Flooding: Tension in Abuja FCDA to pull down houses · Lokogoma residents: ‘compensation first or nothing’
After the 2017 tragic incident that claimed a family of three in Lokogoma district of Abuja, a 17 year old boy, who was identified as Tuesday Bala, lost his life after a heavy downpour that led to River Kabusa overflowing its banks and submerging several houses.
Also, several other parts of the territory witnessing heavy flooding with residents trapped in their premises for several hours.
Speaking specifically on the Lokogoma tragedy, the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, has declared Lokogoma as a ticking time bomb if urgent steps are not taken to redress the annual flooding in the area.
Speaking to our correspondent at the scene of the latest flooding, director of Engineering Services of the FCDA, Engr. Ahmed Hadi, confirmed the death of the 17 year old who was drown after the heavy downpour.
Hadi, who was represented by Engr. Ferdinand Ezeoha, deputy director of the engineering department, revealed that the issue of flooding has not been solved in Lokogoma district, stressing that the whole waterways have been taken over with buildings, retaining walls and undersized culverts.
The director also revealed that the FCT Administration has procured a contract that will bring permanent solution to the flooding in the area, adding that the contract is captured in the 2019 budget.
He confirmed that most of the structures on waterways are built without approval, revealing that such structures would be pulled down.
According to him, "In August 2017, the whole of Lokogoma was flooded in three locations and a family of three lost their lives. We were called upon as the authority to intervene so we did some palliative works with some of them still standing.
"The issue of flooding has not yet been solved. At the first location where we entered from, we were able to solve it because we did some emergency work there, but the other two locations which this one is part of it, we just did some palliative work to contain it.
"Incidentally, what is causing this flooding is the issue of the construction ways, right in front of me here is the alignment of River Kabusa, but if you look at what is happening here the whole place has been occupied with buildings, retaining walls and undersized culverts. The only thing the people have to know is that Lokogoma is a ticking time bomb.
"And when you do that to the waterways it will be narrowed and the result will be erosion because the speed will increase and start eroding whatever its meet on the way. Presently, the government is procuring a contract that will solve the problem permanently. The contract is under procurement and before the year runs out, they will be able to complete it".
Speaking on the palliative measures to be taken before contractors mobilize to site, he said "we are going to do some alignment and fortify the waterways by putting borders so that the effect of the storm can be reduced".
He further said, "The major cause of this problem is that residents have built on the waterways. We have to interface with them and from there we take it up.
"But definitely, these structures have to give way. I cannot give you the figure, but there are so many houses that will give way. In this location, if you just look back, you will be able to pick some, down there you will be able to pick some. When we do the actual survey, the way it is and from the original master plan of this area and place it, you will be able to pick out the exact structures that are involved".
In his reaction, the chairman of Lokogoma District Residents Association, Dr. Joseph Nnorom, said the authorities of FCT Administration should be blamed for whatever that has happened in the district, warning that before demolition of any structure, the issue of compensation should be put in the front burner.
"It is unfortunate to see the tragedy loss of lives and property in this area due to flooding. We commensurate with the families of those who their loved ones. However, I want to stress here that no developer in this area is a squatter or off-shooter.
"Somebody somewhere gave them approval to develop these property that blocked the waterways. The issue that we must address therefore is that of compensation before the relevant authorities will pull down any structure. People must be made to pay for their mistakes," he stressed.
Another resident, who is the chairman of residents Ipent 5 Estate, Mr. Dauda Kewa, said despite the ministerial directive to clear the waterways, the construction works have not been fully achieved.
"When this incident happened in 2017 that led to the deaths of some residents, we visited the former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, then in his office. He gave an order that the road should be rehabilitated immediately. The Lokogoma junction and our own road. We have seen that the Lokogoma junction is completed after one year now, but we don't know what is happening to our own road".
Kewa claimed that residents of the estate have contributed over N6 million to create alternative route to the city, adding that each household contributed N150,000.
"Each house contributed N150,000 so we could create an alternative road, but when the heavy downpour of that year came it carried the bridge and all that we tried to construct. We sunk in about N6 million to that project. Last year again, we raised some money about N30,000 each to cast and elevate the culverts but gradually water is eroding the construction we made," Kewa lamented.
Lamenting on the hardship they have faced as a result of the road, Kewa said "whenever it rains, we have to stay back in our homes for about 4 to 5 hours before going out or if you are outside you remain there too. That is our fate in this estate".
He added that two Sundays ago four commercial motorcyclists fell into the canal but luckily no life was lost, their motorcycles was recovered the next day. "I personally assisted in helping them pull out their bikes from the canal on my way out."