• We Need Senior Secondary School, Good Roads, Says Traditional Head
Otumara, situated in the heart of Lagos Mainland Local council, is one community that requires the state and federal governments’ urgent attention. It hosts the National Theatre with its vast land and aquatic splendour. However, the residents believe their community is not getting the attention it deserves. While agitation for the building of a Senior Secondary School for the community is ongoing, the people also want government to do something about the perennial flood that is making many to relocate from the area. Indeed, this is their main challenge, as it has become a distressing source of worry to the residents.
Aside this, there is also the problem of stagnant water and filth that spread across the community. A visitor’s nose is assaulted by the stench that oozes from the drainages and lagoon that border the community. The major road and smaller ones are all in terrible shape, pointing to a general lack of infrastructure in the town.
The traditional head of Otumara, High Chief Kehinde Kalejaiye (Ilufemiloye I) is desirous of government presence in the community.
His highness, who ascended the throne in 2016, recalled that the first thing he did then was to write a letter to the former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, that they needed a community health care centre.
“I thank God that he sent a team from the Ministry of Health to come and visit the community. Today, we have a standard health care centre. Otumara Health Centre runs 24 hours,” he said.
He has also built a security post for officials of Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), as part of his contribution to having a secure community.
Nonetheless, he still feels there is an urgent need for government to proffer a sustainable and permanent solution to the flood and blocked drainages, which, he said, is making life miserable for residents and traders in the community.
He explained that whenever it rains, the flood usually destroys goods and properties worth millions of Naira. For instance, he said the people were yet to recover from the recent downpour, which made things pretty difficult for everyone. Thus, the people’s condition of living has gone greatly worsened.
He disclosed that the situation has been aggravated by the fact that Otto Creek is blocked, especially as nothing is being done to improve the situation. He, therefore, appealed to the Lagos State government to rescue the community from being submerged by the filthy water.
He explained that the creek, meant to serve as an outlet for rain waters and flood is currently littered with refuse and weed, which need to be cleared.
He said: “It has not been easy for us in Otumara since beginning of the rainy season. Residents have been battling with flood challenges, due to the blocked Otto Creek. Our drainages are blocked, especially the Otto Creek, which ought to serve as outlet for rainwaters. The creek has turned swampy and is filled with waste. It needs dredging to enable us live a healthy and normal life.
“We are urgently pleading with government to assist us in clearing the Otto canal and the construction of a connecting drainage system to serve as outlet for the floodwater. We are appealing to Lagos State government and relevant agencies to come to our aid by addressing these challenges.
“We want the ministry of environment to help us fix our roads, schools and primary health centre. We want an improved condition of living for all.”
To achieve all this, he said there is need for Lagos State government to carry the people along in its regeneration plan.
“Otumara residents are part of Lagos State. We contribute to the state’s economic growth. Therefore, we ought to benefit from government policies and welfare programmes. I am urging Lagos State government to interfere and ensure that Otto creek, which is the cause of incessant flooding is cleared, as doing this will address the flood problems in our community.”
He is equally worried that their children have to journey as far as Surulere to attend a good secondary school. He said that unfortunately, some of the children are exposed to cultism. He regretted that the school project in the area has been stalled for 38 years.
One of the elders in the community, Chief Asoju of Otumara, Pa Ephraim Eromosele, said the swampy condition of the community has deprived residents a good lease of life, particularly during the rainy season.
He said: “The blocked drainages in the community are negatively affecting the life and economy of residents. We have seen officials of the Emergency Flood Abatement Gang (EFAG) of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources clearing blocked drainages and lagoon across the state. Why can’t they replicate same here in Otumara?
“The way filth and refuse litter the community poses a great danger to the residents’ overall health. It has left our homes flooded and our children exposed to ill-health.”
Similarly, the chairman of Otumara Community Development Association, Mr. Ishola Abass, said: “Over the years, flooding has been a major problem in our community. We are now in the rainy season. We are begging government and its agency to step in and ensure that property and lives are secured. We want government to evacuate the lagoon and all adjoining drainages to avoid the disastrous consequence on human health and environment…”
Reacting to the residents’ agitation, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said in in a recent publication: “There was a day the governor mentioned the matter at the exco meeting. The place is part of government’s Urban Regeneration Project. There is a massive plan to rebuild the place as part of our Urban Regeneration Programme, which comprises drainage work and roads. The state government is thinking of a complete facelift for the place.”