Flooding is an annual battle within Ibadan metropolis as residents in many areas have to constantly combat with water invading their homes and destroying properties. As stakeholders step up efforts to curb incessant flooding, Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare reports that in spite of the recent flooding experience, the interventions have gone a long way in mitigating effects of water overflowing its banks.
For residents of communities like Kute, Olodo, Kumapayi, Farayola, Ajolongo, Elewuro, Bode Wasinmi, Baale quarters and other flood-prone areas of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, flooding is a constant occurrence during the rain season. Indeed, it is unusual not to experience flooding during heavy rains.
This was why the flooding incident that followed the downpour on Tuesday was not a strange phenomenon as it had always been known that any rain of such magnitude would result in flooding and most often, loss of lives and properties.
Although many of these vulnerable communities are usually affected as a result of rivers and streams overflowing their banks, many residents of these areas attested to the fact that the effect was not as devastating as they usually experienced even when the rain was not that heavy.
The communities attributed the change in their situation to the intervention efforts of the state government through the activities of the World Bank-sponsored Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP) which had been working in the communities to ensure no matter the volume of rain, flooding would not occur.
According to the residents, though there was flooding in some parts of the communities and many had to vacate their homes, no life was lost and this improvement in their situation they attributed to the recent dredging of rivers in their communities by the IUFMP.
Nigerian Tribune’s tour of the affected areas indicated that many of the streams and rivers around areas vulnerable to flooding and already tagged high-priority areas by IUFMP had been dredged in the last three weeks as part of proactive steps to reduce the effects of flooding.
How then did IUFMP’s intervention save the communities since many houses were still overrun by water and some properties destroyed? While taking stock of the extent of damages caused by flooding in their communities, the residents expressed appreciation that the effect was not as devastating as the one experienced in previous years due to the recent activities of IUFMP on flood plains in their communities.
Speaking on efforts that have been made, the executive secretary and project coordinator, Dayo Ayorinde, said the agency put in place structural and non-structural mitigation measures to ensure that 2020 will not record bad experiences of flooding in Ibadan, adding that the non-structural interventions included dredging of rivers and desilting of drains.
According to him, IUFMP flood mitigation measures involved dredging and desilting of 32 rivers and drains that were identified by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources with a total length of 60,150 metres. The sites were divided into three lots and awarded to two contractors, Fako-Fak Nigeria Enterprises and Sammich Construction Company Limited, and each lot assigned a supervising consultant for fast action, quality monitoring and seamless operations.
The identified sites that were dredged included Olorunsogo stream, Odeku stream, Oloro stream tributary, Odo Osun stream, Idi Osan stream, Fatosi stream, Isokan stream, Okewusi stream, YokelePekun stream, Bethel Estate stream, Ajidun river, Farayola stream, Alapata stream, Ajongolo stream, Basorun stream, Orukanga stream and Farinto stream.
Others are Adukanle stream, GbaroAjimosun stream, Moga stream, Alawaye stream, Shalom stream, Adeniran stream, Alaguntan stream, Ifesowapo stream, Dalegan River, Olami stream and OlopeWoroko stream, while blocked drains in priority and flood-vulnerable communities were also desilted.
Ayorinde emphasised that the effect of Tuesday’s downpour would have been worse if not for the timely interventions and dredging across the city.
His position was corroborated by some of the residents through their community representatives. Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the chairman of IfesowapoKute Landlords Association in Kute community of Lagelu Local Government Area, Pastor Akinyemi Olusegun Amos, stated that though many homes were affected in Kute area, they were still grateful that the intervention by the state government through IUFMP helped to mitigate the usual devastating effects.
Pastor Amos said: “We have been suffering from flooding for years. Indeed, it had always been devastating but this year, it is different. Though many homes were still affected and properties damaged, it is still better than previous experiences and we can only thank government and the agency that worked on the river. They just dredged this last month. If not for the dredging, this is not what we would have been saying; things would have been worse. I can say it was a timely intervention.
