Communities in Isheri, in Lagos and Ogun states, yesterday cried out over what they described as the destruction of their homes as a result of recent floods which displaced residents and property owners in Isheri North Estate, Riverview Estate and other adjoining areas.
The communities blamed the flood on indiscriminate release of water from Oyan Dam by the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA).
Members of the communities, at a press conference yesterday, said they had been displaced for the past four weeks, while valuables, which cost they said cannot be quantified, had been lost. They called for the intervention of the federal government.
The communities recalled that a two-day stakeholders’ summit the Lagos State government organised in 2017 had recommended that water should be released from the dam in November, December, January, February, March and up to July, as was done in the 1990s.
According to them, during those years, the OORBDA management did not release water in August, September and October and there was no flood.
The Chairman, Riverview Estate and Stakeholders’ Association, Mr Yomi Akinde, flanked by other Isheri community stakeholders and property owners, alleged that the OORBDA ignored the recommendation, which, he said, caused flooding in 2018.
Akinde insisted that going by historical data, the Oyan dam can be operated without causing floods in Lagos and Ogun states.
The OORBDA had once explained that it released water from the dam due to excessive rainfall in order to stabilize the dam.
But yesterday, the communities countered that the authority did not provide accurate figures of rainfall to warrant the release of the water, saying the area had experienced even more rainfall in the past without flood.
According to them, the “mismanagement of the dam” was responsible for the flood experienced this year. They said this was the worst flood the communities had ever experienced.
The spokesperson of the communities argued that contrary to the claim that house owners in the affected areas built on flood plain, the flood problem actually arose because water was not being released at the right time, adding that the reservoir was instead being used as a fish pond.
He also said property owners in the area bought lands from Lagos and Ogun states with their certificates of occupancy issued by the appropriate authorities.
“We want to put it on record that Ogun and Lagos state governments sold and put us out of possession of our lands. We are not land grabbers or speculators,” Akinde said.
The Chairperson, Isheri North GRA, Mrs Funmilola Bisiriyu, said more than 500 families were displaced in the area, adding, “We don’t have potable water. We buy water. There are no roads in the estate. We bought our transformers, yet we pay tax and pay land use charge.”
The OORBDA Public Relations Officer, Saliu Adeniyi, responding to our enquiries, said, “We released water three years ago and last year, but there was no flooding. But this year, there was a warning that there would be more rainfall. Even at that, we have been releasing water since May this year when there was no rain to create vacuum in the reservoir.
“The cause of the flooding this year is just the increase in rainfall as predicted. It is not that OORBDA is causing the flood. The ocean is full and the Lagos State government has confirmed that. My Managing Director has addressed the issue severally. I don’t know the stress of the communities. They have bought land and built on the flood plain, which is the main cause. Those places they built houses on are not supposed to be where they should have built on.”