By Dipo Olowookere
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has expressed sympathy to those who lost properties to the flood caused by torrential rainfalls in the state at the weekend.
Mr Ambode said it was painful to see most prime estates flooded with water, roads taken over by floods, while many homesteads literally became pools.
Speaking on Monday at a sensitization workshop on water management and environmental control held at Ikeja, which is a prelude to a Water Technology and Environmental Control (WATEC) exhibition holding in Israel later in the year, the Governor assured the incident would soon be a thing of the past, as the state government was working towards embarking on holistic solutions to address the situation once and for all.
He said aside the fact that the issue of flooding was not peculiar to the state or Nigeria, urgent steps were being taken to tackle the challenge in a holistic manner and protect the state from future re-occurrence.
Describing the workshop as apt coming at a time the state witnessed flooding in some parts, Governor Ambode said in as much as the development was a trying period for him given the fact that so much had been expended in providing infrastructure for the people, but that major strategies would be implemented with the view to bequeathing the State with enduring solution to water management and environmental control.
“However, if we have learnt anything in the on-going flooding of some parts of the State, it is that there is an immediate, even urgent need for us to embark upon a review and reengineering of our canals and drainage systems.
“This must be pursued hand-in-hand with a clear and crystal re-envisioning of our water management system. So, in effect, what we should immediately pursue is a holistic solution to what is certain to be a recurring problem. It must be a sincere collaboration between government and the citizenry,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor said despite the fact that the State had been denied ecological funds by the previous federal government for political reasons, several reforms were being implemented in line with the capacity of the State Government to protect the shoreline and carry out de-flooding, which according to him, are equally expensive to implement.
“The issue is when you are talking about reforms, it comes with pains but it is only the vision that drives it through and that is what we are doing,” he said.
Speaking on the import of the workshop, Governor Ambode said the State Government was partnering with Israel which is one of the first countries to successfully overcome its limitations in water resources to develop water technology and environmental control, adding that the intention would be to explore a wide array of technological advancements and possibilities to ensure best solutions.
He said as a first step, the State Government would participate at the WATEC exhibition and take full advantage of state of the art technology in Israel, with the view to applying same solution in the State.
While alluding to the fact that the incidence of flooding was not circumscribed to Nigeria or Third World countries as United Kingdom and even Japan recently witnessed heavily flooding, the Governor said no matter how well a society may be prepared, natural occurrences could not be totally ruled out, and such was why Lagos State and indeed the country fully subscribes to the tenets of Climate Change Solutions by the United Nations.
“While all the aforementioned examples enjoin us to put our experience and pains into perspective, they also impress on us as a State and a government that we must learn from all these examples in order to better prepare for the future.
“To that extent, we will reinvigorate our campaign against the dumping of refuse by citizens into canals. We will be stronger in enforcing our physical planning laws especially those building illegally on canals and blocking the free flow of water across the State,” Governor Ambode vowed.
Speaking on the new waste management strategy being adopted by the State Government encapsulated in the Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI), Governor Ambode said available statistics show that the State generate 13, 000 tonnes of waste per day which is the highest in the world, and that the new approach was aimed at revolutionizing waste management with particular emphasis on reusing waste for other critical purposes and growing the economy, as against the present practice of dumping.
Besides, the Governor said as government would be implementing new strategies to find a lasting solution to the problem of water shortages and flooding, it was also important for residents to play their part by bearing new attitudes towards civic obligations at all times, without which the efforts of government would be in futility.
Also, the State’s Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Engr Ade Adesanya said the torrential rainfalls witnessed in the State in the past few days accumulated a total of 477mm of water, which was equivalent to the rainfalls experienced in other climes for six months, and that the successful management of the situation was commendable, while expressing the determination of the government to mitigate the impact of such in future.
On his part, Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Guy Feldman said his country was delighted to partner with the Lagos State Government to bring about lasting solutions to water management and environmental control.
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