“We, however, also want to appeal to the government to help us find lasting solutions to this our problem because it seems all the water from Akobo and Akala Way is channelled towards our area here. Kute has two river sources and we always have problems during heavy rains. We appeal to government to also help dredge the other rivers so that we can have respite.
“We want to thank government for the care and effort. We are conscious of the fact that if not for the dredging activity on this river, things would have been more terrible than what we experienced. There are many people in Kute community and we always support government. The important thing is that that bridge that connects every community around here including Jenriyin and Anikute is a meeting point for water from many areas and the bridge is too small for the volume of water. Even with the dredging, the river still overflowed its bank.”
Nigerian Tribune gathered that these areas were known to be susceptible to flooding and they had been living with this challenge year in, year out. In most of the areas, houses were built on waterways while most construction activities didn’t make provision for drainage systems.
Speaking on the flooding incident, the chairman of the Oyo State House of Assembly Committee on Environment and Ecology, Honourable Olusola Adewale Owolabi, representing Ibadan North Constituency 2, who led his team including the Majority Leader, Honourable Sanjo Adedoyin from Ogbomoso, to the flooding sites said the recent dredging helped the state, and commended the IUFMP for a job well done.
“We have gone round and found that if not for the dredging that IUFMP has done in the past few weeks, the effects of [the recent] flooding would have been more devastating and it would have had more terrible effects on Ibadan and the state. We thank God for the government, World Bank and for IUFMP because they are doing a great job. It is when we moved round that we found that if not for IUFMP, things would have been more terrible. We also found that no life was lost; there was no casualty.
“The dredging being done by IUFMP is a continuous one and they are still on it but in those sites that we visited today, the five we saw today were executed well, though there is a site at Kumapayi where the dredging needs to be done again and widened because all that was done has been destroyed by flood,” he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Dr Bashir Olanrewaju, said: “We are fortunate to have started the dredging exercise. From some of the sites, you will discover that had we not done dredging on the rivers, by now, maybe we would have had casualties and fatalities because even with what we did, some rivers still overflowed their banks.
“We are fortunate that lives were not lost especially at Kumapayi. We discovered that the extent of the overflowing of the bank by the river was massive but the community leaders were still appreciating the government for dredging the river. The consultants, contractors and IUFMP team had done a very good job because they were thorough. I am saying that the dredging sites were well executed. We can only appeal to the contractors to do more and fast-track because NiMet already warned that there will be heavy rains, seven times higher than what Ibadan experienced in 2019.
“We are just going to the peak of the heavy rains. I appeal to the communities also that streams and drainage systems are not meant to be used as dump sites because it blocks water paths. Also, people should stop building on flood plains because that is tantamount to sitting on top of gun powder while at the same time playing with fire.”
The governor of the state, Mr Seyi Makinde, had also moved round to assess communities that were affected and noticed that many houses were built on waterways and many others were built without concession to flood plains. He noted that houses built on river banks without the required setbacks and those that are in the path of running water and/or blocking drainages would have to give way in order to provide lasting solutions to the issue of flooding.
The supervising consultants, R.A. Kumolu, Bola Olowe and David Oyesina, all engineers saddled with the responsibility of ensuring dredging is done to specification without causing additional problems, also confirmed that the dredging exercise was a measure that saved the state from calamity on Tuesday because the volume of rain and the constant overflowing of water would have wreaked untold havoc on the city.
Homeowners around Basorun stream, off Bode Wasinmi, expressed appreciation that the government was concerned about their welfare and took proactive steps before things got out of hand.
A representative, Wasiu Olona, said if not for the efforts, the story would have been different.
“We are aware that the dredging recently done here was the reason many of us could still sleep at home on Tuesday despite the heavy rain. We thank the government and we want them to continue so that we won’t have to abandon our homes as is the practice during the rain season,” he said.
It is obvious that the battle is not over if Ibadan will curb incessant flooding in its communities as a lot of structural adjustments are pending. And while the quest continues, all hands need to be on the deck to ensure waterways are not blocked.
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