3 July 2019

Nigeria: Flood Destroys Abuja Houses, Renders Many Homeless

Photo: Samson Adenekan/Premium Times
One of the flooded houses.

Barely three weeks after a downpour led to the death of a teenager, Tuesday Bala, at Efab Estate, Lokogoma, a flash flood has rendered at least seven families homeless while several other properties have been destroyed in the area.

Bala, 17, was reportedly killed on June 6 after a heavy downpour left a part of the estate submerged.

Abdulkadir Habeeb, a resident of the estate, told PREMIUM TIMES that another downpour that occurred last Wednesday destroyed his house and other properties.

"Now I have to rent an emergency apartment in Sunnyville that may not be confident for my children and their mother. I don't even know which of our two cars will make it back from the mechanics as they were seriously damaged by the flood. As I speak with you now, my seven-year son is with my friend while my 2-year-old son is with my wife's mother.

"My wife and I couldn't go to work because we've been trying to salvage the little we could salvage from all the ruins you are looking at. The fence is totally gone, and you can see the whole building is now tilted towards another direction. What this simply means is that we can't live in this house again until it is demolished and rebuild from the foundation," he said.

Michael Edoja, a retired banker, also lamented as he showed PREMIUM TIMES around his abandoned house, which was covered in mould.

"It was not like this when we moved into this estate. I bought this house as a carcass from my gratuity thinking we've found a place of rest," he said.

Residents said that they started witnessing flash flood in the area in 2011 and all their entreaties to Efab Properties, the managers of the estate, have yielded no result.

"In 2011 when something like this happened, we approached the estate developer to compensate and relocate us to any other estate developed by Efab Properties, but we have not gotten anything except the work done to the waterway," said Mr Habeeb.

Joseph Nnorom, the chairman of Lokogoma Development Group, which is made up of 34 chairpersons of estates, said 57 of the houses which are allegedly obstructing the water channel in the area have been marked for demolition by Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

The Estate was approved - Efab

Fabian Nworah, Chairman of Efab Properties, told PREMIUM TIMES that estate was not obstructing water channels and was duly approved by the FCTA during the ministerial tenure of Mohammed Gana.

"The truth of the matter is that the Minister of FCT then, allocated the land to Efab Property; and there was a committee set up by that administration called Mass Housing Committee. They gave us letter of allocation and before they can give you letter of allocation you must have shown them your design.

"The committee studied the layout, took it to the minister before consent was given to execute. We then signed memorandum of understanding. Without approval, they would not have given us letter of approval nor sign memorandum of understanding.

"They often come around during the course of building to ensure everything is in order," he said.

No Approval Given - FCTA

However, the FCTA has denied granting approval for the construction of the estate.

Mukhtar Galadima, the director of the Department of Development Control, Abuja Metropolitan Council, challenged the management of Efab Properties to present the approval it was granted to construct the estate.

"If they have any approval, let them bring it so that we can reconcile what is approved and what it is developed," he told PREMIUM TIMES

"Obviousl,y we cannot approve any building within this stream valley. If anybody claim to have an approval, let him produce it, we also have our records.

"Nobody has come forward to say this is our approval. Compensation is only paid to structures that was approved and then based on overriding public interest, government has to take over the place again. In this context, if anyone claims he is having an approval, we would be glad to see it and compare with what was approved and what was built," he said.

Inadequate Compensation

Despite losing properties worth several million naira, the victims of the flooding in the area have only received paltry compensation from Efab Properties.

PREMIUM TIMES findings revealed that so far, the company has given out a total of N2.5 million as compensation for loses suffered to 38 homeowners as at the end of June.

While some got about N170,000, others received as little as N20,000 for loses suffered. None of that sum is enough to rent a decent house or buy one in Abuja, even in other Efab estates.

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