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10-Hour Rainfall Floods Luxury Mansions in Lekki and Ikoyi, Forcing Residents to Flee

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On Wednesday, July 4, 2024, a relentless downpour lasting over 10 hours transformed the upscale neighborhoods of Lekki, Ikoyi, and Ajah in Lagos into a scene of chaos and destruction. Streets turned into streams, and floodwaters invaded homes, forcing residents to evacuate their luxury mansions for temporary refuge in hotels.

The persistent rainfall began in the morning and continued through the evening, causing severe flooding that left a trail of devastation in its wake. Videos shared online depicted floating furniture, electronics, and personal belongings, illustrating the extent of the damage. Residents waded through murky waters, desperately attempting to salvage what they could from their inundated homes.

Mrs. Shade, a resident who rented a two-bedroom apartment for N3.5 million annually, expressed her heartbreak after losing everything she owned. “I haven’t even stayed up to one year in the house. I have lost everything. From my TV, to my new fridge, my furniture, my mattress and every valuable I have used more than 10 years of my life to build are all gone,” she lamented.

The flooding crisis has highlighted long-standing issues with urban planning and infrastructure in Lagos’ affluent neighborhoods. Streets were impassable, and homes were abandoned as residents sought safer ground. Many properties worth millions of naira were damaged or destroyed, including cars, furniture, and electronics. One compound had three cars half-submerged in water, requiring significant repairs to become functional again.

The presence of reptiles such as snakes and alligators added another layer of danger to the already dire situation. Mrs. Peace Tommy, an environmentalist, explained that these reptiles often seek refuge from rising waters, creating additional hazards for residents.

Despite the opulent architecture and high security of these areas, the recurrent flooding problem persists, raising questions about the adequacy of urban planning and government response. Mr. Babashola Ogunshola, a local home agent, noted that even the cheapest studio apartment in the area costs around N1.2 million, underscoring the high cost of living in these flood-prone neighborhoods.

Wednesday’s flooding is not an isolated incident but part of a troubling pattern. Experts cite the construction of buildings on floodplains and inadequate drainage systems as primary causes. The Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, has repeatedly warned against building on drainage setbacks, yet many properties in Lekki, Ikoyi, and Ajah are constructed on reclaimed land, naturally prone to flooding.

Mrs. Adebola Akinwunmi, another resident, recounted her ordeal: “I woke up to find my living room submerged in water. Our home is a two-storey building. The bedrooms are upstairs and the living room, downstairs. I knew it was raining but I didn’t know it would breach my home’s defences and enter into my living room. As I speak to you, nothing in that living room is salvageable.”

The situation was equally grim in Ajah, where residents resorted to using canoes to navigate flooded streets. Marketplaces were abandoned, and schools and businesses closed as major roads became impassable.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency’s 2024 Seasonal Climate Prediction indicated a high amount of rainfall for coastal states like Lagos, forecasting above-normal annual rainfall in many parts of the country. The National Emergency Management Agency has issued advisories to mitigate flooding, including clearing blocked drainage systems and evacuating flood-prone areas.

In response to the recent flash floods, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency urged residents to remain calm and minimize outdoor activities. Mr. Kunle Adesina, Director of Public Affairs for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, emphasized that while flash floods are expected in a coastal city like Lagos, proactive measures are in place to manage the situation.

Despite these efforts, the persistent flooding problem underscores the need for improved urban planning and infrastructure. As the city continues to grapple with the effects of climate change and rapid urbanization, the plight of residents in Lekki, Ikoyi, and Ajah serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for sustainable solutions to protect lives and property.

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