Lokogoma is one of the sprawling estate development areas in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The estate which started when the city administration felt the need to create more land for people seeking land outside the city centre has undergone a lot of development over the recent years and with this has come a significant increase in population. A number of gated houses estates have sprung up along the Lokogoma expressway, as well as commercial spaces, supermarkets, bars and recreational parks.
But with this development and increase in population has come a couple of challenges – notably flooding and poor infrastructure. In 2017, a man known as Kenneth Nwoga, and his two children, Winner and Prestige, died in the flood while driving from I-Pent5 estate on August 17. The man who was conveying his kids to school had his white Honda SUV drawn and submerged while trying to cross a flooded bridge.
That sad incident led to a lot of outcry. Protesters packed the streets of Lokogoma demanding infrastructural intervention in the area which was obviously lacking good road networks, drainages and water channels for the encroaching tributaries.
The crowd that had gathered dressed in black attires held placards with various inscriptions.
“Save Our Souls, Provide Primary Infrastructure Now! #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN.”
Others read “We are tax payers! We deserve government presence in Lokogoma #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN”.
“Flood is controllable, provide infrastructure now #LOKOGOMA3DEATHNOTINVAIN”.
One of the conveners of the march, Joseph Nnorom, told journalists that the government has “abdicated” its responsibility by not providing basic infrastructure in Lokogoma.
The physician explained that there were about 30 estates (at that time) and about 400,000 subscribers of the mass housing scheme in Lokogoma.
“We subscribed because we had faith in government even though it’s on a PPP, private public-sector partnership,” he said.
“We also believed and bought into it, but unfortunately as you can see, if you look, there are no roads here, what you see here as roads are actually tracks that were made by tippers and lorries delivering building materials to construction sites.
“That is what we have been using since 2008 till date as access roads.
“Government has completely abdicated its responsibility to provide primary infrastructure which is defined as access road and drainage to all the estates. Granted that some of the developers have not done the internal infrastructure, but the government was supervising access roads and the internal infrastructure there has been a complete failure of the whole thing,” he added.
Speaking further, Mr. Nnorom revealed that letters had been written to the Abuja minister towards relieving the plight of residents of the area.
“We have made representations to the authorities; we have written to the minister previously, we have the acknowledgment copy of what we wrote to honourable minister to come to our aid.
“Anytime it rains, most of us will be trapped outside the whole of this place until the rain subsides.”
The doctor also narrated what happened on the day the father and his children died.
“A family of seven, the bread winner and the two eldest children are gone. We have heard all sorts of rumours about what happened. What happened was that the man was going to send the daughter and the son to summer school and unfortunately their car was swept off by flood and they drowned,” he said.
“We have written the honourable minister including the goring mortuary pictures of the diseased, and the letter was submitted on Monday again. So today we decided, we have to come make ourselves physically available for people to see that there are human beings living here not animals.
“For crying out loud, Lokogoma is part of FCT as you can see there is no government presence. It is Kenneth Nwoga’s family now; it may be my family next time. Even when you are not around, your children may take a wrong decision so it is an environmental hazard that everybody is exposed to.’’
Two years after, in spite of the decision by the city authority to dispatch an assessment team of engineers to the area and seek an end to the problem, flood deaths are still reoccurring in Lokogoma. On the 6th of June 2019, a 17-year-old boy named Tuesday Bala died as a result of the heavy downpour that lasted for over four hours in the area.
On the same day, an unnamed housemaid also died in the flood that submerged part of EFAB Estate. The house help was unable to leave the house when it was besieged by the flood.
One of the executives of the estate’s landlords’ forum, Shettima Gana Mohammed, told journalists that more than 15 houses and two churches were submerged by the flood. “We called NEMA and Fire Service but they did not come but the police were there and other security officers within the estates. They came with the people from facility office in the estate.
“We did all we could and saved some of the residents but unfortunately in one of the houses, a male house help whose name wasn’t told to us died,’’ he said.
Few weeks ago, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FCT FEMA), rescued some residents of Emerald Flower estate, Lokogoma district and Maitama extension after flood-ravaged and submerged the communities.
A lot of residents in the area wonder how many more should die before the city authorities intervene. There are also a couple of illegal housing developments in the area which have blocked some waterways. It is time for the city authority to wield the big stick as it has promised by removing such illegal structures.
That should also be followed by a proper construction of quality roads and bridges in the area which now host a good population of people in the city. If these measures are not taken, residents of Lokogoma will continue to record needless deaths and erosion. It is the responsibility of relevant authorities to ensure the protection of lives and properties, and this they must use as the basis of assessing their own performance. The clock is ticking.
By Festus Adebayo