Any time the rainy season sets in, it becomes a cause of grave concern for Moses Benjamin, a house owner around Abattoir New Extension in Abaji Area Council, Abuja. He is daily filled with worry over the safety of his house, fearing it would be washed away in the impending flood.
“The major challenge we face during the rainy season is lack of access road to connect to the main road and drainage to carry water that flows from the market area and causes houses to collapse whenever there is a heavy downpour,” he said.
Benjamin is just one of the many residents whose houses sit precariously on flood proned area.
The chairman of the residents association in area, Mr Jethro Samuel, said some houses are already on the verge of collapse. He said about 14 houses were affected by floods in 2017 forcing several families to relocate from the area.
Benjamin said there is still an increase in the population of people in the area, as others moved in as quickly as others leave. The population explosion, he said, was heightened by the migration of people from neighbouring villages in Nasarawa State. He said the people mostly Bassa, Ganagana and Egbura left their communities during the crisis in 2001 to the area leading to increased human activities and building of houses, which at times encroach on farmlands.
He and other residents of Abattoir New Extension, are faced with perennial flooding which they said has led to loss of lives and property.
Abattoir New Extension, under Nuku-Sabon Gari ward in Abaji is located behind the major market in Abaji but accessing the area is difficult as erosion has washed away large portions of the road.
Benjamin said the influx of people into the area was made easy because of the low price of land. He said it was local farmlands which the indigenes sold at a cheap rate and people bought and built their houses on.
He, however, lamented that civil servants, traders and other residents trekked to and from their homes daily because the road is usually flooded and deplorable in the rainy season. “Driving on the road during or after a downpour could be suicidal. As such those with vehicles are forced to park them elsewhere.
He said lack of good access road is the major challenge faced by the residents. Benjamin, however, added: “At the extreme end of the river bank, you will see how houses have been built very close to the river, which tells you there is no more land left to build on. The houses are not well spaced, which I believe also contributes to this problem of erosion.”
Another resident, Abdullahi Yahaya, said the people sleep with one eye open, especially between July and August, when there are heavy and consistent rainfall. He said his mind was never at rest whenever it rained especially at night.
He said he sometimes created a water channel around his house to allow for easy flow of water in order to protect his house from being submerged.
“The problem is that some people built their houses on water ways, while others refuse to create a water channel. If the authorities want to intervene, some houses must be demolished but such house owners are not willing to let go of their homes,” he said.
The chairman of the residents association in area, Mr Jethro Samuel, said the residents resolved to call upon the area council authorities to come to their rescue because the situation gets out of control yearly. He lamented that the government has not done anything towards addressing their plight.
“An official in the council’s works department had told me that the chairman, Alhaji Abdulrahman Ajiya, has already written to the FCT minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, about it,” he however said.
Pending the intervention of government, he said residents have evolved some survival techniques which included parking their vehicles with friends and walking home.
“Yesterday, I had to park my car at a friend’s house very close to the market because erosion has destroyed the road that leads to my house,” Samuel said.
He also complained over lack of electricity in the area, saying the community has written to the council on the need to extend electricity to Abattoir New Extension, but that the appeal was yet to yield any positive result.
Reacting, the chairman of the council, Alhaji Abdulrahman Ajiya, blamed indiscriminate building of houses on erosion-proned areas as cause of the problem in the area, stressing that some people built their houses without allowing space for water channels.
He said it was unfortunate that residents of the community took advantage of farmlands to build houses without proper planning.
“Abattoir New Extension is one of the areas that is fast growing in terms of population, but those who started building houses in the area are responsible for the erosion problem. Majority of the houses are built on water channels. And that is why every year, we have incidents of flooding where houses and property are destroyed,” he said.
Ajiya said the council has commenced the construction of a road from Abaji Low cost to Abattoir for motorists and the people generally to move easily and access their homes.
“But on that of Abattoir New Extension, the council will write to the Satellite Towns Development Department to come to our aid in that regard,” he said.