Residents of Lekki, Victoria Island and Ikoyi in Lagos have launched a collaborative effort to save arguably Africa’s most prime real estate enclave from flooding, ‘FEMI ASU writes
Jolted by the recent massive flooding caused by torrential rains, residents of Lekki, Victoria Island and Ikoyi have formed a coalition to pressure the government to enforce compliance with its drainage master plan, among others.
They said the collaboration followed a series of failed efforts aimed at forestalling the floods, which damaged properties, left many residents stranded in their homes, while others had to flee their houses to hotels and friends’ homes on the mainland.
“In September 2016, we wrote the government that rain was coming and that we should do something about our drains because the primary drain was completly blocked. We didn’t get any response,” the Chairman, Lekki Residents Association, Prof. Olumide Ajose, said at a joint press conference on Friday.
He indicated that the residents in the zones were ready to contribute money to do the secondary drainages so that they could flow into the primary drain, which would then flow into the lagoon.
The Chairman, Victoria Garden City Property Owners and Residents Association, Mr. Olusegun Ladega, stated that after conducting a study to find out the causes of the flooding in their estate, “we realised that we were a basin receiving waters from other areas on account of the failure and non-functioning of a lot of the drainage systems in that area.”
“We had water cascading from off the road towards us because the highway itself that was constructed was not equipped with a collector drain,” he added.
Ladega noted that Ikoyi and VI were shut down by floods on July 10, 2011, but the scope of what was experience in July 2017 was wider and horrendous.
“I fear to think of what will happen if there is to be another five-year circle, and there have been a lot more developments and uncoordinated activities going on. It could probably be worse,” he stated.
According to him, the causes of flooding include the distortion of the drainage master plan; lack of maintenance of the drainage structures; the inability of the critical ministries of environment, waterfronts, and physical planning and urban development to work together; and sand filling of lagoons and oceans.
He said, “There was a sand filling activity that started some years back on the original route of the natural water course that forms part of the southern boundary of the VGG. The moment this started, we began to discuss with the state; we wanted to know what was happening. At a point, we got an injunction to stop this work.
“The injunction has been vacated and they have started working now. This is a drainage channel identified in the state’s drainage master plan as the Lekki System 158. Now, there is a construction there.”
According to Ladega, a drainage channel in Lekki Phase I has become a piece of solid land.
“The state’s failure to enforce compliance with its own master plan is the number one source of the problem,” he said.
He urged the state government to put on hold all sand filling activities across the state “until environmental impact assessment reports are made available and subjected to independent scientific reviews.”
Ladega added, “We are also saying that the state must enforce the original drainage master plan and the 2010 Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law, which is very clear with regards to drainage, water percolation, etc.
“There should be a watchdog committee set up, involving the private and public sectors, to monitor the state of all municipal infrastructure, including drainages, waste collection, roads and others that are critical to reducing the flood menace.”
He stressed the need to maximise the capacity of existing drains as both reservoirs and transport medium for wastewater, and repair or reconstruct those that had suffered structural damage.
According to him, drainages are filled up with silt and about 75 per cent of their capacity is lost around the city.
Ladega stated, “We pay the highest rate of land use charge in Lagos State. If we are as a cash cow when it comes to collection of property tax, we should have a commensurate level of protection from the state as well as provision of facilities.
“By estimate, over $1tn has been invested in real estate in this zone, and if we are not careful, the fate that befell the Lagos Island CBD can befall this region of Lagos. Billions of dollars are wasting away on the Lagos Island. It can easily be the turn of this premium residential district of Lagos if action is not taken.”
According to him, the Central Business District of Lagos used to be the most prime real estate in the whole of Africa, with the most expensive pieces of land per square foot.
Ladega noted that any corporate body that was worth its salt was located either on Broad Street or along the Marina.
He said, “Go to Lagos Island today, most of those purpose-built high-rise office buildings are empty. The environmental issue they had then was law and order and public sanitation.
“Now, we have a situation here where we have law and order issue, because people are building without obeying the laws; we have a sanitation issue because the municipal facilities are not being maintained and it is now threatening to sack all of us from our properties.”
The Vice Chairman, Parkview Residents Association, Mr. Wole Okunfulure, said the residents had been experiencing flooding for the past eight years.
“Whenever it rains, the Lagos State side of Parkview is completely cut off for the next four hours. We contacted the state government on so many occasions during the reign of Governor Babatunde Fashola,” he stated.
He said Fashola gave the estate a pumping station that pumps water from the canal straight into the lagoon, adding, “There is a generator there and we provide the diesel to power the station. But that is not enough.
“The issue is that from the newly constructed dual carriageway along Gerald Road and all that axis; Julius Berger was responsible for the construction of that road; they channelled the major drain through our own drain in Parkview, and you can imagine all the drainage water on that dual carriageway finding its way through our own drainage system.
“The volume of water is just far in excess of what our drainage system can handle. So, when it rains, within 30 minutes all the drains are full to over spilling and it knocks off the entire estate.”
The Estate Manager, Osborne Foreshore Estate Phase II, Ikoyi, Lt.-Col. Philip Ansa (retd), said a building was pulled down on Thursday in the estate on the order of the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, who was invited to witness the flood in the estate on July 8.
He explained, “Somebody was given approval to build, and he built right to the edge of the water. I was there at the site on Thursday when it was pulled down; there were arguments between the people from the ministries of Physical Planning and Urban Development and those from Environment.
“Osborne II happened to be a Federal Government-initiated estate, and that has become a big problem for us because you go to Lagos State, they will say, ‘Go to federal.’ You go to federal, they will say, ‘We don’t want to confront Lagos State.’”
Ansa noted that Dolphin Estate had serious problems of flooding sometimes ago and approval was sought to construct a temporary canal to de-flood the estate.
He said, “Now, that temporary canal has become a source of problem to Osborne. There’s a natural canal that the Federal Government reconstructed two years ago. But to link it to the one constructed by Lagos State from Dolphin, we have written series of letters and nobody is ready to bell the cat and give the approval.
“Opposite us, we have an ongoing sand filling of an island, right across Osborne II. We are hopeful that the attention that is being called to these happenings will be a wake-up call for the government to rise up and do what is expected of them.”
Last week, the Lagos State Government ordered owners of properties erected on drainage channels and impeding the free-flow of water to immediately vacate or risk being removed.
It said the massive investment of public funds in drainage clearing and de-silting had been compromised by structures hindering the free-flow of water.
The government, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, expressed dismay that the lawless activities of some people were constantly putting the lives and property of residents at risk.
Some of the areas listed include Ilubirin, Dolphin Estate, Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Osapa London, Ikota, Ogombo, and Lekki, among others.