For residents of Ajegunle community in the Agboyi/Ketu Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, life could hardly be tougher. Recurrent flooding occasioned by frequent downpour has rendered them homeless and hopeless.
With nowhere to run, they have had to seek shelter in disused and abandoned commercial buses from where they run petty businesses to feed and in which they sleep at night.
Both Agboyi/Ketu LCDA and Ikosi/Isheri LCDA are affected by the flood, but the former is the more affected.
When Newsbreak visited the near desolate area, canoes had taken over what used to be roads. Their operators were seen ferrying people to what is left of their homes, in many cases, half-submerged structures.
Two families were seen taking shelter in an abandoned bus dumped along Ikorodu Road in Agboyi/Ketu LCDA.
Silifa Adeyemi, a tailor and mother of three, said they cook, eat and sleep in the bus every night, as there is no other place to go. She also operates her fashion designing outfit from the vehicle.
“Eight of us: Me, my three children with my friend and her own three children sleep in this place. You can see my sewing machine here. It is the only thing we could rescue from our house. My friend’s family could not even pick anything.
“Some men sleep inside danfos too, some others sleep by the roadside.
“Look at those clothes; they are customers’, so I had to dry them by the walkway. There were some I could not recover. Flood swept them away,” she lamented.
For Abiba Salawu, a widow and mother of four, life has been slightly fairer on her. She told our correspondent that her children sleep in a small shop in Mile 12, about 800 metres from the community, while she uses another abandoned danfo as a makeshift canteen.
“Flood destroyed my shop and all the foodstuff I bought. I have four children to feed as a widow. The owner of the danfo allowed me to use it as a shop, while my children and I sleep in a small shop at Mile 12 every night,” she said.
Sunday Komolafe, a mechanic, said he and most of the men sleep on the walkway and any abandoned danfo every night. He revealed that many of them use cartons as mattresses on the sidewalks.
“Few people who still sleep in their houses raised their beds to like five feet high because of water. That is, those whose beds are not inside the flood already. But it is still not safe, because a woman died with her baby in their house,” he added.
It was also learnt that the flood killed five residents of the area. A nursing mother, with her baby strapped to her back, was said to have died with the baby after a wall, weakened by flood, fell on her two weeks ago.
Innocent Ozokwo, a resident, said their corpses were found after people noticed they had not been seen that morning.
John Kegbe, who said he has lived on Ifelodun Street in the community for almost 25 years, corroborated Ozokwo’s story. He said some men took a body, which washed up to the area, away in a canoe. He added that two more bodies had been found with a family claiming one while the other was buried by residents last Tuesday. A memorial service, according to him, was held for them on Wednesday.
Uche Samson, a father of two, told Newsbreak that three primary school children were swept away by flood on their way to school two weeks ago. He said the incident led to other schools being shut in the area.
Confirming the claim, Irawo Ogundimu, an Anglican reverend, said the Anglican Primary School, Odo Ogun, formerly owned by his church, has been shut. He said he pleaded with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to shut the school to avert any tragedy.
The clergyman also disclosed that hundreds of people come to the church to sleep every night, saying it is the only building that water has not entered in the whole community.
He lamented that only three church members, out of the usual 300, attended last Sunday’s service. He said the church provides shelter for hundreds of people, including those of other faiths.
Residents accused the state government of abandoning them to their plight.
Fiyin Omoshalewa, a resident, said the last time the government came to their aid was during the tenure of former Governor Babatunde Fashola. She said the government relocated some of them to Agbowa in the Ikorodu area of the state, giving them stipends until they could return to their homes.
Ayobade Samuel, a resident told Newsbreak that Agboyi/Ketu LCDA gave each street 360 planks to construct bridges over the flood. He lamented that the planks were not enough for both sides of the road.
Abdulfatai Oyesanya, Chairman of the Ikosi/Isheri LCDA, neither picked calls nor responded to text messages sent to his phone.
However, his Chief Press Secretary, Odufowokan Oluwaseyi, blamed the flooding on climate change. He said the chairman has provided what was within the power of the council for the people.
“The area you mention falls within Agboyi Ketu, you know Ajegunle area, the road divides Agboyi/Ketu and Ikosi/Isheri. But the case is peculiar to both sides.
“The executive chairman has tried within the available resources to make sure no life was lost again in that area because the CDA and CDC came to the council, they requested for funds and I think it was provided for them to do one or two things.
“In this period, it is climate change and we are doing a lot of sensitization, just for people to be very careful about flooding.
“But that is why I said we are doing a lot of sensitization to avert future occurrence. The environmental departments of both LCDAs are working day and night to ensure we don’t record deaths again”, he stated.
He said the residents refused to be relocated by the state government some years ago. He urged the remaining residents to leave the area.