Sierra Leone’s president appealed Tuesday for urgent help for the flood-hit capital of Freetown where more than 300 people have died, as rescue workers resumed the grim search for bodies. The Red Cross says it is struggling to excavate families buried deep in the mud that engulfed their homes, although several bodies were pulled up by machines…
• Residents tremble, as Ibadan awaits more rains
From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
these days, whenever clouds form in the firmament, fear of unknown has always been sending shivers down the spines of millions of residents of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. At such times, they always send supplications to God that He should not send heavy rains down.
A popular lyrics by a Nigerian reggae singer-songwriter and guitarist, Majekodunmi Fasheke, popularly known as Majek Fashek, “Send Down the Rain,” is probably a taboo for residents of Ibadan, at least between now and October 2017.
The fear stemmed from the annual flood outlook for Nigeria presented to the public on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Abuja by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).
The agency identified Oyo as one of the states to likely experience heavy flash flooding this year. The report specifically identified Ibadan as highly prone to the potential disaster and advised all states, flagged in the report, to immediately embark on proactive measures to, at least, mitigate the negative cause of such flooding.
Exactly one week after the NIHSA’s flood alert, the heavens opened their widows and sent down water in copious quantity down to the earth. At the time the rain began, many residents of Ibadan were still on bed. It started around 4a.m in many places in the city and the rain lasted for almost five hours. Though the flood wreaked monumental havoc, no casualty was recorded. However, the residents of the city are currently trembling over what August heavy rains would bring.
Most recent flood disaster in Ibadan
By the time the rain stopped, it had brought a gruelling experience on residents of over 300 houses and religious worship centres in Ibadan. Many rivers and streams had overflown across the city. A lot of roads were flooded, trees fell across major roads, bridges caved in and property worth millions of naira were either submerged or swept away by flood.
The most affected areas included Wofun, Oki, Akobo, Idi-Ape, Gbekuba, Apata, Omi-Adio, Orogun and Bodija. At least, eight houses were submerged near Olodo Garage, on the Ibadan-Iwo Road. Many people were held hostage in their houses and those who defied the rain were forced to make detour or wait till the flood on roads subsided before they continued with their journeys. A visit to Oyo State Government Secretariat around 10am, on the fateful day revealed that many workers resumed late in their offices due to the flood. Also, many markets did not open till around noon.
Four motorcycles were swept off by the flood at Onipepeye River along Old Ife Road. The river at Orogun overflowed the bridge and deluge of water paid unwanted visits to many houses and a church at the Orogun Junction along Ojoo-UI Road. The shepherd in charge of the Celestial Church of Christ, Orogun, Rufus Awolumate, with the assistance of members of the church had to carry children in the church at the time and put them on roofs of vehicles within the church premises to save them from the flood that was then chest-deep in the area. Several others trapped inside the church were also rescued.
Sources said a pregnant woman was rescued in the flood at Orogun Junction by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). At Idi Ape, a tree fell on the road and caused gridlock, forcing motorists to make detour to other routes.
Reports from Yawuri in Akobo said residents of the area had raised the alarm that the flood in the community was caused by a shop that was newly constructed on the waterway. They appealed to the Ministry of Environment to remove the shop.
In the afternoon of the following day, the Deputy Governor, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, led a delegation of the government on inspection of the affected areas. Commissioner for Environment, Chief Isaac Ishola; Commissioner for Information, Mr. Toye Arulogun; Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Akin Makinde; Director, Oyo State Bureau of Physical Planning, Alhaji Waheed Gbadamosi and Project Coordinator, Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP), Mr. Dayo Ayorinde were in the team.
The delegation visited Orogun, Abatakan in Ojoo area on Old Ibadan-Oyo Road, Wofun and Oki at Olodo as well as Onipepeye River along Old Ife Road. The deputy governor, who said government would not hesitate to demolish structures erected on water paths to prevent recurrence of the disaster, noted that but for the ongoing dredging of 36 rivers and streams in Ibadan by the IUFMP the disaster would have been worse.
He appealed to residents of Ibadan to desist from dumping refuse indiscriminately and building structures on water paths to prevent flood disaster. Ishola said government was working to curtail flood disaster in the city through the Ibadan Flood Management Masterplan that has reached the verge of completion.
After the flood subsided, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), went round Ibadan and said it counted more than 300 houses ravaged by flood in different parts. Its South West Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Suleiman Yakubu, stated that the affected houses were built in areas prone to flooding, saying:
“We also observed that the main cause of the flood is the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages and people erecting structures on flood path. This is indeed very dangerous. We can only implore the people to always observe the mandatory 30 metres setback required by the environmental laws before erecting any structure.” He stated that the agency would help the victims with relief materials “to support the victims. Just like we did in 2011, we will be there this time also to support the people.”
Past flood disasters
Within the past 60 years, Ibadan recorded at least 16 major flood disasters. One of such was the August 26, 2011, that occurred after a downpour for about four to five hours, which according to experts measured 187.5mm (about 7.38”). The flooding was reportedly aggravated by the overflow of Eleyele Dam reservoir.
The disaster caused the death of more than 120 people and serious damages to infrastructure – many bridges collapsed, roads were washed away, and property worth millions of naira were destroyed.
In the same vein, people who are more than 40 years old and students of history would not forget the notorious 1980 flood disaster in Ibadan, known as “Omiyale.” It was the flood that gave Ogunpa River its national and international notoriety.
The “Omiyale” wreaked the havoc after a-10-hour downpour. More than 100 bodies were retrieved from the debris of collapsed houses and vehicles washed away by the flood.
