Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State
It was a Ã¢â‚¬Å“rain of terrorÃ¢â‚¬Â Sunday as an all-day torrential rainfall literally submerged Lagos State, halting human and vehicular activities and forcing the state government to close public schools as a pre-emptive against human disaster
It was even worse in Katsina State as seven persons, including a primary school pupil, were killed and 120 houses destroyed at the weekend.
It could get more complicated: further heavy rainfalls are predicted in the major cities Monday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, among others Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as this year is fast turning out to be the wettest in recent years.
Virtually all parts of Lagos State Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Victoria Island, Lekki, Abule Egba, Ikeja, Apapa, Oshodi, Ikorodu, Agege, Okokomaiko, Ketu Ã¢â‚¬â€œ were flooded, forcing residents to stay indoors, while those on the streets battled it out.
A number of vehicles were submerged by the flood, while most motorcycle operators, called Okada riders, were off the roads.
Moved by the development, the state government appealed to residents to bear with it as it works out solution to the flooding.
The state commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said in a statement: “Dear Lagosians, please bear with us. Today’s downpour has been heavier than normal as the state government had earlier warned. It has been raining since 5am in many areas and it hasn’t stopped.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The water level has risen incredibly so that the channels that are meant to discharge water from the roads and drainages are completely locked because of the high tide and because both the Atlantic Ocean and Lagoon that receive water from our channels have risen more than usual.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Please be calm and do not panic. Once the rains subside, the water on the roads would gradually disappear. Our men are on the field working to manage this situation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Please endeavour to remain indoors as much as possible until the rain stops. Thank you for your understanding.Ã¢â‚¬Â
BelloÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s counterpart in transport ministry, Hon. Kayode Opeifa, also advised Lagosians to restrict their movement following the torrential downpour.
Opeifa in his statement, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Traffic AdvisoryÃ¢â‚¬Â, said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Due to heavy flooding occasioned by persistent rain fall previously predicted by the NIMET, sections of most Lagos roads are flooded. Motorists and road users are advised to stay off the roads except it is absolutely necessary. This advisory will be updated every hour. Thanks for your co-operation.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In Ejigbo, a suburb of the city, the rains flooded all the streets as the drainage system, blocked with refuse, could not channel the flood water.
It was also the same scenario at Jakande Estate, Isolo, Ago-Palace Way and the popular Cele Bus Stop as the area, too, was flooded.
Commuters were stranded as there were no vehicles to convey them to their destination. Along Lawanson Road in Surulere Local Government, all shops where refrigerators and other household items are sold were flooded.
However, Mile 2, Satellite Town, FESTAC Town, Mile 12, Apapa, and Lekki-Ajah were flooded, making the roads practically impassable for motorists .
However, despite the rains on the Badagry Express way, the officials of Nigeria Customs Service were seen working thereby causing a traffic snarl before Iba.
A commuter, Mr. Ifeanyi Ikechukwu, told THISDAY that he had been on the road since afternoon because of the traffic caused by the customs officers.
Worrying over the effect of the rain on Monday’s traffic, Mr. Lawrence Epuechi noted that given the experience of Sunday, it would indeed be a horrifying experience for road users.
Speaking to THISDAY, a kiosk owner simply identified as Aminu said he had to close shop because of the down pour not just because of the intensity of the rain but because his kiosk which was built across a drainage system was covered.
“My problem now is how to stop it from spoiling and carrying away my shop since I built it across the drainage. The level of the water inside the shop is much so I just packed what the rain can spoil and carried it inside my room,” he said.
In Katsina, another torrential rainfall which lasted for about three hours killed seven persons including a primary school pupil on Friday night.
According to a witness, Mallam Abdullahi Aliyu, the primary school pupil, Al-Amin Rufa, lost his life in the flood.
It was also gathered that over 340 houses were affected by the flood, while 120 of them caved in.
The State Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema sympathised with the victims and promised to assist accordingly.
Shema, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Muntari Ibrahim, urged the victims to respect the laws guiding construction to forestall future occurrence of the unfortunate incident.
Mallam Abdullahi Aliyu of Kofar Marusa, a suburb of Katsina which was also affected by the flood, said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“One of the deceased, Abdullahi Shitu, a JSS 3 student of Government College Katsina, fell into the culvert while trying to rescue a woman who came out from her house accompanied by her two kids looking for assistance.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He narrated: Ã¢â‚¬Å“When he fell into the culvert, the water pushed him to a nearby bridge and one of his colleagues, who was around the mosque, jumped into the water with the intention to rescue late Abdullahi, but while heading towards him, a woman shouted for help after she had put her two children on a wall in order to rescue them from being taken away by the water.Ã¢â‚¬Â
According to him, late AbdullahiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s corpse and that of little Al-Amin were found at Tudun-Katsira in Kofar-Marusa area the following day.
Aliyu added that when they went to Tudun-Katsira in search of late Abdullahi the following day, they also saw four corpses of other victims around Lambun Sarki. The corpses included that of a boy and an aged woman.
Another victim, Alhaji Sani Muhammad, who lost his house, told THISDAY: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was among the first settlers in the area, but for the past 20 years, the community has never witnessed a flood disaster like this time around.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Muhammad said when buildings in the area started collapsing, they thought they would all die inside the mosque where they went to avoid the flood.
He recalled: Ã¢â‚¬Å“After we realised that our houses had been taken over by the flood, we directed our wives and children to run to our neighboursÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ houses that were not affected by the disaster while we ran into the mosque for our dear lives.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A Good Samaritan at Tudun-Katsira quarters, Mallam Rilwanu Bello, said they spent over three hours rescuing victims who were washed to the area by the flood from other areas.
THISDAY observed that areas affected include Kofar-Marusa, Kofar-Sauri, Sabuwar-Unguwa, Kofar-Kaura and Katsina Cikin-Gari.