Massive floods leave at least 20 dead in capital Lagos, Nigeria

Massive floods leave at least 20 dead in capital Lagos, Nigeria

At least 20 people have been killed after intense storms hit Nigeria's capital Lagos over the weekend, causing massive floods. While city officials blame the incident partly on indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainage channels, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria blames the “environmentally-unfriendly projects” by the state government along Lagos coastlines. Nigeria is currently at the height of its rainy season.

The floods ravaged parts of Victoria Island, Lekki, Ikoyi, Ajah, Oniru and adjoining suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city (population 15 million) and one of Africa's most populated. A large number of houses were submerged and residents trapped in their homes by rising flood water.

Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Abode said Monday that the state witnessed torrential rainfall which was quite unprecedented. "We have witnessed our most prime estates flooded with water, we have seen our roads taken over by floods, and we have painfully watched how many homesteads have literally become pools."

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center estimated southwest Nigeria, including Lagos, picked up generally 100 to 150 mm (3.9 to 5.9 inches) of rain between July 2 and 8, according to weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. 

Most of that appeared to have fallen on July 8, as an area of heavy rain stalled right over the heavily-populated city. Because of a high tide, rain-swollen rivers and streams could not drain fast.

Witnesses said eight members of a household were suspected to have died in the flood which affected Suleja and Tafa local government areas of Niger. The head of the household was said to have survived but his two wives and six children were not lucky, All Africa reports.

Mohammed Mohammed, the District Police Officer in-charge of Division 'A' Police station in Suleja, could not confirm the casualty figure but said his men had visited the flood scenes. "The flood affected many people who built their houses along the river bank; many houses have been destroyed with an unconfirmed number of deaths recorded Police are providing security around the scene so that hoodlums will not cart away victims' property especially those lying outside," he said.

Director General of Niger State Emergency Management Agency later said that 90 houses were destroyed, and at least 500 people were displaced. 

Extensive flooding in the Lekki and Victoria Island has been blamed on poor drainage systems and inadequate urban planning in the city. The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Babatunde Adejare, blamed the incident partly on indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainage channels and urged residents to desist from the act.

However, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, blames the “environmentally-unfriendly projects” by the state government along Lagos coastlines, especially the Lekki-Ajah axis. Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN deputy executive director, said the rains had exposed how dangerous experiments like the Eko Atlantic City project and unmitigated sand dredging along the Lekki and Ajah corridor for the ultimate pleasure of the wealthy could make life miserable for the residents.

On Tuesday, July 11, the management of a private mortuary, Toluwalase Hospital Morgue, located at Otunba Oladokun Street, in Igando area of Lagos State has ejected corpses deposited in the facility due to massive flooding of its premises, Nigeria's DailyPost reports. According to the mortuary’s manager, Bolaji Oluwafemi, the area was flood prone and always quick to transform into a lake anytime it rained. He added that the Lagos State Government had ignored repeated complaints from the hospital management and other residents living in the area.

Featured image: Massive floods hit Nigeria's capital Lagos - July 2017. Credit: Muradi TV

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