In 1960, more than 1,000 residents were rendered homeless when the Ogunpa River exceeded its banks. More than 500 houses were damaged in 1963 when the river again flooded the city. In 1978, official record confirmed that 32 bodies were retrieved from the ruins of the flood even as more than 100 houses were destroyed.
Dumping of household waste is known to be dumped along the path of OgunpaRiver, which had resulted in disastrous consequences on some occasions.
The Ogunpa River, to an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is a third-order stream with a channel length of 21.5 kilometres (13.4 mi) and a drainage basin, covering 73.3 square kilometres (28.3 sq mi), draining the densely populated eastern part of Ibadan Nigeria.
Ogunpa channelisation project
In 1977, Oyo State Government started the Ogunpa River Channelisation Project. But the project was taken over by the Federal Government in 1999 after the project had been bedeviled by series of problems for 22 years. A contract of N10billion was awarded by the Federal Government for completion of the Channelisation of Ogunpa River.
The entire project was scheduled for completion in February 2003. The channelisation, which was done with the assistance of the World Bank, commenced at Dandaru, near Agodi Gardens through Mokola, Oniyanrin, Oke Padre, Ogunpa Market, Oke Ado, Molete and so on. But some of the contractors working on the channelisation allegedly abandoned the site based on paucity of funds.
Investigation by Daily Sun revealed that the channelisation project was to extend beyond Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at the notorious Soka area.
A resident of Felele New Extension, hitherto known as Soka, who preferred anonymity, said: “We changed the name of this area from Soka to Felele New Extension because of bad name Soka has. Soka was known for ritualistic activities.
But the killing of human beings for ritual purposes in Soka in those days would not have happened at all, had it been that the Ogunpa River Channelisation Project was completed and not abandoned. There is Ogunpa beyond the express.
“I am sure if the project was completed, Soka area would have been opened up for development and the ritual killings would not have occurred in the bush there. But I must put it on record that the place has changed for better today. I therefore appeal to the Federal Government to revisit the contract for the Ogunpa Channelisation Project, find out why the project was abandoned with appropriate punishment and ensure that the project is completed.”
Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project
The Friday, August 26, 2011, flood disaster in Ibadan, which caused death of over 120 people and serious damages to infrastructure, prompted Governor Abiola Ajimobi to set up a taskforce to proffer effective and lasting means of reducing the vulnerability of the city to natural disasters, especially flooding.
The taskforce recommended development of three important master plans for the city of Ibadan. One of the master plans is the Ibadan City Masterplan. The other two are drainage master plan as well as sewage and solid waste master plan.
The governor also sought the assistance of the World Bank in finding a lasting solution to the problems of flooding in the state.
The outcome of the meeting led to the setting up of IUFMP with the assistance of the World Bank to prepare a master plan for Ibadan with a view to ensuring coordinated physical growth, and improved socio-economic development of the city.
However, the draft copies of Ibadan City Masterplan had been presented to the governor by the consultant handling the project, setting out the direction in which the development of Ibadan would go in the next 20 years.
Gbadamosi said the draft presentation would further be reviewed and relevant comments would be sent to the consultant for incorporation into the final master plan:
“The master plan intends to provide sufficient land capacity in order to accommodate the anticipated future population of the city which will be 11.3million by 2036. It provides direction for future expansion and identifies key development opportunities. It optimises the use of land and provide for the needs of future populations. The intention is to guide growth and support development.”
IUFMP reads riot act to residents
In a bid to prevent flooding in Ibadan, the Project Coordinator, IUFMP, Ayorinde, advised residents of Ibadan to adhere strictly with existing Environmental Laws and Regulations in the state: “We will recall that Ibadan in recent past experienced an increase in the prevalence of flash and urbanisation flooding. As a matter of fact, the city recorded 16 major events in the last 50 years. Latest of these events took place after a downpour for about four to five hours and measuring 187.5mm (about 7.38”) on August 26, 2011.
“The flooding was also aggravated by the overflow of Eleyele dam reservoir. This sad event caused the death of more than 120 people and serious damages to infrastructure – many bridges collapsed, roads were washed away, and substantial property were destroyed.
“We want to avoid a repeat of such bad occurrence. In order to adequately prepare for this probability of flooding, the state government has started putting in place necessary machineries to achieve its goal.
“One of such which commenced on June 1, 2017, days before the commencement of the 2017 flood alert, is the dredging of some rivers and streams and clearing of water channels in the city of Ibadan to allow for free flow of water.
“However, our people – whether they live in flood prone areas or not, also have vital roles to play and we strongly advise that people should properly dispose their domestic waste as against the dumping of refuse in drainages and waterways. Once the rain is persistent for about 20 minutes, people living in houses built along flood plains should relocate. People should avoid the use of low bridges and culverts when the rain is persistent.
“Drainages in front of people’s houses must be cleared. Whenever there is raining fall, people should not stay under high-tension cable. There is no doubt that we can together mitigate the impact of flooding in Ibadan city, whether we live in flood prone area or not. All these advice should be strictly adhered to for our own good, while non-compliance will be dealt with in accordance with
Commissioner for Finance and Budget, Mr. Abimbola Adekanmbi, who is a member of of the Inter-ministerial Steering Committee (ISC) for IUFMP, said government “wants to ensure safety of lives of the citizens. Flooding took a lot of lives.
“The state government wants to put in place strong, and resilient structures so that future flooding would not cause future disasters. In areas where we can prevent, we will put in preventive measures. In areas where we can reduce, we will reduce the impact and we need to prepare people so that they can know all that would be put in place by IUFMP.
“When all the structures, studies, works and master plans are put in place, Ibadan will become fortified against flood risk, especially when there are heavy rains in Ibadan.
“For the citizenry, what they want most of all is to be alive, and that flood does not take their livelihood, and that we will ensure and also guarantee better quality of life and safety.”