Flooding had always been synonymous with Lagos over the years such that past governments have not been able to devise a solution despite the danger it posed. TEMITOPE MUSOWO writes that the situation is even getting worse day by day.
Perennial flooding has become a problem in many states of Nigeria in recent times, especially in Lagos state, a menace, environmentalists have attributed to the anthropogenic activities and other natural occurrences as a result of global warming and climate change.
Particularly worrisome is the situation in Lagos where commercial activities are always grounded each time rain falls.
The magnitude of havoc wrecked each day there is torrential rainfall in Lagos and the neighbouring Ogun calls for concern.
Stakeholders alike have therefore predicted that if nothing is done to arrest the situation, the entire city of Lagos may soon become history as it appears to have decided all solution.
Causes and dangers of perennial flooding
Mr Deji Akinpelu, founder, Rethinking Cities Initiative, an advocacy group that focuses on urban development, described it as worrisome.
He said Lagos is experiencing perennial flooding due to urban planning failure.
‘’The failure to protect our wetlands, giving them up for housing developments has led to having water bodies not finding a direction to flow.”
He also added that the poor commitment of the government and poor coordination between government ministries to Lagos drainage master plan in terms of funding and execution is largely responsible.
Waste management problem
Deji blamed the state government in the last administration, in particular, for the ban of cart pushers which he said has led to poor waste management in informal communities such as Dust Bin Estate, Ajegunle, Makoko, among others.
“The danger to us in near future is a Lagos submerged by water. Lekki is highly under that treat and even several parts of the mainland. Presently, Adeniji Adele Estate, is under serious threat of building collapse due to flooding because of dredging activities.
Deji noted that lives have been lost during heavy rains due to flooding.
“A good number of people after living in Lekki, moved out due mainly to flood issues, noting that very soon people would begin to move out of the state itself due to loses they experienced caused by flooding.”
Proffering solutions to the problem
Analysts say there is a need for commitment by the state government to the drainage master plan with enough budgetary provision. Also,
the Ministry of Environment should publish the drainage master plan on its website to enable local residents verify whether new interventions in their areas are potentially violating the plan. More so,
intervention in waste management in informal communities by allowing cart pushers will discourage dumping of waste in canals is sacrosanct. Going beyond waste collection to waste separation from homes to waste recycling can also be considered, according to analysts.
According to Deji, “We need to pursue a development plan that is inclusive, liveable for both the rich and the poor at the same time. Our goal shouldn’t be to make Lagos the next Dubai rather, lets create a Lagos that is climate resilient and sustainable that puts the interest of 70 per cent of her population working in the informal sector at heart.”
To further seek clarification on the issue of urban planning, acting head of department, Urban and Regional Planning, Lagos State Polytechnic, Mr Peter Fosudo, said there is lack of planning of most towns and communities, and that there are no good drainage plans for many settlements.
A situation where developers do not seek planning permits before building, especially along drainage channels, block the water course and inadequate monitoring by the Lagos State Building Control Agency officials.
He however expressed concern about these plans because many of the recommendation are not in public domain, saying this is a minus on the side of the government that spent so much on plan preparation.
Is Lagos endangered?
A sustainable development and environmental consultant, Mr Oludapo Opeyemi, bared his mind on what he termed an impending danger. To him, there are combinations of factors responsible for perennial flooding in Lagos ranging from anthropogenic factors to policy inconsistencies.
“Our laws are obsolete; these laws were promulgated in the 50s and 60s; penalties and fines against offenders are unimaginably low. We need to review and update these laws as soon as possible and make them relevant to our present day realities,” he said.
He also blamed government/regulatory officials for compromise in most cases for problems like unregulated sand filling.
He condemned the allocation of floodplains and wetlands for development.
“Floodplains and wetlands are meant to be preserved; they serve as buffer in the event of flash floods but in Lagos we have practically destroyed all our floodplains and wetlands at the altar of development and economic gains.”
Population increase is another factor, he mentioned, “The ever increasing population of Lagos resulting in land cover modifications and depletion of ecosystems in the name of development is another factor’’.
Government’s effort against the looming danger
The Lagos State House of Assembly has set up an adhoc committee to look into the issues of environmental challenges and degradation in the state.
The committee was announced by the speaker, Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, during plenary.
Obasa observed that issues of abandoned projects and disposal of refuse characterised the environment in the state. He directed the committee to visit some of the drainages, LAWMA office and report back to the House in one week.