“… I had hopes of good news every time I saw a tweet with her picture,” Gloria’s tweet captures the mindset of many Nigerians who relentlessly kept the search of Adewura Bello, the 26-year old chartered accountant who washed down a manhole and found dead in a canal days later, alive on social media. Unfortunately, this hope is one of many that never got fulfilled, no thanks to every government bodies who failed in their duties.
The manhole that swallowed Adewura was not created the day Adewura fell off a motorcycle and washed down the hole, it has been there for years with several complaints addressed to Mosan Okunola Local Government Development Area.
“It is unfortunate that a young girl had to die for this issue to get the attention of the government,” said a landlord at old Ipaja road, the exact street where the tragedy began. “We have written to the LCDA multiple times, not just about the hole but the flooding issue in the area, but they did nothing.”
Had this manhole been covered, maybe Adewura would have got home as she had told her sister minutes before she hopped on the motorcycle that rode her to the untimely death. According to a residence in the area, the hole was open because that is the only open drainage when the street gets flooded, an occurrence that happens frequently during raining season. They explained that water flows from neighboring communities are directed toward the channel.
“All the flood coming from Shagari Estate, Mosan, Akinogun, are all coming to this place. Everything is coming here,” a man who simply identified himself as Ajangbadi told SaharaReporters. “There is no year that this place is not flooded. It is through community effort that this place has not been washed away by the flood.
“The local government is aware of the situation of the road but they did nothing about it. If we decide to block the hole, houses would collapse because of the intensity of the flood. That is the only channel the water has.
“There was a time an engineer came from the local government. He looked at the hole and asked a wielder to bring quotation for fixing it but he did not return, nobody came back to check on it. If the issue of the flood had been addressed, maybe the incident would have been averted.”
112 did not act on our calls
The instinct of the residents of Old Ipaje road when realized they could not save Adewura after she was flushed through the manhole, was to call 112, Lagos State emergency number, to lodge a complaint. Mr. Ajangbabadi claimed he was the one who made the call but no one came to Adewura’s rescue.
“It was around 8:30pm” Mr. Ajangbadi explained. “It had just finished raining but the street was still very flooded. Sometimes, it takes about 30 minutes after rain for the flood to drain off. I was at the other side when I heard screams. I came to check what happened. I saw that people had gathered round lamenting the mishap that had just happened.
“A bike man had fallen into the ditch with his passenger but unfortunately, the passenger fell into the hole. The flood was intense, there was no way we could rescue her. Immediately, I brought out my phone and called 112. They told me they are coming.
“We took the bike man to the police state. When we got to the police station, I call again to let them know that we have taken the bike person to the police station. Another person picked the call and was arguing that I had not called before… he also said they would send someone one but nobody came all through the night. We left the bike man at the station and left.”
According to Mr. Ajangbadi, no emergency operative visited the scene until about 1:30 pm, the next day, when the police brought Mr. Onwe, was brought to identify the spot. Mr. Ajangbadi said he was too irritated by the sheer lack of urgency.
“This is someone life we are talking about. I was very angry that they were just coming by that time… I just ignored them and didn’t speak to them,” he said.
We are not trained to enter drainage—LASEMA
A hunt for a scapegoat
The manhole that trapped Adewura is not the only death trapped within Gowon estate. There are several of such across the state and by extension, the country. Just a few streets away from the Old Ipage road, another manhole lay uncovered at Lighter Junction in Gowon estate.
Following Adewura’s incident, residents in the estate built an iron barricade around the manholes to forestall other unfortunate incidents. The government, on the other hand, has not only kept mute but has also set out to bully residents into doing its job.
On May 28, 3 days after Adewura was found dead in a canal, the Environmental Health Officers from Mosan Okunola LCDA set out to mandate an old man, who has his small concrete molding company close to the manhole at Old Ipaja road, to mold a slab to cover the ditch.
The man, who refused to give his name, was given 3 days ultimatum after which he would be summoned before a magistrate court.
The abatement notice reads in part: “you are hereby ordered to construct a slab on top of the drainage sub to prevent occurrence accident within the specified below or face legal action.”