Some residents of the Trademore Estate in Abuja have been speaking on the flood disasters that ravaged the estate on Sunday night.
The estate, located in the Lugbe area of the airport road in the federal capital, was flooded after a downpour in the late hours of Sunday and early Monday.
At least three bodies were recovered Monday.
Officials of the fire service and other safety agencies from the Federal Capital Territory Administration were at the scene Monday morning when PREMIUM TIMES visited.
The residents said the estate witnesses such floods annually during the rainy season though the impact of the latest incident was the worst in the last nine years.
According to them, a life was also lost to a similar occurrence in the estate in 2020.
The Chairman of the Trademore Estate Association, Adewale Osinaike, said as of 2 p.m. on Monday, they could not ascertain the identities of all the three casualties.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that the third body evacuated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) around 10 a.m. was that of a male who came to buy medicine in the estate.
The third victim was discovered by the residents, he added.
“Three so far. The one we just took out from the vehicle came to buy drugs. He sat in his car hoping that the water level would subside but the water eventually just took him and his new Land Rover. It took the vehicle above the road, above the bridge into the channel. To take him out, it takes a lot of breaking the car, FERMA, NEMA couldn’t do anything. They were all there. It was the ‘Aboki’ boys that eventually succeeded,” he narrated.
Abdul Abubakar, a resident and an engineer, who witnessed some of the constructions in the estate, said he was among the persons who witnessed the gory sight of the 2020 victim but did not know this year would hit harder.
“I have been in this area for the past nine years but it has never been like this. This is the worst. If you check, we have Kennedy Street here, the other street is Obafemi Awolowo. The highest we have ever experienced ended at Kennedy Street but this extended to Obafemi Awolowo.
“I’m shocked to see what is really happening. You can see one of those guys I was talking to. He was among the persons that rescued a woman who lost seven children (yet to be verified) to the flood around 1 a.m. this morning in Zone 7. They were able to rescue only her but yet to know the whereabouts of the children,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Abubakar said he was among the representatives of the estate association who held a meeting with the Abuja Development Control Agency after the 2020 incident but have not seen the result of their deliberation since then.
Another resident who identified herself as Ms Prisca, said she narrowly missed the disaster because she passed the night in her friend’s house off the estate.
“It was restlessness that made me leave this house yesterday evening before the rain, only to receive a call this morning from my neighbours that our apartments had been seriously flooded,” she said, clutching to a handbag, her only possession not soaked by the flood.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director, FCTA Department of Development Control, Garba Kwamkur, during a visit to the scene of the disaster, said the agency had earlier marked some houses along waterways in the estate for demolition but could not execute the plan due to a court order.
He also argued that all the agency’s efforts to reach a compromise with the estate developer has been difficult.
“Last year when we came here for a similar issue, we came here with some hydrology analysis that showed that some houses are actually sitting on waterways. You can see that some houses have been marked along the bridge. In trying to enforce this, the developers got to the court and got an injunction.
“Banking on the fact that we have a court order binding development control, all we could do was to persuade him (the developer). You can see what happened yesterday again, another big issue which affects the loss of lives again.
“The issue of the court system in Nigeria usually takes time. For us, we also have our legal department who represents us and I am not in a good position to tell the court that this endangers lives here, mine is to look at the physical development of land,” he said.
Mr Kwamkur also denied reports of corruption among staff of the agency “which has contributed to the high case of illegal construction within the FCT.”
In a reaction to Mr Kwamkur’s statement, Mr Osinaike said none of the buildings was constructed by the residents, suggesting the developer and the regulators were to blame.
He argued that they bought the properties as built by the developer.
“If you check your record, Trademore is the largest privately owned estate in this country. How will you build an estate of this magnitude without an approval from the supervising agencies, this leaves a lot to desire.
“We were not the ones that built, the developers built and we bought.
“Let me correct this, we are not in court. This does not involve us at all. This court case has nothing to do with us, it is between the developers and development control agency. We don’t even have the details of the case. We are just hearing from the FCDA Director now that there is a case in court,” the chairman said
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