Expensive Slums


Residents of VGC, Lekki, Ikoyi groan as flood pounds Lagos noveau-riche
Rescue us before we drown, they beg Ambode

By VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA and HENRY OKONKWO

They are choice estates. Abode of rich individuals and blue-chip businesses. The haven of influential Nigerians and celebrities including actors, musicians, footballers, politicians, expatriates and top businessmen. Owning a property or residing in these highbrow areas is an induction into the comity of the rich and powerful.
As a result, tenements and offices there do not come cheap. They are some of the most expensive real estates in Africa. For example, the rent of a block of two-bedroom flat in these neighbourhoods could be as much as N3.5million per annum, while rent on a duplex there can cost N15 million. Average value of property in these estates is put at N300 million.
Of course, the foregoing implies that Ikoyi, Victoria Island (VI), VGC and Lekki offer serene, exquisite environmental beauty, convenience and comfort to their bourgeois denizens.
Perhaps, before now. But not in all seasons anymore!
The paradise of lush green private compounds and parks, paved roads, lovely shades of trees and flowers often become a hell during the rains. No thanks to flood water which invade and wreak havoc in the homes and the streets!
After a downpour, these estates become eyesores, looking probably worse than backwaters slums such as Mushin, Okokomaiko, Ajangbadi and Ajegunle in the suburbs of Lagos, as they are often flooded and waterlogged.
Commuting becomes the most arduous task, as the entire network of roads is locked down in traffic logjam, causing untold suffering for residents and business owners.
The sight of residents waddling through large puddles has become regular feature, as water takes over different sections of the communities and roads. From Ahmadu Bello Way and other roads in VI, to Dolphin Estates in Ikoyi, the roads are scenes of chaos as scores of motorists face hard times manoeuvring their ways out of the floods, even as multitudes of rain-soaked pedestrians and stranded commuters, with trousers and dresses rolled-up to knee level trek the long distances to their destinations due to scarce public transportation.
Often, many residents are forced to stay indoors, while those already in their various shops and business centres experience lull in patronage.
Some who spoke to Saturday Sun bemoaned living in these choice areas any time it rained, saying life there was no better than in the ghettos.
A resident of Ahmadu Bello Way in Victoria Island, Mr. Steve Obi, lamented that he was not getting value for the high rent he paid on his apartment. “It is regrettable because after paying so much in rent to stay in these high brow areas, you now find out that you are no better than those staying in places like Iyana-Ipaja, Mushin or Orile. It makes the whole area seem like a glorified slum. The beauty you see in these areas are just cosmetic, okay during the dry season, but when the rain comes, the whole makeup is washed away.”
Another resident, Mr. Felix Uzoekwe, said he relocated to VGC to insulate himself from the insecurity, noise and diverse challenges associated with living in the less-fancied areas on the Lagos Mainland, but regretted that he had been disappointed. “Lekki and VI may be safer than Ikeja in terms of security, but in terms of flooding, they are worse,” cried Uzoekwe, noting: “After the rains, Lagosians in other parts of the city easily move on. But we on the island experience more than the rainfall, we watch our houses, streets and roads get taken over by flood. It could really be a horrible sight inside these estates.”

As a result of the bad state of the roads on such wet days, motorists living or working in these areas shun taking out their cars, but, rather opt for commercial buses and taxis. “Last year’s rain taught me a lesson”, said Mr. Joseph Onipede, a resident of Lekki. “I was wading through the floods on my way to work, and the flood didn’t allow me notice the dangerous potholes and bumps on the road. So, I kept falling inside them. In the end, the bad roads damaged my tyre, sensor, silencer, bumper and the floods covered almost half of my engine, damaging lots of electrical wirings in my car. It was indeed a nightmare,” he said.
“There is nothing classy plying the roads off these upscale areas, because some of these roads on the island are now so deplorable. During the dry season, we contend with potholes and craters on the roads. The rainy season makes matters worse for commercial drivers. On many occasions, we have to park for some time to drain water from our vehicles with bowls and kegs. The condition of the roads is just as poor as in many ghettos on the mainland, they are all the same,” Dayo Olakunle, a cab operator, said.
Following an unprecedented rainstorm on June 6, 2017, which left the estate completely flooded and caused serious traffic snarl on the Eti-Osa highway, Property Owners and Residents Association of VGC, (VGCPORA), has called on the state government to come to its aid and save members from the waves of flooding being experienced in the estate.
“We thank the Honourable Commissioner for the prompt response to our call for government intervention regarding the unprecedented flooding of our estate last Tuesday (6th June, 2017), which put our community in the news for the wrong reasons, as well as, causing very serious traffic jam on the Eti-Osa highway. Shocking images and videos of the flood went viral on social media and were also carried on a number of electronic and print news media. This kind of news is most undesirable and does neither the image of Lagos State Government nor the investment of the owners of the properties in VGC any good”, the letter signed by the chairman of VGCPORA, Olusegun Paul Adetokunbo Ladega stated.
Specifically, the association wants the government to help tackle both the internal and external factors of the flood which it listed as the immediate removal of all obstructions along the path of the natural watercourse for effective discharge of water from VGC into the lagoon, urgent implementation of the expressway drainage works as proposed by both LCC/Hitech Construction and M/s Planet Project Ltd. and lining of both the Southern and Eastern canals all the way to the lagoon.
Although, Saturday Sun learnt that the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare, has sent a delegation from the ministry to inspect the site, residents are anxious as to when they would reclaim from the menace of storm water and begin to enjoy their once beautiful environment.

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