Residents of Denro-Ishasi Road in Akute area of Ogun State are among those that dread rainfalls – and the reason is not farfetched. In the past several weeks, the Akute- Denro-Ishasi road, which is one of the routes leading to the very popular Berger in Lagos State, has experienced flooding.
The flooding has affected some residents, especially those living close to where the ongoing road project is going. It has also led to shutting down of shops, thereby negatively impacting sources of livelihood. Work on the road, which requires a bridge to save the residents and make transportation easier, recommenced in the last week of August 2021, after being abandoned by successive governments for years.
One of the residents, Mr. Oluwatominsin Kolawole, said the road project has made life a living hell for them, especially for people working in Lagos State.
This particular set of people now pay extra on transportation because of the poor state of the road. According to him, the rains do not just cause flooding; it also creates emergency employment for some people. Once the flooded roads become impassable, these people will bring out canoes, charging passengers, in order to take them across the flooded area to the dry ‘shore’.
Kolawole said: “The flood is affecting workers, transporters and students. Transporters have taken advantage of the flooded roads to increase transportation fares, which is not convenient for commuters. We need the government’s intervention, now, more than ever before because schools have resumed. I cannot imagine my younger sister who goes to school in Lagos State passing through that water every day.”
The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun sometime in April this year, came to inspect the axis and had made promises. He reportedly said: “My administration will ensure the project is completed and residents will live happily, without fear of floods again.”
The governor had further promised that the project would be beneficial and of great importance to residents of nearby communities. He also mentioned that the road will be the fastest route getting to neighbouring Lagos State.
However, as the residents continue to wait for the completion of the project, refrains of lamentations have become their daily sing-song. Some residents said that the flooded road has been stressful for them, forcing them to choose alternative routes. Commuters, who cannot afford to pay for the canoes, pull up their wrappers or roll up trousers,
remove their shoes and waddle through the water. Another resident, Mr. Adeyemi Oluwatobi, said: “The flood comes annually and frequently. Most times, it is worse when the ‘dam’ is opened.
If there is water coming from the dam, it affects the bridge, whereas the bridge is not well constructed for the water to pass through. The flood causes a lot of damage. Motorcycles, which are one of the easiest means of transportation for people, usually break down.”
Those making brisk business and money from the situation are believed to be ‘Omo Onile,’ otherwise known as ‘owners of the land.’ However, they are basically touts and profiteers of desperate situations.
Adeyemi said: “Those living in that environment are suffering from malaria. If there’s stagnant water, of course such an area will breed mosquitoes and attract reptiles like snakes. I also fear for those wading through the water.
There is sharp granite beneath. It’s not safe!” Mr. Emmanuel Okereke is a resident of Amodu Crescent in Akute, working in Lagos State. He said: “Now, if you want to pass through Denro to Berger, you first of all have to take a motorcycle to the flooded area which is N100, and then make use of the canoes, which is another N100.
Again, you have to take another motorcycle of N100 to your final destination. This is not cheap, and I can’t blame those who make use of alternative routes, which is Alagbole- Akute road. It’s not everyone that can face the stress of passing through, ‘the pit latrine flood.’
“Taking Akute route to Berger is not my favourite route, because before the flood problem, if I didn’t take a motorcycle, I could easily wait for a shuttle or tricycles to Berger which cost N100. I strongly feel the government needs to work on that axis. My main concern now is the students going to school from Akute to Berger.
They are forced by the situation to take that route and it’s dangerous for them.” Mrs. Adeleke Alimot, a trader whose daughter Zainab attends Community High School at Ojodu Abiodun, said: “The situation requires urgent attention.
The population of people who pass through Denro is much, and only those who are interested make use of the canoes. I’m really scared of making use of the canoe. Transportation fare is now twice the normal price.
When you take into account the money spent on transportation, feeding and school fees, you’ll know what it means. Our government was advising us against the COVID- 19 pandemic, but the flooded road is another way people can contract the virus.
What measures have the government put on ground to ensure the flood doesn’t cause disease for the people wading through it to get to their destinations?”
Alimot further stated: “My daughter will stop going to school if the water doesn’t recede, or if plank bridges are not constructed for pedestrians. I will not ask my daughter to go if measures are not taken.
It will be a horrible experience if the flood carries away my daughter. Seeing my daughter alive is better than getting the news that the flood swept her away.
Our government doesn’t know exactly what to do. If they really want to construct the road, it shouldn’t be during the rainy season.”
Alimot’s daughter, Zainab, 14, said: “I have always entered the canoe since I was in junior secondary school (JSS1). I’m now in senior secondary school (SS1).
That is how it has always been. I want this to stop so that I can leave home with a rest of mind, not that I will have to be thinking of how to cross the water to the other side of the road.”
Zainab said that the state government should do something fast concerning the road. Miss Model Deborah, a worker with the Federal Road Safety Commission, said: “I defeated hydrophobia and I started taking a canoe every day. I remembered the first day I waded through the water.
It almost got into my private part, and I only waded into it because there was no canoe. Our church member fell into the water on his way to church on Sunday. Also, my colleague in the office, Hannah, fell into the water because there was no canoe available.
She lost two of her phones, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, identity card, key and N6,000. The worst part is that the water smells. Governance is not about demolishing people’s houses or making gutters; the main concern should be the bridge.”
Mrs. Alle Ijaodoro, a resident of Estate Street, said that she would never forget the day she walked through the water when she was going to Berger for a vigil. She said: “I entered the flooded road that night and when I got to my destination, I had to use Dettol and soap to wash thoroughly. It’s very dangerous entering the canoe.
People used to fall from the canoe into the water, which is why I decided to walk through it, instead of taking a canoe. Now, I have to take the route, which is expensive, and traffic jams didn’t let me get home until after two hours.
A journey, which is not more than 20 minutes on a normal day, now takes two hours. The government should come to our aid by building an overhead bridge in which the water can pass under.”
Incidentally, a contract for this road was awarded in 2013 by the administration of Ibikunle Amosun but the joy of the people was dashed five years later when the contractor abandoned the project saying the government was owing him N500 million.