“Sorry o, sorry. The rain has really worsened our roads. Let me get water for you to clean your legs.”
These were words of Blessing Oladele, a resident of Osin Okete, while she sympathised with this reporter who tripped and almost fell on the muddy eroded path that led to Blessing’s residence.
As she offered the reporter some water to clean her leg, Mrs Oladeji complained about how erosion has made her entrance muddy and challenging for the occupants of her house to walk or drive their vehicles into the compound.
Mrs Oladeji is one of the many residents of Osin Okete Community who, in recent years, have had their houses and roads threatened by recurring floods and erosion.
Perhaps the problem faced by Osin Okete residents would have been eased if the Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority (LNRBDA), had effectively expended the public funds released for a flood and erosion control project in the community.
In 2021, LNRBDA facilitated a flood and erosion control project for Osin Okete Community at N36 million. The project was inserted in the Economic Revival and Growth Plan (ERGP), a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, developed by the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to restore economic growth across the country.
A response to a Freedom of Information request from the office of the Managing Director of the LNRBDA shows that the project has been fully cash-backed and has been 100% completed.
On a visit to the community in August, UDEME, the social accountability project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), observed that the volume of the project executed on site was trivial compared to the amount released for the project and contributed minimally to solving the flooding issue in the community.
The contractor, Hypo Verein Integrated, only constructed drainage systems on two streets in the community and left a more significant part untouched. Also, the drainage was constructed on only one side of the street that majorly benefitted from the project instead of the standard double sides. Hence, it could not solve the community’s problem.
The FOI did not specify the drainage length, but it noted that it is meant to be constructed in the whole community.
The poorly executed project has left the community with muddy roads and has also led to the development of a widening gully that seconds a more prominent gully that had existed on the affected street. These gullies threaten to destroy the road if not promptly attended to thoroughly.
Sand to the rescue
Pointing to the end of the drainage and the heaps of sand at the entrance to his residence, Emmanuel Samuel, a middle-aged man whose house is just a few metres from the newly developed gully, explained how residents prevent flooding.
“Whenever it rains, and the drainage is filled up, the water flows out to the road, then enters our compounds. That’s why we gathered sand at our entrance to stop the water from entering our compound, but it still enters if the water gets too much.”
UDEME also sighted a dilapidated house by the side of the more prominent gully.
Comfort Oyedeji, whose house is located adjacent to the dilapidated building, claimed that occupants had to vacate the building when they noticed the gully was expanding closer to the house and that a side of the house finally fell apart sometimes last year. She explained that her family had to heap sand by the gully to prevent its expansion toward their house.
Mrs Titilayo Kolawole also lamented how her family spent over N200,000 earlier this year when the flood pulled down their fence.
“The flood really damaged a lot of things. It destroyed our fence at the back and front yard, and we had to spend over N200,000 to rebuild it.
Reacting to the situation, the Assistant Secretary, Ifesowapo, Osin Okete Community, Samuel Omotoyinbo, explained that the community has also spent about N900,000 to address the problem in 2020 and described the project as half-done and incapable of solving the community’s problem.
“They did drainage there, but we are still facing a lot of problems. The work is halfway done, and the erosion is really disturbing, seriously.”
Mr Omotoyinbo also stated that the neglect of the road surface dashed the hope of a better road that he had when the construction began.
“After the drainage has been done, what we expected was that maybe they are going to sand fill the road so that it will be up to the level of the drainage. At the end of the day, we discovered that it had not been done well,” he said.
He explained that the flood also affects other communities that share boundaries with Osin Okete and that more efforts are required to control the situation.
“Where this erosion is coming is a very serious issue, about 2–3 kilometres. It starts from that secondary school up there. It’s disturbing us here to that part of Kangu that shares boundaries with Okete. If it is addressed from that place to those places there. It won’t be disturbing anybody. We are going to have free movement.”
The Assistant Secretary urged the government to provide more assistance in controlling floods and erosion in the community.
“We need another assistance from anyone who can assist, maybe the state, federal or local government.”
UDEME could not reach the contractor, Hypo Verein Integrated Limited, as the contact provided was consistently switched off.
This reporter visited the office of LNRBDA, but officials were not available to answer questions. Also, calls to the Managing Director and Public Relations Officer of the agency did not connect.
Efforts to get the reaction of LNRBDA were also futile at press time.
We’ll probe – CSO
After an inspection of the project executed on-site, the Deputy Coordinator of Elite Network Sustainable Development (ENetSuD), an anti-corruption civil society organisation in Kwara State, Lanre Osho, assured UDEME that his organisation would take up the project as soon as it began to track 2021 projects.
He noted that his organisation’s technical team would work with the project specification to compare the work done with the released amount.
“We have our technical team that we’ll lead to the site to do the reevaluation of the project and quantify what the contractor did on-site, whether it is commensurate with the fund released or not.”
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