New life for flood victims
Still missing their old homes, relocated Ajegunle flood victims pick up pieces of their lives
AS he looked around the new camp at what is now their new home, Abayomi Afolabi was relieved.
Though he and the others had come to love their homes at Owode-Ajegunle along Ikorodu Road, they had no alternative than to flee on account of the ravaging flood, which had destroyed their property and threatened their lives.
As he looked around the new Resettlement Camp at Agbowa, on the outskirts of Ikorodu, he also felt a sense of gratitude to the Lagos State government for not abandoning them to face the arduous task of relocating from the dangerous floodwaters, all on their own.
“When the government said we should relocate, we thought it was a joke as none of us imagined abandoning our homes, though the flood was really posing grave danger to our lives.
“We thank Governor Babatunde Fashola for not abandoning us to carry the burden alone.
“The place is strange and it is not going to be easy, but at least, we are safe here, ” he told The Guardian.
Indeed, as activities begin to wind down in the flood-stricken areas of Owode, Agiliti and Ajegunle, things are picking up in the camp at Agbowa, which is managed by the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) and where about 420 persons have arrived.
When The Guardian visited the camp, it was learnt that those in the camp were entitled to three square meals a day. They are allocated four to a room, two each on a double-deck metal bed fitted with mattress and sheets.
There is also a stand-by generating set, an ambulance service with a medical crew as well as drugs for the residents of the camp.
But although they were grateful to the government, some said they still missed their homes, whether it was ravaged by flood or not.
One of the people, Mrs. Mary Nweke, said: “The government has done so well by providing thic accommodation for us but for women like us, there is nothing like home.
“In your own house, you are free to do what you like, cook your own food and eat as you like.
But here, you queue for food and other things.”
Afolabi, whose home on Unity Street, Ajegunle, was almost submerged, said: “Well, water has taken over everywhere in my area and I had no option than to come here.
“We thank God that the Lagos State government has provided this accommodation for us. Initially, I was not interested in coming because I thought the place would be like a refugee camp in Oru in Ogun State.
“ But a friend told me on phone that the place was good. And since I arrived, I found it so, though I miss my old home.”
Yet, another resident at the camp, who preferred anonymity, said: “I am a community leader and civil servant and my home is in Kiokio area of Ajegunle.
“ This place is very nice but there is need for constant water supply so that the people will not damage the modern facilities provided by the government.
“Another thing is that the officials should be well-orientated because they shout at people, which should not be. They should be patient as most of us are responsible family men.”
The Camp Commandant, Ganiyu Wewe, told The Guardian he hoped the camp would serve the purpose for which government set it up.
“We are trying our best to see that we meet the people’s needs. The government has provided all the facilities they would need. What they do is that immediately any of them arrives, he or she is registered at the gate before being provided with the necessary things.”
The Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Emergency Management, Michael Akindele told The Guardian the government had tried to provide for the basic necessities of life for people in the camp.
“There is a stand-by 60-seater-bus to convey the flood victims daily from Irawo Bus Stop in Ajegunle to the camp.
“Right now, we have about 420 of them here already registered. Perhaps, before the end of today, they will be up to 500.
“Everything they would use here is catered for by the government. There are foods, drinks, drugs and other things as well as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and ambulance service. There is also a stand-by generating set to complement the public electricity supply and for pumping of water when there is power outage.
“What they have to understand is that we cannot be running the generator for 24 hours.
“Some of them thought it was a joke and refused to come but when they started receiving phone calls from their neighbours about the facilities here, they started coming.”
Meanwhile, activities are gradually winding down in the Ajegunle, Agiliti and Owode communities following the ravaging flood and the gradual relocation of victims to Agbowa.
When The Guardian went round the area, all the schools had closed due to flood as classrooms, desks and other equipment had been submerged. Those who still managed to live in their houses went around in canoes.
On the highway, stories of pain and delays continued as motorists spend as many as four hours at the same spot.
This, of course, has led to brisk businesses by hawkers on whom stranded motorists depend for snacks, mineral drinks and such other items.
An already bad traffic situation was compounded when a trailer fell along the stretch of road blocking the road further, forcing motorists to go through Ogijo to Shagamu to link up Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.