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Flooding: Worries over indiscriminate dumping of refuse

Indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainage channels by residents is fueling flooding in Lagos metropolis despite government’s efforts to combat the deluge. DAYO AYEYEMI reports

 

As of today, record has it that Lagos state generates over 12,000 metric tonnes of solid wastes daily. Efforts have been made over time by government to ensure that the wastes are well disposed by residents, collected and managed very well by the agencies in charge in order not to ensure safer and cleaner environment.

 

However, there is compromise by some residents as they are in the habit of disposing their wastes indiscriminately in open drainage channels and canals, thereby frustrating the efforts of the state government to control disasters in the metropolis during heavy downpour.

 

From Mushin to Surulere, Bariga, Aguda, Idi Oro, Mile 11, Ketu, Abule Egba, Mile 12 and Lagos Island, among others, solid waste clogs the drainage channels, inhibiting free flow of storm water. Some of these wastes are in the forms of plastics, papers, glass, metals and biodegradable materials. Raising the alarm over indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainage channels and the dangers involved, at the weekend, Commissioner for the Environment in Lagos State, Mr Tunji Bello, warned residents to desist from the bad habit.

 

The warning, he said, had become imperative going by the prediction from the Nigeria Meteorological Service (NIMET) that there would be heavy rainfalls in September and October, which could increase flooding in the metropolis.

 

According to him, NIMET had earlier warned that the state would experience rainy season of 240 -270 days, while maximum annual rainfall is predicted to be 1,750mm. The latest, he disclosed, was that the management of Oyan Dam, the Ogun Osun River Basin Authority, had also signaled its readiness to commence staggered release of water to ensure the stability of its dam.

 

He said the management had indicated readiness to release 18 million cubic meters of water in September and 23 million cubic meters in October, having released five million cubic meters in July and eight to 10 million cubic meters in August. Bello said he was using this period to reawaken residents’ consciousness of what lies ahead in the months of September and October in terms of rainfalls and reinforced additional measures government put in place to prevent or minimise the incidence of flash flood in the state.

 

Justifying reasons Lagos State would be more affected by flooding as a result of increased rainfalls, Bello explained that while states like Ogun and Ekiti suffered from urban and river flooding, Lagos suffers coastal, urban and river flooding because of the peculiarity of its location.

 

Refuse dumps Regrettably and despite several warnings at different fora and medium, Bello said some members of the public were not in sync with the state government on the matter of keeping the drainage channels free of refuse and silts, but have been dumping all manners of wastes including plastics, tyres and rubbers into drainages already cleared to allow for easy movement of water.

 

Bello bemoaned indiscriminate dumping of refuse on drainage channels by residents in some locations such as Idi Oro, Olosha in Mushin, LUTH Idi Araba and Isaga, noting that most of the water channels already cleaned and tons of solid refuse excavated have been littered again by some recalcitrant members of the public.

 

Decrying the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the metropolis, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, and the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, also appealed to Lagos residents to stop dumping refuse in drains so as not to jeopardise on-going road repairs  the state.

 

They made the appeal during a joint inspection of alternative routes under rehabilitation toward the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for repairs. Popoola, during the inspection, called for speedy change of attitude toward drain stuffing causing flooding and quick road degeneration in the state.

 

He said: “We have gone round and seen many places. We started from Ojota, came down to Maryland; right here now we are at Abebe. The problem we have here is just the attitude of the residents.

 

“We saw the drains, they are all blocked with used tyres, papers and so many things that should not be there. “We are appealing to our people to change their attitude. Government is spending a lot of money to make sure that the roads are maintained but our people are not cooperating.

 

“There is no need to turn the drains into refuse cans. Please change your attitudes, otherwise the blockade will constitute a nuisance and the roads will continue to get spoilt on daily basis,’’ he said. On her part, Adeyoye decried the high rate of road infrastructure abuses. She decried the constant theft of manhole covers on the Eric Moore Road axis for over one kilometre stretch and using the open drains as refuse dumps.

 

“Those drainage structures are not for disposal of refuse and when they are blocked, in no little time the road will be affected, by storm water,’’ she said. Adeyoye wants urgent steps to be taken against scavenging activities in the state, noting that the burden was more on drains wherever there there are scavengers. Measures Bello said the ministry was taking steps to tackle the problem of refuse dumping frontally so that the drainage channels could effectively work.

 

“Let me inform you that the drainage channels in Bariga are not functioning at optimum capacity now largely because of the sand filling exercise carried out in the area in the immediate past. We are working to correct the situation so that normalcy can return,” the commissioner said.

 

Aside, he assured residents in some areas such as Aguda, Shomolu, Surulere, Oworonshoki and Idi Oro that government would soon move to their localities to work on their canals and drainage channels.

 

He said: “We are very instrusive about the drainage channels that are receiving attention, many of such channels have been cleaned and tons of solid excavated carted away. “Government also mobilise some of the contractors back to some of the drainage channels that have been cleaned up but littered again.” Enforcement

 

The commissioner for the environment warned those engaging in these unwholesome acts to desist, saying if they were caught, they would be prosecuted.

 

He said: “We will ensure they are dilligently prosecuted as we are already doing with some. “We have cleared instructions to all enforcement agents not to treat environmental and sanitation offenders with kid gloves anymore. “We are stepping up our drainage compliance enforcements to ensure that we remove all infractions after serving due notices on them.”

 

The steps have become imperative because of the increasing effect of climate change. Citing data provided by the Nigerian Hydrological Services, Bello said the month of June was usually the period of effective rainfalls and the beginning of a new Hydrological year in the River Niger Basin which covered nine countries namely: Benin, Burkina Fasso, Cameroun, Chad, Cote-D’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

 

He said: “The months of July, August, September and October are also known as JASO months signifying heavy rainfall, flooding and flood disasters in most parts of the country.

 

“The floods are often aggravated by the transboundary inflow of Rivers Niger and Benue from outside the country before they empty into the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria.” Last line Anyone arrested should be made to face the full weight of the law to serve as deterrent to others.

 

 

 

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