Fela Anikulapo Kuti was not totally right when he sang: “water no get enemy” as residents of Trademore estate, Airport road, Abuja strongly believe that their number one enemy is water that comes in form of flood causing fear, pain and sorrow to residents of the estate. But the water causing havoc, they submit, is
Fela Anikulapo Kuti was not totally right when he sang: “water no get enemy” as residents of Trademore estate, Airport road, Abuja strongly believe that their number one enemy is water that comes in form of flood causing fear, pain and sorrow to residents of the estate. But the water causing havoc, they submit, is as a result of incompetence and inadequacies of government officials.
Trademore residents blame the excessing flooding of their residents on infractions occasioned by illegal constructions of structures on water channels which have been diverted towards their estates and have impacted negatively on the Trademore estate.
While farmers pray for rains to make their plants grow, Trademore estate residents keep night vigil, praying to God to ensure that it does not rain in Abuja and its environs. Over a hundred families were affected by a flash flood in Trademore estate in the Lugbe area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recently after an intense rainfall that lasted for about 3 hours. Water surged into homes and businesses, forcing the residents to abandon their belongings and scamper for safety
Very few slept on Sunday when it started raining in the night. Their fears were compounded because the rain started in the early hours of Sunday unlike 10 days ago when it rained in the morning and a good number of residents were able to escape to safer places. The heavy downpour which started from the early hours of penultimate Friday morning in Abuja left the popular Trademore estate submerged in flood, with property worth hundreds of millions naira damaged in the process.
Two days later, it was confirmed that four residents including Mr. Philip Azubuike, a lecturer in the Physics Department, Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Yola, Adamawa State lost their lives as flood ravaged the estate.
The Director General, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Emergency Management Agency, Dr Abbas Idriss, confirmed that more than 26 vehicles were swept away by the flood. The lecturer was reportedly swept away in his Peugeot 406 car. His corpse was recovered from the canal by the entrance of the estate.
Alhaji Ashiru, an Inspector of police who was newly posted to the estate narrated how he lost all his properties, adding that he pulled out the corpse of the deceased lecturer from the canal with the help of other residents around. Some residents said they saw the victim struggling to come out of the Peugeot car when the flood started. He struggled to stay alive according to a resident: “We saw him on top of his vehicle trying to avoid the flood, but later we did not see him again.”
Mr. Audu Faruk, a resident said: “I was sleeping when the flood started, and all of a sudden, I saw my bed floating, then I rushed out and saw water everywhere. I rescued a heavily pregnant woman and children but some people were carried away,” Faruk said.
The estate, one of the biggest in Abuja with three phases, has in the last four years suffered from series of devastating effect of flooding with lives and properties worth billions of naira lost. The estate has recorded successive cases of death. In 2021, three people were reported to have lost their lives, two died in 2022 and four in 2023, a resident said, adding that the casualty figure would have been higher but for a re-engineering remediation strategy employed by the estate owner, one Mr. Mbaka, which ensured expansion of gutters and demolition of some structures standing along flood plains.
That may be like using malaria medicine to cure a terminal disease. The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) few days after this year’s flood incident declared the estate, a disaster zone, following a flood that left the area in ruin on June 23. That led to some demolitions but rather than abate those demolitions have added to the problem that arose this year.
Mr. Adewale Adenaik, the Chairman of the Residents Association, blames the problem of flooding in the estate on inadequacies of the people in the Federal Capital Territory bureaucracy who are not willing to put on their thinking caps in the other to solve the problem.
The Permanent Secretary of the FCTA, Sir Olusade Adesola, visited the Trademore estate for an assessment last week said: “Having seen the extent of the flooding, we hereby declare the Trademore area a disaster zone that needs immediate action to remedy further damages and loss of lives and properties. This is part of steps to address the incessant flooding at the Trademore Estate.
On Sunday, the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Mr. Shehu Ahmed, said the FCT Administration would demolish all structures on waterways across the nation’s capital.
Mr Ahmed who made this known in a statement on Sunday in Abuja said some structures were preventing water from flowing freely through its natural course which was responsible for flooding recorded in some parts of the city. “People are clamouring that we act quickly and take tough decisions to save lives. And this is what we must do. We cannot act as though we don’t see this man-made problem caused by those who violate the Abuja Master Plan.
”Buildings in Trademore Estate had been severally marked for demolition. Warnings have been given year after year but the occupants of the estate keep risking their lives and those of others. By declaring Trademore a disaster zone, we have told the residents there to evacuate. The area is on a low-line zone which is not safe. Flooding can come at any time. They know this and have been experiencing it over the years.”
The executive secretary, who is the chairman of the Special Ministerial Task Team on Flood Mitigation, revealed that the police station in Trademore estate would be demolished and some other buildings. He pointed out that Trademore Estate did not have FCDA Approved building plan and the continuously flooded areas can best be left as Green areas and not residential.
Mr. Ahmed explained that the estate was just one of the areas in focus as other areas where structures were built on floodplains would experience the removal of illegal structures. In 2021, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) marked over 160 houses for demolition in the estate but government pulled down only 30 houses which it described as illegal at the estate, in an attempt to prevent incessant flooding in the area.
Mr Ikharo Attah, then Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to FCT Minister, who led the operation under the auspices of the FCT Ministerial Taskforce Team, revealed that over 100 illegal houses would be affected. “This is an ongoing removal of illegal structures on the flood plain at the Trademore Estate, Lugbe, along Airport Road. This estate has been a theatre of flooding, very intensive flooding here and we have been engaging them for years.
He added that: “And we gave them 48 hours and even gave them additional 24 hours. For now, 30 houses are going but over 100 were marked, but we are still engaging critical stakeholders around there. “After removing the first 30 houses, we will engage them to look at how we can use land solution act to find solution.
“Like what some of them are saying that the Developer of Trademore Estate should be charged to court, they have the locus standi to take him to court.”
The minister’s aide reiterated that the FCT Administration would not compensate anyone because there was no building plan, no approval, no allocation on the flood plain.
“We are not going to give any compensation because there was no building approval,” he sated.
Reacting to the development, Adjia Sadat Bankole, who has been living in the estate for over 10 years, said if the demolition would save and prevent further loss of lives, then she was in support. “What has been happening here is not palatable . Why is flooding constant in this area in the last few years. My view is that if people’s lives are involved then demolition should take place so that the place would be free from flooding.
“My first experience of flooding here was about seven years ago and then it stopped, but in the last three years there has been constant flooding every time it rains. When the rain starts you cannot come out and you cannot come in,” she said.
She called for the prosecution of the developer of Trademore Estate, for flood diversion, alleging that there was a diversion of the flood plain.
She said, “I was informed where the developer built houses are the routes of the water and the water was diverted. The person who diverted the flow of water should be asked questions and be sanctioned. The developer must be asked questions, why is the developer walking free. He should be prosecuted. There was a time I had to sleep outside. The bridge was just constructed.”
Also, Mr Ike Emmanuel, a resident in the area urged government to force the developer to accept responsibility for loss of lives and selling water plain to Nigerians. Baring last minute changes, bulldozers may this week move into the estate to prevent further loss of lives and property.
Already some residents have moved out of the estate, some are moving out while activities at the police station in the estate have stopped. The police post was deserted last Friday.