Residents of Yayale Estate in the Dutse district of Garki in Abuja are constantly threatened by floods resulting from the Federal Capital Development Authority’s (FCDA) inconclusive work on roads in the area.
During a typical rainy day, poor drainage within the estate causes floodwaters from the road to rush into residents’ compounds, destroying property and threatening lives.
Solomon Daudu, a resident of the estate, said his building is worst hit when it rains. Last Wednesday, he almost lost his Toyota Camry to the flood. Mr. Daudu said he left for work in the morning and returned around 11:00am to pick up his children for lunch. On their way home, at around 4:00 pm, he received a phone call that his compound was flooded.
“The flood pushed down the fence at the back of my house and pushed my car outside to the main road after it forced open the gates,” he said.
“Everything kept outside the building was swept away in the flood,” he said.
However, officials of the FCDA deny that the flooding is linked to the road construction. The FCDA’s chief resident engineer, who declined to be named, said that there was no need for the government to build additional drainage on the road. Instead, he blamed the problem on the inability of the estate’s developer to utilise the survey data for the area.
“If they had the survey data, they would have known that in future, there was going to be a major road there,” he said.
“We did our best on that project and there is nothing more to it. There is no need for drainages on express roads, or are we expected to provide drainages in the estate too?”
He warned that the road will be expanded into a dual carriage way in future and that the estate will definitely be affected.
But the residents disagreed with the FCDA’s assessment. They pointed out that drainage was provided on other sections of the road. Emmanuel Okoronkwo, a civil engineer who lives in the estate, said the road project was poorly executed.
“It is wrong of them to have gone ahead to do this thing without providing for a channel for the flood. They could have put what is called a ‘cut-off drain’ and then channel it properly,” he said.
Mr. Okoronkwo said that the road should not have been categorised as an expressway, as it passed through a residential area. He said the government had evaded its responsibility to the estate.
“You cannot provide a road and not take care of that,” he said. “That is ignorance at its height. You must channel water somewhere, otherwise you leave it to wreak havoc,” he said.
Ahmed Yabagi, chairman of the Yayale Estate Residents’ Association, said the problem was the irregular planning and construction of the road. When the road was designed, the estate was not in place. However, by the time the road was constructed, no one bothered to update the initial survey data for the road, which channelled the flood into the land where the estate now stands.
Blame the management
The issue has been complicated by poor government management of the estate, said Mr. Yabagi. The estate was built in 2004 to provide accommodation for civil servants. The head of service partnered with a private developer, Shelter Initiatives, on the project, while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) provided the land.
Beneficiaries of the housing scheme were to make monthly payments for their houses to the government which would, in turn, remit a part of the money to the private developer. However, the government has not been making adequate remittances to the developer.
Mr. Yabagi said that was why so many of the estate facilities, including the drainage system, were in such a deplorable condition. The developer had even sold some of the estate’s units in a bid to recover his money, he said.
There are over 150 residents within the estate and they have made several attempts to draw the federal government’s attention to their plight, but to no avail.
“We demonstrated, we blocked the road, and stopped the work on the road at a time. We had also written to FCDA but no response yet,” said Mr. Yabagi.
“We equally held meetings with the office of the head of civil service of the federation, but none had yielded fruits,” he said.