What are the lessons learned from recent Lagos, Niger floods?
Earlier in the month some parts of the Lagos Island and some states of the country experienced incidences of flooding following torrential rainfall that lasted several hours. In Lagos, it resulted in a complete lock down of activities in some parts of Lagos. There were cases of lost of lives and property in places like Suleja in Niger State and some parts of Ibadan Municipal.
Following the incident, some environmentalists have called for urgent intervention by the state government to prevent more severe flooding of the areas, as more rains are expected in days ahead based on the Nigerian Meteorology Agency (NiMet) forecast.
Many reasons have been given by environmentalists for the flooding across Nigeria, among which is the poorly planned drainage system and channelisation, which in some places are non-existent. Flooding has become a costly annual experience in Nigeria with coastal cities usually the worst hit whenever there is heavy rainfall.
Residents across the city of Lagos spent the most part of the weekend of July 7, indoors sharing videos and photos of flood scenes on various social media platforms. One major feature about flood is that it neither respects nor discriminates against anybody. It visits the old, the young; the rich and the poor, particularly when necessary precautions are not taken.
BDSUNDAY spoke with a cross section of Lagosians on the possible lessons learnt as more rains are still expected according to NiMet.
Oluwapelumi Alamutu, a student
To control incidences of flood we should be build only in areas that are safe. In Nigeria, many people have a bad building plan. Everyone wants to utilise every single part of their piece of land not planning for unforeseen circumstances that may arise in the nearest future. No good foundation or drainage. These are the main causes of flood disasters in Lagos and in some other places in Nigeria. We should look beyond what we see and plan for tomorrow. Although flood problems cannot be completely solved, there are strategies that can be carried out to reduce the amount of damage that they cause.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent floods or reduce the damage they cause. We can all join hands, in our own little way, with the government to prevent flood-related calamities.
Dike Michael, photographer
Flooding is a serious catastrophe, and it is one of the common hazards we experience during heavy consistent down pour in Lagos. It should be taken seriously, because people end up losing their valuables. There should be a public education on how to prepare or tackle flooding, and also get trained officials to help ensure safety of life and property.
Pearce Oluwasunkanmi, student
Drainages need to be opened-up to avoid blockages. There should also be proper disposal of waste by people, and proper channeling of drainages along constructed roads. The government should demolish houses built on drainages, and set up a task force to monitor the drainages and ensure free flow of water. Moreover, people should stop dumping refuse on the road; though for this to work well, government must provide bins in every corner of the Lagos metropolis.
Helen Paul, actress/comedian
Flood is a natural disaster. As such, it will occur, whether we are ready or not. It is also an emergency that requires prompt action. I heard about a commercial motorcycle driver (popularly known as okada) who lost his life in the flood. He waded through the water and was trying to save his motorcycle. He died in the process. Lives are more important than property and as such, people should do all they can to save their lives first and foremost during natural disasters such as flood. Also, people need to be on the alert during rainy seasons. They should listen to and read about news in respect of weather conditions, and if they can afford to move out into the heavy water-logged or water-prone zones, they should do so promptly. People should also avoid contributing to flooding by disposing waste properly; house owners should ensure that they obtain the proper approvals to build. Houses should not be built on lands that are water-logged. This is a common practice in Lagos and it is very dangerous. They will just sand-fill lands and build on them. Prospective tenants, on their part, should avoid renting such properties.
Handling flood disasters is a government affair, the only thing the people can do is to keep their drainage system clean. Clean the gutters to ensure there is smooth flow of water. However, that can’t curb flooding like the one that happened in Lekki recently; the solution must be drastic.
There are lots of people that built on water channels on the Island and very close to the lagoon, stopping waste water from flowing freely. The best the government can do is to put in more drainage system, keep sandfilling the water (bar beach) to drive it further inside. People should stop offering land/buying land in obvious water areas, and they should ensure their gutters and drainage system is clean and clear.
Olotu Olaoluwa, administrator
With respect to the Lagos terrain, to resolve flood proper drainage systems, which include wider gutters that aren’t filled with debris and designated collection points where the water discharges to, must be put in place. It could be a water storage point which is designed to house large volumes of water. Also, houses should be built with considerations for the flood level, and houses around water bodies should use flood barriers
Nwanze Anthony, social worker
One of the major causes of flooding is the blockage of our drainages; hence I will call for immediate clearing of drainage systems. While calling on government to enlarge and create new ones. There is the need to improve on our waste management system. I will propose a socially conscious policy that will meet the need of the rich, and the poor to discourage indiscriminate dumping of waste that end up blocking the drainages. There is also the need to be environmentally friendly by supporting efforts to reduce climate change. This can be achieved by going green and reducing green house emission. Industries should invest in clean energy to reduce the level of carbon dioxide released to our environment, and improve on our preparedness and planning. We have agencies that are supposed to alert and warn the citizens before flooding is experienced at all. Finally, we need to immediately evacuate people from flood-prone areas to safe places and if possible move belongings and valuable properties. At this point in time, we need to be our brother’s keeper and lend a helping hand. I mean volunteering to help people affected by flood by accommodating them and providing other forms of support.
Aaliyah Adewusi, student
The response of people will vary due to exposure and level of understanding. But the right thing to do is to understand the meaning and everything as regards flood; this will give them an in-depth understanding on how it should be handled. It is said that Lagos has a poor drainage system, but what about the ignorance of people with the poor arrangement of houses and littering of environments with dirts which is otherwise known as “Land pollution?”
What should be done cannot be overemphasized. We have lots of houses without drainage, streams used as refuse grounds and when it rains, people use the opportunity to throw out their dirt. All these things are causes of flood disasters and it should be avoided.
James Unegbu, lawyer
We need to have our agencies set up to manage weather and its effects actually do their job. For example, we don’t know the volume of rainfall that produced the kind of flooding we experienced recently. Secondly, no one is telling us the impact on our land, (i.e.) has our water table risen higher? Which areas do we need to be weary to reduce risk of drowning or loss of property due to flooding? Also, our emergency response units need to work on their mandates. We need to see them actually working when emergencies like this occur.