Friday 17th June 2011 witnessed what could be termed the heaviest down pour yet of this year’s rainy season in Lagos. It probably signaled the first of many more to come based on the predictions by meteorologists at the beginning of the year.
The rain which began just at dawn was heavy and windy in some parts preventing most Lagos residents from venturing out of their homes to work and their various businesses. Residents who braved it out stood at bus stops and road junctions for many hours under the down pour to board vehicles which were in scarce supply. The few bus drivers who were on the road used the opportunity to make quick profits, hiking transport fares as the demand far outweighed the supply.
Because of the peculiar residential pattern that sees most Lagosians living on the Mainland and working on the Island where most of the businesses and corporate organizations have their offices, thousands of people were stranded in the Obalende and CMS areas of the city. These are the popular bus terminus for Lagos Island bound commuters.
Given the circumstances, the most sought after means of transportation were the commercial motor cycles (okada). However, like the buses they too were in limited supply and also astronomically increased their prices per ride. A ride from Obalende into Victoria Island which normally goes for N200 went for as much as N1000 with already drenched commuters falling over each other to hitch the available rides.
The hike in okada fares was however not just because of the increase in demand. It was largely due to the most difficult terrain which the bikes had to ply through. Not only were the routes into Victoria Island and Ikoyi clogged with cars in a gridlock; most of the area was heavily flooded.
Rain water in what has now become a perennial occurrence in Lagos had overwhelmed the often clogged drainages and had risen to fill up the streets and roads presenting a sight that was not only harrowing to the commuters but also a huge embarrassment to the city authorities who for long had been hawking the claim of building a mega 21st Century city.
There was hardly any route that was not affected in the Business District. Ahmadu Bello Way, one of the major roads in Victoria Island was so flooded that only four wheel drive vehicles could brave it. Many cars got stuck, others were simply submerged.
The waters were so high that there was no differentiation of where the roads or the gutters were so many unsuspecting drivers in their desperation drove their cars right into ditches. Commuters had to alight and wade through the pools which in some areas got to the waist level. All around was a tale of anguish, desolation and a clear indictment on the infrastructure managers of the city.
Read full report in Daily Times Here.