 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.
Also, 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, 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.
The State Office of Drainage Services has embarked on the exercise to complement efforts of the contractor handling the subsisting contract for maintenance of major drainage channels in the State.
It is, however, important that all stakeholders join hands with the State government to ensure flood free Lagos. It is sad to realize that in most cases people comply with environmental laws only when they are compelled to do so.
In Nigeria, we don’t appreciate preparedness and prevention of disaster but wait for problem before taking action despite our weak infrastructural development. Tackling natural occurrences such as climate change challenge and flooding is a collective responsibility. Combating it must, therefore, involve the active participation of every segment of the society.
Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & strategy, Alausa, Ikeja