Residents of Isheri and other flooded communities along River Ogun in Lagos and Ogun states have blamed government’s mismanagement and “commercialisation” of Oyan Dam for the ceaseless floods ravaging the area.
They said this at a press conference held on Tuesday.
The briefing was organised as a response to a recent statement by Ogun Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), claiming majority of those affected by flood were “land grabbers occupying flood plains”.
Olufemi Odumosu, managing director of OORBDA, attributed overflowing of the Oyan Dam to rising climate change and indiscriminate building along flood plains.
“There are many tributaries that flow into Ogun River. Therefore, water from Oyan River, into which the water released from Oyan Dam flows, from is only a small fractions of the Aggregate Rain Water flowing into the Ogun River from these tributaries include: River Ewekoro, Opeji River, Eredu River, Iwofin River, River Ore at Oba, River Afojupa, River Orogbo, Sokori River, Owiwi River and Abijire River, among others,” he had said in the statement.
“Unfortunately, the flood plains identified above have continuously been taken over by Property Developers who built Residential Estates indiscriminately and recklessly in the areas either out of ignorance or sheer underestimation of the devastating effects of flooding.”
But reacting to the statement, Abayomi Akinde, chairman, Riverview Estate Residents and Stakeholders’ Association, said the allegations against the communities were untrue.
Akinde tackled OORDBA, saying occupants of the said flood plains obtained legal permission from the government to build in the area.
He called out governments of Lagos and Ogun states to back down their “land grabbers” tag ascribed to residents of the areas that have been grappling with flood menace over the past eight weeks.
“The communities living along the Rivers Ogun in Lagos and Ogun States have engaged with the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), in order to ensure that these communities are not flooded each year in the later part of the rainy season,” the statement read.
“One significant engagement, a s-day Stakeholders Summit, was organised by the Lagos State Government on 15th and 16th May, 2017. The Summit addressed the subject of the negative impacts of flooding of Ogun River on adjoining towns, and villages in Lagos State.
“In all, over 140 persons participated in the summit comprising top government functionaries, members of the academia, organized private sector, media, national and international experts in meteorology, NGOs, environmentalists, etc.
“The communique issued at the conclusion of the summit stated amongst other things that the OORBDA should strive to exploit to the best practice in the monitoring of Oyan Dam to stem the tide of flooding in the affected communities in Lagos State as enjoyed in the 1990s. Essentially, data, was presented at the summit to show that in the 1990s, the OORBDA released water from the Oyan Dam reservoir in November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June and July and there was no water release during August, September and October.
“The OORBDA has ignored this recommendation and there was flooding in 2018 in the communities along the River Ogun and in 2019 a greater than the previous year is under flood waters.
“One would notice that the public statement of OORBDA fails to mention that power generation is one of the attributes of the installations at Oyam Dam. At the time the dam was commissioned by President Shehu Shagari in 1983, three turbines each rated 3MW of power for a total of 9MW of power were installed in the dam. These turbines have not been used since that time.
“If the turbines were in use, they would require about 2 million cubic meters and one can easily see that if there is no water coming into the reservoir, the reservoir would empty in about 130 days. The total average run-off from the catchment area is estimated at 822.2 million cubic meters per day from this we can see that the reservoir would not fill up and releases of huge volumes of water would not be necessary.
“The OORBDA has refused to release is operating the reservoir as a fish pond which generates huge profit to the organisation. We pray that the OORBDA is made to follow the path of rectitude and that water releases from Oyan Dam reservoir would be from November through to July such that the reservoir is almost empty in July and the reservoir is filled up in August, September and October for flood-free experience along the River Ogun.
“Finally, OORBDA should stop its false narrative of land grabbers building indiscriminately on flood plains. We want to put it on record that Ogun and Lagos state governments sold and put us in possession of our land, we are not land grabbers or speculators.”