The Untold Stories of House Owners in Alada, Maikabara, and Abata-Shuban Community Facing Risk of Losing their Household to Flooding as a Result of Dangerous Drainage Canal

By Muhammad Bashir Shuaib, Ilorin

Mr Azeez Alao, a resident of Abata Shuban for over 10 years, was in his compound checking his garden when this reporter met him, his voice spoke in dissatisfaction, showing this reporter how the flooding from the canal had eaten up his house fence perimeter.
“I have been living in this place for about 11 years; the drainage was not like this before; it started small and continued expanding. The community has made efforts and seen the point of its destruction. About 3 years ago, I had hoped that the trencher brought after the visitation of the state governor was going to reach the point of my house, but it didn’t, and now the erosion has no control and it has reached the point that it is gradually destroying the fencing. With the next rainy season, I don’t think the fence can survive destruction if nothing is done to it as it can lead to flooding,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimate, 64% of households experienced flood damage in 2022–2023. The damage included damage to dwellings, food sources, livelihoods, and access to essential services, including schools and hospitals. The survey report, which was titled “Nigeria Flood Impact, Recovery, and Mitigation Assessment Report for 2022-2023,” also revealed that 52% of families in the flood-affected areas reported experiencing a complete loss of income and business.

As I wandered around the Abata Shuban, I came across a local Islamic scholar named Ustaz Mubarak Abdulazeez. He was in the middle of teaching his students at the madrasa, where he had been imparting knowledge for over two decades. When I asked him about the drainage canal located near the worn-out edge of the madrasa, his face contorted with displeasure and he explained that the canal had caused extensive flooding during the last rainy season. The dilapidated condition of the madrasa was a testament to the havoc wreaked by the canal, and it was clear that it had been a source of constant frustration for Ustaz Mubarak and his students.

He said, “This madrasa has been here for about 20 years, and the drainage has been here since, but not a bigger one. It turns big like this because of the continuous diversion of drainage from the main road. The size of the drainage canal is now so large that it is destroying our buildings; it once destroyed a part of our madrasa. Whenever the government sent a representative, we would only see them with binoculars and promise that it would be attended to soon. Some years ago, trenchers were brought to enlarge the canal. During that period, we had thought it would be the end of our cries, but after the bulldozer removed the trees and enlarged the canal, the construction stopped, and this increased the erosion rate. The rainy season after the construction led to destructions in the buildings that took over 1 million naira to repair.”

According to Mr. Usman Abdulrazak, a skilled artisan and proud resident of the vibrant Abata-Shuban Maikabara community, the exorbitant amount of money that has been expended on drainage control measures would easily cover the cost of constructing a brand-new home. His remarks seem to suggest that the issue of drainage management has been a major source of concern for the community and that residents like himself are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress and tangible results.

“The drainage has been disturbing. I have been a resident of the area for over 12 years, and in controlling the erosion, we have spent enough to build a new house. I was very happy when the trencher was brought to expand the drainage canal. At the time, all the workers usually kept their tools in my house, but to my surprise, the work stopped without reaching my expected completion. Since then, I have made an effort to reach out to the person I know among the workers, but to no avail; we only hear promises that it is going to be attended to soon,” he expressed with deep regret.

Mr AbdulKabeer Amintopo, in his reaction during an interview with this reporter, said he is just developing a building in the Abata-Shuban community, but the erosion often destroys the road leading to his property. 

“I happen to be one of the landowners in the area, but the erosion in the area has always been a problem during the rainy season. I want to use this opportunity to call on the concerned authority for swift intervention on the canal construction,” he said.

Community Plead for Government Intervention

During an interview with this reporter, Mr. Adam Alada, the chairman of the Alada community, expressed concern over a long-standing issue that the community has been facing. He noted that some residents have even abandoned their homes due to this issue, and despite several attempts to plead with the concerned authorities and stakeholders, the issue is yet to be resolved.

“Our appeal to the Kwara State Government remains the same as it has always been. We urgently request their assistance in finding a permanent solution to the drainage issue in our community. While we appreciate the solution offered by the state governor, Mal. Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, during his visit to the area two years ago, we need the project to be completed as the first work done only enlarged the canal size and worsened the erosion problem. This has led to the destruction of households as the canal continues to widen. Therefore, we appeal to the state government for swift intervention to address this issue,” he concluded.

In the same regard, Alhaji Saliu Alada, 70, claimed the drainage canal had been there for over 4 decades, but unlike before, when it was small, it is now a big canal, rendering people homeless in recent times. He said, “I have known this drainage since I was growing, and it has started growing bigger as the times move on.”
Meanwhile, in his gesture filled with optimism, he said, “I have known over two past state governors that have visited this area, but what I believe about the recent administration is that the governor is the type that is making Kwarans happy, and it was his last visit that brought trenchers for widening the canal, which gives me confidence that the project can be completed under his administration. I am using this opportunity as an elder in the community to plead with the state government to complete the project as the next rainy season might be terrible for the households around the drainage canal.

Also, the Secretary of the Abata-Shuban community, a community next to the Alada community where the canal passed to Kuntu Ojatuntun, stated in his interaction with this reporter that it would be of great advantage to the community and the entire residents if the project is executed, as the drainage is a major concern of the community. It started small and continues to grow. If the project can be executed, the community would be so grateful, he concluded.

Expert React

Mr. Mayowa Ahmed, a real estate consultant, stated in his reaction that the drainage canal, which is about 4 meters wide from Okutagidi and passes through Abata down to Kuntu, has been a source of irrigation for several farmers in the Abata axis but has left several people homeless due to an uninformed decision they made while building.

It is expected by anyone who’s building close to the river to have at least a minimum of 15 meters from the riverbank before construction, while those buildings close to the Asadam River are expected to be 250 meters away, as reported by the Bureau of Land. Unfortunately, several houses have less than 6 meters set back at Abata, which makes the expansion of the river easier during overflow. This makes homeowners vacate their buildings for their safety.
Both the government and citizens have assignments on this issue, especially government officials from physical and urban planning, to take orientation and sensitization of expected setbacks seriously before building a house, because this is the first preventive measure while building close to a river that people should be mindful of. This should also be discussed before a land purchase between the seller and the buyer. The seller can back out if enough setback is not included on the land to be purchased for future safety.

Besides government orientation, people should also try to reduce the expansion of the river by implementing urban planning and land use regulations because the force of water that is overflowing can expand beyond the setback, but if additional measures like side concrete with rocks, the installation of flood barriers that are commonly used in Lagos, the usage of levees or flood walls, the implementation of sustainable stormwater management practices to reduce runoff, and a proper drainage system for interconnection are necessary.

Also, elevating the structural foundation, using DPM, and other means of preventing water and dampness should be encouraged. Lastly, consult local authorities and experts on flood prevention measures.

Muhammad Bashir works as a reporter with Confidence News NG