Source: Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi
The Lagos and Ogun state governments are in talks to control water released from the Oyan Dam which has contributed to flooding in both states.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello, said the state government was in talks with the officials of the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority on the issue.
He explained that the rise in sea level had also contributed to the current flooding in many parts of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Dolphin, Oworoshoki and other parts of the state as the lagoon could not discharge water and had caused back flow into drainage outlets.
Hundreds of communities and estates in parts of Lagos and Ogun states have been submerged by flood, following heavy downpour as well as the opening of Oyan Dam.
Many communities around Ketu and Mile 12 areas in Lagos; and Akute and Warewa, as well as estates in and around OPIC in Ogun State have been flooded in the last one week.
As of Sunday afternoon, the flood water around Long Bridge, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, was almost overflowing.
Residents of the affected communities said it had become almost an annual occurrence for water to flood the areas from the Oyan Dam.
Oyan Dam is one of the tributaries of the Ogun River built for flood control as well as fishing, hydro power and irrigation.
A resident of one of the estates around OPIC told The PUNCH that many families had vacated their houses as the water level had continued to rise.
Environmentalists, who spoke with our correspondent, said a master drainage plan would address the frequent flooding in Lagos and Ogun states.
They noted that a master drainage would help clear flood water from communities whenever it rained.
They explained that the plan would be a broad engineering analysis of drainage system that would take into account standard design storm predictions, topography and land use.
An environmentalist, My James Uyime, said it would not only serve as a solution to flooding but also as mitigation against the effects of climate change.
The Managing Director, Ogun/Osun River Basin Development Authority, Mr Oluwafemi Odumosu, however, told The PUNCH that the water released from the dam was less than 10 per cent.
“Flooding does not necessarily have to be caused by opening of the dam. Of course, we have a dam on the Ogun River that we manage but there are other causes of flooding such as rainfall. We do normal scientific water releases; we don’t just release the water without generated data,” he said.
According to him, the water that goes into the dam is calculated and prevented from overflowing; hence the need for periodic opening.
He said, “It will be in our interest and that of everyone to open the dam from time to time; if we don’t do that, and the dam has so much water and overflows, there will be catastrophe. It will sweep away properties.
“In the downstream also, sometimes there will be too much rains in some areas but no rain around the dam; so, we don’t have to release water. In that case, it is water from the rain that causes the flooding.”
Odumosu said climate change had worsened the problem due to incessant rains, adding that “we should not be having too much rains at this time of the year.”
In agreement with other environmentalists, he said a master drainage plan from Ogun to Lagos would ensure that excess rain water would not have effects on people and communities.
A former Technical Adviser on Climate Change to the African Union Commission and distinguished fellow, Emergency Crisis Management Institute, Lagos, Dr Victor Fodeke, who also attributed flooding in recent times to climate change, said the government needed to be proactive.
“The government needs to tackle the issue of climate change and its effects proactively,” he said.
Fodeke lamented the failure of the government to listen to experts, adding that they had been talking but nothing seemed to have been done.
He stated that the best way to tackle the problem would be through mitigation, identifying the areas prone to flooding, clearing the drains, relocating people and channelling the flood water to areas where it would be needed later for aquaculture and other economic uses.
An environmental activist and founder, Lekki Urban Forest Animal Sanctuary Initiative, Mr Desmond Majekodunmi, said the issue of climate change had not been getting the attention it deserved in the country.
He said the government should be firm in addressing the issue.