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•Bad roads, flooding, water crisis give residents of Lagos community hell
By Victoria Amadi and Precious Ihejirika
It was in the afternoon. Children and a few adults roamed about aimlessly, unperturbed by the dirt and the stench. Welcome to Orile-Iganmu in Sari-Iganmu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State.
Orile, as the community is popularly called, is located between Iganmu and Mile Two, just off the expressway, with popular streets such as Amusu, Afagboun, Ikahle and Adeleye. The area is is a sprawling community with most roads hardly passable. Some of the buildings are uncompleted and deserted while others are overcrowded. The narrow paths linking the streets and houses are dotted with stagnant water. The environment is generally an eyesore.
Communicating with residents of this community requires that you know how to manoeuvre between Pidgin English and Yoruba. To effortlessly traverse the terrain, simple and smart dressing is the rule.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a slum is unfit for human habitation for reasons such as dilapidation, overcrowding, lack of ventilation, absence of waste disposal managers, and lack of potable water. When the reporters visited the community, a few of the slum dwellers led Daily Sun into their worlds.
An elderly resident, Mr. Mustapha stated that he moved into the area more than 10 years ago alongside his family members when the major roads were yet to be constructed. At that time, regular supply of electricity in the area was a mirage. He explained that the government recognised the area a few years ago and tarred most of the major roads. Even at that, the community is still grappling with other challenges. Mustapha stated that among the woes confronting the people there, flooding has been the worst, appearing insurmountable from season to season.
He said: “Flooding is a very familiar experience in this neighbourhood. It is traceable to the fact that when the government fixed the major roads leading here, it had to block all the existing drainages. Since the road constructions ended, the canal has been filled up with a lot of debris because the water does not flow when it rains. Government should help us stop the flooding and fix our roads.”
Mustapha stated that during the rainy season, all the streets and narrow paths are always filled with stagnant water for at least four days or more. During this period, residents stay indoors; watching helplessly for the water to subside. He said the rainy season serves like an epidemic in the area as most residential buildings are not strong enough to withhold a storm. Buildings with poor foundation also get weakened by the flood.
“One of the streets is Adeleye, and here, the water never dries up. The people walk in the water to get to their destination.”
Sari-Iganmu community has a few primary schools, but there is no secondary school. The nearest secondary school is at Ladipo, which is quite a distance for the students. However, the community has four mosques and three churches where the dwellers congregate to worship their maker.
Mustapha stated that although there has never been a fire outbreak since he moved into the neighbourhood, petty thefts are a common occurrence. He said there are a lot of idle youths that steal from people’s shops and homes, adding that they even go as far as attacking strangers and robbing them of their possessions.
Daily Sun also spoke to Mrs. Mariam Kabiru, a popular nurse in the community. the mother of three highlighted some challenges she encountered while raising her kids in the area. Mariam said her kids always came down with water-borne diseases during the wet season. She lamented that it was almost impossible not to come in contact with some fever during the period because of the flooding. She explained further that she and her older kid have developed immunity for the fever but always has to give treatment to her younger ones. Mariam called on the government to help clear the blocked canal so it can reduce the floods in the neighbourhood.
A retailer in the neighbourhood, Mallam Ahmed Musa lamented the deplorable state of roads in the area, pointing out that it affects his business. He said that most times he dreads going to the market to restock his shop because the means of transporting the goods are difficult. Even truck pushers charge exorbitant fares because of the bad roads, Ahmed lamented.
A mother of three who resides at one of the affected streets, Bisi Adeolu, explained her displeasure at the poor level of security in the neighbourhood. She said fighting in the street was a regular recurrence among the hoodlums. According to her, hardly does a month pass without the residents running helter-skelter and hiding in their houses for more than a week as a result of the confusion caused by the hooligans.
“The children can’t play around and we can’t even go to work freely because there are too many touts in this neighbourhood. They fight and steal. They even go to the extent of fighting with guns, machetes and other harmful weapons.”
On the other hand, a lady who simply identified herself as Iyabo, a fish seller at the Zion Street Market, said business was quite good in the area, noting that people come from various streets to patronise the traders who are known for selling tasty fish at negotiable prices.
She said: “Business is good in this Zion Market. Foodstuff and fish business are booming here. People even come from streets that are a bit far from Zion like Ojoafeje, Adeleye, Moshalashi and even Olaitan just to patronise us because our fishes are tasty and we sell at good prices.”
Also afflicting the residents is inadequate water supply. The people are subjected to accepting whatever they get as water and at exorbitant rates. They lack clean drinking water and are left with the option of buying sachet or bottled water, which is quite very expensive. They basically rely on the few vendors who sell fairly treated tap and borehole water, which they use for washing, bathing and cooking. And whenever those vendors do not show up, especially due to water scarcity which is paramount in the area, their only means of survival would be to go in search of well water.
For years now, water management has been a very strong tradition they live with; they curtail their use of water because they do not have enough. They even go to the extent of punishing their children over spilled sachet of water or misuse of available tap or borehole water.
When asked how they survive in dry season, Favour Onyekachi, a 17-year-old girl told Daily sun that the only house chore that gives her sleepless night is fetching water.
She said: “I hate fetching water; it gives me sleepless nights, especially in dry season because that is when we experience regular scarcity of water. I have to walk down two streets away from my street just to get well water and we use it for bathing, washing and even cooking. If we are lucky and any vendor comes out to sell tap water, whether clean or not, we struggle to get it, even though it is expensive.”
Another resident who identified himself as Jude also said that the dry season is always tough when it comes to water.
He said: “The dry season is always very bad and stressful. I have to wake up very early by 5:00am just to go and fetch well water. This is because the well dries up before evening and can only come up early the next morning so anyone who goes there at a later hour will find nothing to fetch.”
The rainy season seems to be the best and most reliable source of water supply for the residents of Orile. This is because the rainy season brings their water problems to a halt. They set out their plastic bowls and buckets whenever it rains so as to get enough water to do virtually everything without cost and much stress.
A nursing mother, Mrs. Ifunanya Eze, said the rainy season brings relief to her. She said: “I hardly got water to bathe my baby, wash her clothes, clean the house, not to even talk of doing any other thing during the dry season but in this rainy season, all I have to do is just take my plastics outside in the rain and bring it in when it’s full. I get more than enough water to do my chores and at no cost.”
A popular fast food joint owner Iya Wasiu, said that rainy season makes her happy because water is sure. She said: “I am always happy during the rainy season because getting water would no longer be stressful and I won’t have to spend much. My business requires a lot of water and anytime there is scarcity of water, it affects me badly. But once the rainy season starts, I don’t have a problem. All I have to do is to set out my buckets and bowls.”
Idris Bolaji, one of the water vendors told Daily Sun the difficulty encountered in selling water.
He said: “It’s not easy to sell water. We pay a lot of money to the union and yet most times, especially when they claim that water is scarce, we have to buy fuel and not depend on power to pump water. And still, we get nothing. That’s why when we finally get a little, we increase the price. Maintaining our tank and pumping machine, paying for space are also part of the reasons we increase the price of water.”