- Water-tight security in Kano •7 churches, 8 shops razed - Police
- Terror suspect nabbed with N3m •As army uncovers bomb factory
- 2012, deadliest year for journalists - UN
- Court adjourns on missing N12.4bn oil windfall
- Why we cleared Molete under-bridge - Oyo govt
- Court jails courier over $286,400 cash
- Court rejects fridge repairer’s plea to keep Ibori’s bribe money
- Oyo to involve artisans in N.5bn schools rehabilitation contracts
- All set for LG poll today in Benue
- Mrs Braithwaite buried amid encomiums
- Forget presidency, Jonathan’s aide tells ex-military rulers
- FG sends delegation to Onaiyekan’s consecration, Suntai
Clearing Drainages Needs Pragmatic Action, Not Grammar –– Akintola
Professor Festus Akintola, Professor of Geography, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State speaks on the impending rains that may yet wreak another havoc after last year August’s floods in Ibadan and other parts of Oyo State, concluding that the people and the Oyo State government may not have learnt any lesson from the 2011 disaster going by their inertia.
What’s your opinion on erection of telecommunication mast in residential areas?
Storms can bring them down if they are not firmly rooted and you know it can be devastating. The higher you are, the less stable you become. Anything erected that is not firmly built on the ground will definitely crumble when storm comes. The Chinese have the tallest and strongest buildings in the world which are well-designed. Cocoa House is still standing while bungalows are crumbling. The former was well designed while the latter was not.
After last year August floods in Ibadan, do you think people and the government have learnt any lesson from the incident?
Yes, they have learnt a lot. But Lagos, in particular, has learnt a lot. Lagos is doing a lot of magnanimous things. One, rainstorm alone is not the only cause of flood. It’s conveyance out of the place is the main issue. So, when we have blocked drainages, there will be flooding. When gutters are filled up with solid waste, water will not be able to pass through to major canals and hence, flooding. In Lagos, gutters and drainage ways are cleared everyday. We read that in Oyo State, N133 million will be spent to clear the drainage ways in Ibadan. They also mentioned their plans to dredge some rivers. I don’t know if they are already doing it now. If I had my way, I would tell them the river channels they should dredge. They need an expert to teach them on which drainage should be cleared or widened for water to flow. There should be a comprehensive survey of which and which river should be cleared through the use of direct labour.
With the way things are going in Oyo State, do you think Ibadan is prepared to avert another flooding this year?
Well, not all the areas that are flood-prone have been covered in the N133 million set aside for the dredging of streams and canals. Not all the streams and rivers in Ibadan have been earmarked for clearing. For instance, the Orogun waterways and the one around Old Airport area should be cleared. The one from Ashi down to the tributaries at Ikolaba should be cleared. At General Gas, there is a river there that should be cleared including the one at Akobo. It is blocked with wastes and weeds, and so should be cleared. Government should also control the wind velocity by trimming trees that are about 40 metres to the roads. This will prevent them from falling on houses and other structures.
After the floodings, some structures were earmarked for demolition. Till date, the structures are still standing while some are being inhabited by people. What do you have to say?
Well, if they are yet to be pulled down, that is not good enough. There are some of them that obstruct drainages that should be demolished. Then for their own safety, because of nearness to flood plains, it’s in their interest to move away from such houses. Constructions that are actually blocking waterways should be identified and removed immediately.
Nature waits for no one. Once you identify them, you had better clear them on time. There are structures of high priority, medium priority and low priority. They should be grouped under this and cleared appropriately.
Concerning the first major flood in Ibadan that occurred in 1978, I was among the few people that identified the buildings that were actually obstructing flow. We made a report to the government then and they just thanked us and kept them somewhere. So, when the 1980 Ogunpa flood came, they came back to us and asked for the buildings to demolish and we told them to go back to our report. Then within three weeks they removed all the buildings there. In Lagos, that is what they are doing. They look at a bridge or building and if it’s obstructing water flow, they are cleared, removed and rebuilt accordingly. Same should be done in Ibadan.
With the presence of people like you, how come flood was able to wreck havoc in U.I last year?
Flood does not respect anyone anywhere. Once you block the way of nature, it will backfire. There are some floods that when they occur, they will normally flood. That of 1980 flood was one in 1,000 years interval flooding. Because it was seven inches of rains in one and a half hours. You don’t expect that type to occur every year. That of last year was around one point something inches. In U.I, some of the trees that are old should be cut down. In U.I, fishes being reared by the Department of Fishery in front of Independence Hall were swept away. There is nothing anybody can do about it.
The irony of everything is that human beings hardly believe that flood can occur again. If you tell them to move away based on the studies being carried out, they will tell you, it won’t occur again. After 24 hours, they would have forgotten they were being rehabilitated. That “it will not occur again” is often the undoing of the people. For economic reason and others, they resist moving away to another location. Floods have recurrent intervals. Truly, flood may not occur in the next 10 years and probably in a lifetime and for this, people will say it will not occur again. But one day, it will occur and lives and property will be swept away.
You said earlier that the Oyo State government did not do enough consultations before arriving at which streams and rivers to dredge. How do you mean?
When you want to tackle a problem, you don’t just assemble anybody. Because number one, you can underdo or overdo it. There is no reason you have intellectuals in U.I here, you have engineers in town, and you cannot bring them together and let them advise you on which rivers and drainages to clear. If you go to them to advise them without being invited, it will be as if you are looking for money. The government who wants to spend about N133 million on clearing waterways should make enough consultations before embarking on such projects. They should seek experts’ advice on what to do. Clearing waterways is no big deal that should be politicised or make noise about.
They talked about Olororo and Ajibode rivers in Ibadan and Odo Ogba in Iseyin. But there is another river before the Odo-Ona river that is blocked. Sometimes, the smaller rivers cause more problems than the main ones.
Lagos State has assembled 57 resident civil engineers to monitor floodings in their domains which is a welcome development. But not so in Ibadan. They also made their telephone lines available to the public to report any flooding or drainage issues to them for quick actions. Such is not happening in Ibadan here. Lagos is more pragmatic and direct in it’s dealings with environmental issues and preparation for rains. But here, we delay.
The rains are already here and they’ve not started clearing the drainages and waterways. Shouldn’t they have started earlier before the rains come calling? Clearing gutters does not involve grammar. The bridge at Secretariat Road needs a boxed bridge that is raised high for the large volume of water that comes down from Ikolaba to pass through. The one there now is a product of poor design. In developed countries, you have engineers who are constantly in charge of the maintenance of bridges.
Page 32 of 65