Though the rain that fell on August 26 and the flood that followed it have come and gone, the memories will continue to linger in many areas. Apart from the casualty figure which was officially put at 102, properties worth hundreds of millions of Naira were lost to the flood. Many families were also rendered homeless as a result of the flood that swept across areas in Ibadan. The August 2011 flood kept a lot of people reminiscing about the “Omiyale flood” that ravaged the city in August, 1981. Street Journal’s investigation revealed that in most of the affected areas, the water level rose above the lintel level of buildings. The current of the flood was so powerful that it moved vehicles, destroyed buildings and even swept off a bridge.
Allegations have been raised by residents that from the way the flood swept through the city, there was more to it than the rain. A resident of Odo Ona disclosed that as of 11 pm on that Friday, the area was not flooded and everything appeared normal. He stressed that “floods never happen suddenly but this one came in a rush, the current of the water was very strong and before we knew it, water had covered everywhere. Water rises gradually when it rains but this one just came heavily and it was even above the window level so it was very difficult to escape”. The resident said “it was evident that they opened the Eleyele Dam, that is the only explanation for that kind of flood.”
Another observer who resides on Ring Road said “no one is saying they should not open the dam, but there is a normal gradient that they follow when they open the dam. If it was a natural flood, how come the streams that flow to places like Yemetu, Ring Road, Molete and Gege did not overflow and destroy lives and property?” he asked.
Street Journal’s investigation also revealed that the disaster is being linked with a human error and negligence of duty in some places. It was alleged that those on duty at the dam were apparently not at their duty posts and that by the time anyone got there, the only option left was to open the valve and allow the excess water to flow out in order to save the dam from collapsing.
One other thing that has made more people believe in the “negligence and cover up theory” being postulated is that two weeks after the incident, no arm of the state Government has raised any panel of enquiry to find out the cause(s) of the flood. While the executive arm has not said anything, the legislature has maintained a stoic silence about the issue.
From Street Journal’s findings, if the silence angered the victims, the Government’s decision that all structures in flood plains should be demolished have proved to be more annoying. A resident whose house is one of those marked for demolition spoke to Street Journal, the property owner claimed that “the whole thing happened because of the negligence of some civil servants and now they are not saying anything about it. The Government is using diversionary tactics; they are trying to distract the people from the real issue so that people will not take the necessary action. ”
Street Journal found out that the belief in most parts of Ibadan is that the demolition of structures on water plains is being used by the government to divert the attention of the people. It is being said that the government is using a “shoot first” approach so that those who lost relatives and properties would not hold the government and responsible.
In some quarters however, some people are of the opinion that it was necessary to open the dam with the amount of rain that fell that day. Those in this school of thought believe the dam could have collapsed if not opened to allow the excess water flow away.
Oyo Water Corporation’s GM Denies Complicity, Says “We Did Not Open Any Valve”
Street Journal’s WOLE ADEJUMO was at the office of the Water Corporation of Oyo State where he spoke with Engr. I. Olaniyi, the General Manager of the Corporation about the incident and the allegations that the flood was caused by the opening of the Eleyele Dam. He denied that there was any truth in the allegations and stressed that the dam was not opened.
There are allegations that the flood that ravaged Ibadan on the 26th August was manmade, that it resulted from the opening of the Eleyele Dam. What is your reaction to this?
A disaster cannot be covered up, when such things happen; you don’t need to tell people that a disaster has occurred. Oyo State witnessed a disaster on the 26th of August. But to say the fact, most things people are saying are not true. It was not caused by us, we did not open any valve, and we did not open any gate or barrier. It was a natural disaster.
If you have followed trends within weather circles, you would have heard of climate change resulting in environmental disasters. The main disaster is flooding, it has happened in Japan and China. It is presently happening in the US where they are about to evacuate about 100,000 citizens.
So, it is not peculiar to Nigeria but when you see something you have never seen before, all sorts of meanings would be given to it. Please help us educate the public; it had nothing to do with the Eleyele Dam. When people see the kind of flood they have never seen before, they will believe it is a dam, no it is not.
Some months ago, it happened in Lagos, if you remember, the Governor tried to disabuse the minds of the people because many people believed that the Lagos flood was caused by Oyan Dam. People of Oyo State should believe that it was a natural disaster, that kind of rain has never been witnessed in the state.
But if it was natural, how come only specific locations were affected especially places that are known to be courses through which the Eleyele River flows? How come other streams were not affected around Molete, Ring Road, Yemetu?
Not many people will say that but majority will tell you that the rain affected all streams in Ibadan. Even areas upstream Eleyele were affected, talk of areas like Apete, Ajibode, UI, Agbowo. Those places are before Eleyele and the rain caused severe damages there. It was in Apete that we heard of a whole bridge that collapsed. Thanks to Governor Ajimobi’s intervention, that place would have been cut off completely. Areas upstream were heavily affected. The flood reached those places first. What do we say about Ogbere which is far away? What about Olomi, Olunde, Onipepeye, Odo Oba, areas that don’t even have any connection with Eleyele? Houses, bridges and culverts were damaged.
