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Failed Government Intervention, Residents’ Negligence—Major issues, Amidst Climate Change Concerns

John Mackay road, an important route that connects Oke Ayepe, Osogbo-Ilesha to Oke Baale and many other communities, was usually a busy road until it recently became affected by erosion. The deplorable state of the road has made it hard for vehicles to travel through on it, while motorcycle riders now charge exorbitantly and even have second thoughts before agreeing to ply the road.

In the middle of this, there is Abdulwaheed, a motorcycle mechanic who owns a shop along the road. Before now, he used to enjoy patronage not only as a motorcycle mechanic but also as a generator repairer since his shop is within the sight of commuters and other passers-by. However, the opposite is now the case as he rarely gets generator repairs again while the patronage for his motorcycle mechanic work has dropped drastically.

He revealed that the deplorable state of the road had affected shop owners economically, and it is for that reason that many shop owners along that route left for a better location.

“Every other shop owner that you can find here only has faith in God. Maybe it will get better. It has never been easy,” he retorted.

With a raised voice showing signs of frustration, the mechanic narrated that no one, not even pedestrians, can pass through that road an hour after the rain stops as the flood would have taken over everywhere and sometimes extend to his shop.

While he attributed the lack of a proper drainage system as a reason for the erosion, he confirmed to this reporter that the road had been measured many times by different people who claim to be contractors, but it remains the same.

Failed Government Intervention and Poor Preparation

On May 21st, 2018, the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Muhammad, commissioned the flood control project of the Okoko and Ogbagba rivers in Osogbo, Osun State. This project, executed by the Ecological fund office, brought hope to many residents. However, four years after, their hope has been dashed again. Some part of the drainage has been damaged while some others have been taken over by bush.

In my engagement with Oyeniyi Muhydeen, a resident engineer, he identifies design problems as a major challenge. In constructing a drainage system, he confirmed that the first thing to do is to consult Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to get data on the area for the past thirty years to have insight into how it rains and the quantity of the rain. After which, he said: “They will have to put it into the system and calibrate it to know the exact quantity of rain and use it to design a drainage system that will work since there are different drainage systems.”

“If the rain in that area is much, they will design for the trapezoidal instead of the rectangular type of drainage system,” he enlightened this reporter.

As for the construction aspect, he noted that the government’s method of awarding contracts is sometimes questionable as they may engage people not qualified enough to handle the project and deliver substandard work.

In his perspective, Abiola Durodola, a registered Urban planner, faults the government’s preparedness. He confirmed that the preparedness and adaptability of the Nigerian government to the obvious risks of climate change and environmental damage is very low.

“Prior to this recent flooding, the NIMET already warned Nigerians, especially the governors, of the impending disaster and advised them to prepare. Yet, nothing was done until the flooding blew out of proportion.”

“Till this moment, there is no real evidence of mitigative measures put in place,” he added.

Citizens’ Poor Attitude Towards Waste Management

Oftentimes, the faults of flooding are directed to the government. As much as this is true, it is important to point out that the citizens are also culpable for their poor attitude towards waste management. They neglect their roles even when it requires little effort. One can imagine a situation where a drain or culvert gets blocked with trash dumped by the people even when there is provision for waste disposal.

Considering this, Abiola Durodola shared that “Citizens are agents of disaster risk reduction and preparedness.” He maintained activities like deforestation, unplanned development, and blockade of drainage systems that threaten the environment need to stop.

Also, he emphasised the need to prioritise citizens’ education and engagement in physical planning.

“Citizens who are susceptible to disasters like flooding are mostly urban poor who are not aware of its many effects.”

“In cities like Ibadan, Lagos, where dumping of refuse on water channels has contributed to flooding over the years, effective citizens’ participation is required to improve the level of preparedness.”

“Community leaders must work with civil societies and organizations to educate its members on how to understand the warnings during extreme climate change,” Durodola added.

Oyeniyi, a resident engineer, also agrees that poor waste management by the people is another factor contributing to the problem, while he urged the government to provide necessary waste amenities, especially in local areas.

The Way Forward

It is an established reality that climate change is a global phenomenon which requires efforts of both government and private sector. Over time, many Nigerians have lost their homes, and acres of farmlands have been destroyed as a result of the detrimental effects of climate change. Reports have it that the fear of the disruption of the food supply has intensified with little to no significant response from the government.

To address the challenges of climate change, Abiola emphasized the need to curb unplanned physical development along the coastal line. He added that “Aside from the natural factors, the expansion of people and houses to some flood plains and coastal strips in states like Delta, Kogi, Lagos and Nasarawa is exposing more people to flood risk.”

Durodola harps on the need for government at all levels to genuinely finance disaster mitigation projects and also develop a sophisticated disaster management plan to prevent disaster effects on the people.

Ajani Kayode suggests that the government should ensure the expansion of the drainages while he charged citizens to encourage adequate waste management.

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