Floods: Residents count losses as canoe operators rake in money

THE PUNCH Newspaper

The release of water by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority from Oyan Dam in Abeokuta North Local Government of Ogun State in August 2010 is a typical case of different strokes for different folks.

While some residents are counting their losses as floods have sacked most of them from their homes and rendered their means of livelihood useless, others, particularly canoe operators, are making brisk business.

A canoe operator, Mr. Olatunji Johnson, told PUNCH METRO on Wednesday that since the floods had created artificial ‘river‘ in areas along the bank of the Ogun River, he had been laughing all the way to the bank.

At his Agiliti area in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos, where he operates his canoe, Johnson told our correspondent that he made more than N6,000 daily ferrying people through Maidan Road, which had since been submerged in floodwaters.

“We charge them between N30 and N50 during the day and evening respectively. On a daily basis, I make more than N6,000. I tell you, canoe business here is a big business now.”

Another canoe operator, Mr. Zacheaus Odunsi, was full of smiles when PUNCH METRO sought his comment on the effect of the ravaging floods.

But the rosy pictures painted by Johnson and Odunsi are completely non-existent in Onyemaechi Uzoamaka‘s world.

Uzoamaka, who said the floods had made him homeless, added that now regretted not heeding the advice of some of his friends, who warned him not rent an apartment in the area in 2009.

A resident of Church Street in Kosofe, who identified himself simply as Tunde, said this year‘s floods were unprecedented.

”It was not like this in the previous years. As I speak, the majority of residents of the areas have been sacked by the floods. Schoolchildren can‘t go to school any more. Businesses have been shut. Social life is no more. It is that bad,” Tunde said.

PUNCH METRO gathered that the situation was not different from other affected floodplain areas on the bank of the river as the flooding had brought significant number of residents to their knees.

Our correspondent, who visited some of the affected communities, observed that the situation was hectic especially during rush hours as residents fell over one another trying to board canoes to access the landed areas.

One of our correspondents, who was trapped at Maidan area had to hire a canoe to and fro to navigate through Aina Road to Agiliti and other affected areas where many buildings had been submerged.

On Tuesday, a newspaper publishing company, Business Hallmark, cried out that its premises on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was submerged in flood and appealed to the government to come to its aid quickly.

In the area, Nigerian Turkish International College, has been sacked by the floods forcing the students to evacuate the building.

Also, our correspondents reported that the only road leading to Warewa community in Ifo Local Government of Ogun State, had been cut off by the flood. The residents resorted to communal efforts and constructed a makeshift bridge to enable them to access their homes.

The Iyaloja General of the Greema International Market, Warewa, Mrs. Bilikz Popoola, told one of our correspondents that they had lost an unquantifiable amount of goods, property and cattle to the disaster.

“We had to engage the services of swimmers and canoe operators to help us to salvage the ones they could. I appeal to the government to come to our rescue fast before something untoward will happen,” another trader, Mrs. Blessing Anosike, said.

Two cattle rearers, Isa Mohammed and Ramat Hassan, said the majority of their cattle had perished and countless others had gone astray because of the uncontrollable floods.

The Otun Baale of Warewa Town, Mr. Aina Ogundele, said many residents had been displaced, while socio-economic and education activities had been paralysed in the area.

“The flood is affecting all the communities. many have been forced to move out of their houses. For over four weeks now, people cannot sleep in their houses. We want the government to help so that it would not happen again,” he said.

In a related development, scores of residents of Bodija in Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State on Wednesday evening were rendered homeless as flood destroyed their property estimated at millions of naira.

The flood was as a result of downpour witnessed across the state capital.

Buildings located in three streets in Bodija were mostly affected.

The streets include Oyesola, Alhaji Akande and Major Salawu.

No fewer than 16 houses and 12 shops were affected by the flood.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government has set up a committee to find a lasting solution to the perennial flooding.

The Chief Press Secretary to Ogun State Government, Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abeokuta on Wednesday, said the group, which was headed by the Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on Infrastructure, Mr. Kehinde Osikoya, also has the Chief Executive Officer of Sparklight Estate, Mr. Toyin Adeyinka, a representative of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority and an expert consultant on deflooding as members.

He said the group, which had been directed by Governor Gbenga Daniel to study the causes of the flooding and come up with a final solution had commenced work.


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