Lagos residents lament looming disaster, lack of amenities

By Onyebuchi Sampson

Ajegunle residents, a Lagos community of over 1.5 million people, are lamenting the looming disaster in the area due to long neglect and lack of amenities.

Located in Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Council, Ajegunle community has only one tarred street amid over 100 untarred ones. The streets and roads lack proper drainage, medians, walkways and street lights, unlike its neighbours, like Surulere, Lagos Mainland, Apapa and Lagos.

Apart from the only tarred street (Zion Street), other major roads are riddled with potholes, shallow drainage, lack of median, walkways and street lights.

The community is also one of Lagos flood-prone communities that suffered from the opening of Oyan Dam. A visit to the city revealed a sorry tale of the community, abandoned to its fate, due to years of neglect.

A resident, Kamal Adesiri, lamented that his property was damaged when his apartment was flooded during the last rain. Adesiri said he currently lives in fear of the unknown.

“Any time it rains, especially at night, we may just be swept away and that’s death,” he lamented.

Besides flooding, the community lacked portable water as residents still paddle canoes in search of water as it was in the 80s. Despite reports of starvation and health issues in the community, residents have been left to their fate as they constantly struggled for survival.

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Chairman, Ajegunle Community Development Area (CDA), Mr Sunday Awobona, said the community has been existing without water for decades without any intervention from the authorities. According to him, the major challenge in the community is water.

“We don’t have water to drink and we wonder if we have a government. We only depend on vendors for potable water. How do we cope with that and this is a community that has government officials?. This is Lagos State not anywhere else?” he asked.

Beyond the issue of water, access to healthcare has remained a challenge. According to the residents, the Ajegunle Health Centre, located on Omo West Close, Ajegunle, is the only health facility created to serve over 1.5 million residents.

A visit to the facility showed that only six medical personnel are stationed in the clinic and they work between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The Baale of Ajegunle Community, Chief Moyosore Oladunjoye, lamented that the health centre is not equipped with drugs.

Also, a recent study by Lagos Urban Studies Group of the University of Lagos, in conjunction with the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation and Shantytown Empowerment Foundation (SHEF), revealed that only 29.4 percent of residents visit healthcare centres when ill.

The research conducted with the support of COVID-19 African Rapid Grant Fund was carried out in Ajegunle and other communities in Lagos State.

The study reported malaria as the most common illness, while residents depend on self-medication. The research, titled: ‘Giving Voice to Slums: Creating Digital Urban Platform for Community Self-Reporting Amid COVID-19’, was carried out to understand the socio-economic conditions and health behaviours of these communities during COVID-19 in Ajegunle community.

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