We had a rain that was so much that all streams had more than they could cope with. They all broke their banks. So why would people single out Eleyele? Maybe it is because of the reservoir, so people felt we released water.
Let me explain what a dam entails, a dam does not have water of its own. It is the same rain water that is stored in a dam and treated for people to consume. The stream is from afar, it is dammed. The water in Eleyele Dam is from Ona River, near Oyo. We put a dam at Eleyele, we put a pool, a reservoir. The dam was put to stop the water from flowing away. When the dam is full, the rest is allowed to naturally flow downstream through a spillway. A spillway is the created path for the water to flow downstream.
Let me also tell you that water flows from the spillway between July and November every year. The dam is normally full around that time because that is the peak of the rainy season. It has been like that since 1940 when the dam was constructed, the water has been spilling for 5 months for the past 70 years. The dam was constructed in 1939 but it was commissioned in 1942. It finds it easy to flow through its path downstream but because of developments in the vicinity of the stream, it finds it difficult to discharge through its normal channel. Though for some time now that has not been much of a big problem because there was no big rain. The Government has however continued to warn people not to build near river channels, not to dump refuse in drains and things like that.
To also show you that the flood was not caused by our dam, the stream on which our dam was built was affected too. It damaged properties before and after the stream’s course. Ogbere stream and Oluyoro stream were equally affected and all caused damages.
I remember there was a heavy rain sometime ago and a woman was shown on the television at Onipepeye shouting that it was Asejire that caused the flooding that occurred in their area. I called my people immediately to inquire if there was a pipe burst, they said there was none. But really, you can’t blame the people; they will feel it is the closest dam when such a thing occurs.
Dams are constructed in such a way that a spillway is constructed, if that is not done, when the dam becomes full, water will overtop the dam and cause it to collapse. So I think our people still need to be educated on this. Dams actually prevent floods. In flood prone areas, construction of dams along the path of a river is one of the steps to control flood.
When the stream reaches our dam, it fills it up. By the time it is filling it up and preventing or delaying the flow of water downstream, if the rain is not much, people downstream will not feel anything. That August 26 rain was more than ordinary.
And talking about opening of the valve, the valve is in the middle of the reservoir. When it is raining, nobody can take the risk of opening any valve. The water is just allowed to freely flow downstream.
Talking about the spillway, it still spills water now, even though it has not rained for some time. Is it normal for it to spill even when it is not raining?
Yes, it is still spilling. Naturally, uncontrollably, expectedly, our spillway spills between June and November and it has been like that for the past 70 years. There will still be spilling even when it is not raining. In Hydrology, there is a run off when rain falls. The ground becomes saturated and the rain flows on the ground into streams. The total run off therefore is the surface run off and the underground run off. When the rain has stopped and rivers have gone down to an extent, surface run off stops but underground run off continues for a period of time. Water from the underground continues to fill the stream and our dam.
So, even when it is not raining, our spillway continues to spill and it continues for some months. That is why sometimes you see water on some un-tarred roads, people assume they are springs but they come from underground run off. What people see are false springs. When the catchment area is big, the spill is big.
One other thing aiding the flood is deforestation. Most of the areas that have been built up now were forests. Forests serve as speed breakers for the flood but now the speed breakers have been removed.
Was there any damage done to the Eleyele Dam?
The rain water backed up to the Water Works. Some damage was done to the dam’s channel that takes water from the spillway. So water seeped into our water works and caused damage to some of our installations.
The same volume of water entered Asejire dam that same day. Why didn’t Asejire flood its path with destruction?
That is a very good question to ask. Asejire too actually flooded its paths that day. Luckily, it flows on the outskirts and there are not much developments off the Osun River which is downstream Asejire. The spill from Asejire was even much more than the one from Eleyele. But the stream channel was not choked up.
Eleyele too was the outskirts in 1940 but now, the dam resides in the city. The course of the stream right from Oluyole, Odo Ona Elewehas been encroached by development. That is the explanation.
Like I said, the water that flows into our dam is from the Ona River in Southern Oyo and it flows through Moniya So if it rains in Oyo or Moniya, the flood will be felt at Ajibode and even Oluyole. If our dam had collapsed, we wouldn’t be at work today.
I won’t blame people for saying what they are saying but I will just implore them to believe what the corporation is saying. Let no one deceive them that the flood happened because we opened a valve. We are saying this so that they can prepare for eventualities and heed government’s warning on environmental laws for instance about setbacks, streams and dumping of refuse. They put the government in place to serve, protect and make life better for them. I will urge them to cooperate with the government and Water Corporation. Whoever is in doubt can come to us for explanation.
Is the Water Corporation of Oyo State now under the Ministry of Water Resources?
The Ministry has just been created. There has not been any pronouncement on that yet but I think we will know very soon. For now, no one can say. The Ministry’s scheme of activities is just being drawn.