Lagos State Government, on Tuesday, allayed fears of residents on the continuous heavy downpour being experienced in the past few days, assuring that necessary measures were in place to effectively manage the flash floods resulting from the rain.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, gave the assurance at a Press Briefing in Alausa Lagos, while explaining measures already put in place for this year’s rainfall, stating that additional heavy rains should be expected in July and September.
He urged all residents of low lying areas like Agboyi-Ketu, Ajegunle and several others to relocate from their residences, without further delay, in order to avoid being trapped and loosing their lives and properties to the rainfall.
Bello also advised residents living along the plains of Ogun River to be at alert and take necessary precautions as the Ogun Osun River Basin Authority, which manages the Oyan River Dam would soon commence the seasonal water releases, disclosing that the controlled water discharge had become exigent as a result of weather forecasts and the continuous heavy downpour.
In his words: “In July, five million Cubic Meters (MCM) will be released while by August, they will release eight to 10 million cubic metres. In September, it will be increased to 18 million cubic metres while in October, 23 million cubic metres will be released which is the peak. Then by November gradual reduction of water release to the tube will be 11million cubic metres”.
He stressed that from the prediction of the Nigeria Meteorological Services, NIMET, released early in the year, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicated that the year 2020 would likely experience days with extremely high rainfall which might result in flooding.
The Commissioner stated that the high volume of rainfall being experienced in June would run into July and September, urging Lagosians not to entertain fear because the State Government had put in place strategies to contain flooding that might be experienced as a result of heavy rainfall.
“The State Government is presently working on 222 secondary channels out of which 146 have been completed across the State, just as 46 primary Channels are presently receiving attention, in addition to the efforts of the Emergency Flood Abatement Gangs (EFAG) that are being deployed around the State to undertake quick fix to free manholes or clogged up drains manually”, Bello stated.
He assured members of the public, particularly residents of Aguda, Shomolu, Surulere, Oworonshoki and Idi-Oro, that contractors were already working on all the channels in the area, disclosing that cleaning usually start from the lower stream to the upper stream and that the same applied in Aguda, where dredging was moving gradually towards all the areas adjoining LUTH Idi-Araba and Ishaga which were all parts of System 6c.
Bello, who stated that Idi-Oro and Olosha in Mushin were areas experiencing some problems resulting from indiscriminate dumping refuse, assured that the Ministry was taking steps to tackle the problem of refuse dumping in the area so that the drainage channels could work effectively.
He stated that part of measures taken to dissuade residents from unhindered dumping of refuse was the recent arrest of eight people in Idi-Araba for throwing waste into the canal.
He disclosed that the government was in talks with Ogun State Government to identify a site that would complement the inadequate capacity of Olusosun dumpsite for joint management by both States, warning that the Ministry had empowered its environmental enforcement agents to arrest and prosecute sanitation offenders in Lagos.
Also speaking at the Press briefing, the Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr. Joe Igbokwe said the issue of flooding was not only peculiar to Nigeria because other countries of the world also experience flooding during the rainy season.
He decried the situation where residents erect shanties on drainage setbacks, dump refuse indiscriminately, block drainage channels and constitute a nuisance to the neighbourhood, stressing that the government would embark on strict enforcement of the environmental laws against perpetrators.
Igbokwe urged Lagosians to embrace the waste to wealth initiative of the State where plastic bottles and Styrofoam could be sorted in exchange for a stipend, adding that in coming days, a commercially viable option would be found for styrofoams.
He said that the State Government would not rest on its oars in ensuring that Lagosians inculcate the habit of regular maintenance of their immediate environment as doing so remained a collective responsibility.
The Special Adviser, thereafter, advised Lagosians to be safety conscious during this period and urged them to take some safety measures such as staying home during the rains, except it was absolutely necessary, while charging them to be conscious when driving, ensuring that vehicles were in good condition and resisting the urge to drive through flooded areas when it was difficult to ascertain the depth of the water.