Residents of the Zone One community in the Igando Estate Phase 3 Community Development Area of Lagos State have called on the state government to save them from being totally displaced as many of them have abandoned their homes due to severe flooding.
According to the residents, waste from the landfill at the Oko-filling bus stop has also blocked the major drainage channels in the area, which has resulted in flooding during the rainy season, while in the dry season, they contend with unpleasant stench from the landfill and are always anxious about fire outbreaks. The residents appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to help them to construct drainage channels, grade the roads and address the issue of the landfill.
While many families have sought shelter elsewhere to protect themselves, those who cannot afford to leave have to flee to elevated places whenever it rains. One of such people is a woman identified simply as Abosede, who took to sleeping in a toilet with her child. The toilet, which is built on a higher ground outside the main apartments, has become a safe haven for her and her child.
The 50-year-old Abosede said, “For years now, this is how we’ve been living here and it’s affecting my health and that of my child; the place is no longer conducive for us, but we can’t afford to rent another place. “Whenever it rains, the other women and I used to fight for space in the toilet, but most of the women allow me to have the toilet because of my age.
“All the things I moved with into this community have been destroyed. If we go out to work and it starts raining, we begin to worry and panic, because we know that there won’t be a place for us to sleep. It means a night of trouble, cold and mosquitoes. When we return to see our homes flooded, we go to bed hungry as there will be no place to cook.” Abosede, who said she also cooks and eats in the toilet, added that the community urgently needed government intervention.
Another resident, Chief Offe Michael, said the flood, coupled with fluids from decomposing materials at the landfill, contaminate boreholes in the area and make the water unsafe for consumption.
Michael said, “I buy bags of sachet water every day; and this is after spending money to drill a borehole; it’s painful. Our boreholes have been contaminated. Children and adults are plagued by diseases. Armed robbers and miscreants have taken over the community.
“I’m asthmatic and once its rains, the landfill start emitting horrible stench and heat, triggering crisis for me.” The Secretary of the CDA, Samuel Ohwerhoye, said only government intervention could provide lasting solutions to the problems. He stated, “I have been in this community for over 22 years. It used to be the best place in town, but today, everything has changed.
“As members of this community, we have repeatedly spent our resources to channel the flood water, but nothing appears to be working. Once it starts raining, we won’t be able to stay in this community. The landfill is also another problem; it pushes water back into the community. “We’ve complained to previous administrations; engineers would come, look around and then leave and that would be the end; we wouldn’t hear anything from them again. We pray that the Governor Sanwo-Olu-led administration will come to our aid.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Adekunle Adeshina, said the community had not been abandoned, adding that the landfill was in the process of being decommissioned.
Adeshina said, “The state government has not abandoned the community; what it is doing is the decommissioning of the landfill. It is a combination of processes and it has started already; it is a gradual process. By the time the decommissioning is concluded, I am sure it will become a waste to wealth project.
“Another issue is that the residents built their houses after the landfill had been located in that area, which has constituted a major environmental challenge. And the population is growing astronomically, so, people build houses wherever they find land available. But I believe that the state government is thinking of some measures to alleviate the challenges they are facing.”