Flooding of the Ojo-Afeje community in the Sari-Iganmu area of Apapa-Iganmu Local Council Development Area of Lagos, especially during the rainy season, has become a regular annual occurrence. Residents of the area are, however, lamenting the effects of the incessant flood and poor drainage system on their houses and health.
Pa Safarudeen Soremekun is an old resident of the Ojo-Afeje community. He built his house in the area over 26 years ago.
According to PaSoremekun, in the first few years of his stay in the community, there was no problem, but not long after that, flooding became a yearly problem in the area.
Since the flooding began years ago – due to indiscriminate development of houses and the conversion of the community’s canal to a dumping site – Pa Soremekun said he and other residents have continued to suffer huge losses in personal possessions, while also watching helplessly as their properties get destroyed.
He noted that while most residents of the area have become accustomed to living in the community, he is not unmindful of the health risk that comes with residing in such an environment.
Pa Soremekun added that due to the flooding, three out of the bedrooms in his apartment are usually evacuated, as the floods make the rooms their home yearly.
A first-time visitor to the Ojo-Afeje community will see nothing but a sorry sight of deprivation and squalor.
This dingy community is dotted by old houses, the backyards of most of which have been abandoned by residents as they have become marshy due to flooding.
While a few houses still stand firm, most are noticeably slanted, sinking into the ground.
A visit to the area by our correspondent also revealed that many houses in the community have been abandoned and overtaken by pools of water that have now turned green.
Paradoxically, while Ojo-Afeje is barely habitable, the community is flowing with residents in their hundreds. The residents are mostly petty traders.
As sad as the situation is, many of the residents say they cannot leave, as they cannot afford to rent new houses. Others say they cannot leave the homes they have built.
When PUNCH HealthWise visited Pa Soremekun’s home recently after recent flooding that occurred in the Lagos metropolis, the sitting room still smelt of dampness. Also, the only seat available was noticeably still wet and lined with growing moulds.
The 91-year-old lamented, “Every year we swim inside this dirty water; is it good?
“We are not asking for anything more than for the government to take care of the community and the environment.
“Look at my house – even my bedroom is flooded, but we have to manage it like that. There’s nowhere for us to go. I built this house years ago before this flooding began.
“My children have been asking me to leave but I cannot leave. This is my house, I built it.”
He pleaded with the government to come to the community’s help, saying, “Even if it’s only the gutter that they will do for us, we will be happy. We are only asking for a drainage system here,” he pleaded.
The situation at Pa Soremekun’s home mirrors the experience of some other residents in the community who were seen scooping buckets of water from their rooms.
Other residents who spoke with PUNCH HealthWise said the major reason houses in the community get flooded is due to the lack of a drainage system.
This flooding is also worsened by the canal that has been blocked by a heap of waste that also serves as a home and business place for scavengers.
The blocked canal is now a refuse dump, filled with filth above sea level. Thus the drainage channel that is supposed to run through the canal empties itself into the community that is now below sea level.
The residents say despite the alert by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) they cannot leave as they have nowhere to go.
A female resident who craved anonymity said the flooding in the area is always very severe.