Barring last-minute reversal of its decision, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) will soon embark on the demolition of structures at the Trademore Estate in Lugbe Area, Abuja.

The decision followed the torrential rainfall on June 23 which flooded the area submerging many houses.

On Sunday, the Executive Secretary of the FCDA, Shehu Ahmed, declared the area a disaster zone.

“By declaring Trademore a disaster zone, we have told the residents there to evacuate. The area is on a low-line zone which is not safe. Flooding can come at any time. They know this and have been experiencing it over the years,” Mr Shehu said.

The FCDA official has earlier declared the estate as illegal, saying the authority has never approved its construction.

It all began on Friday, June 23, when an early morning heavy downpour wreaked havoc on the thousands of residents of the estate.

Daily Trust learnt that the torrential rain, which started around 9 am, had left many of the residents with no option but to swim amid the flood to safety.

Official figures put the number of houses affected at 116 while the leadership of the estate residents maintained that  just more than 50 houses were submerged by the flood.

Residents count losses

Meanwhile, residents of the estate have recounted their ordeals and losses following the disaster.

A resident, Aliyu Bakori, said when the rain started, there were two estate guards inside their office when the water filled up the whole office space. “That one had to climb up and sit on the building while we rescued the other one when the water receded. And there was an Igbo man who was carried away by the water. Fortunately enough, we used our hands to pull him out of the flowing waters,” he said.

Another resident, Pius Bimbo, said he almost lost his pregnant wife to the flood, describing the experience as terrible. “My wife is very heavy; and even this morning, she was complaining of stomach pain. I said if it was labour, maybe later in the day, we would go to the hospital; then all of a sudden, this flood happened. We had to drag her to a safer place, and before you could say, Jack Robinson, the water was at our neck level. It was a terrible experience for her. As I am speaking to you now, I don’t know her situation because she is somewhere, as we don’t have anywhere to stay,” he said.

Ashedu Gloria said she lost properties worth millions of naira to the flood.

She said measures against flood should have been considered when developing the area. “It happens every year and there is no solution; it is a pity. When they were developing the area, they should have put this thing into consideration. The drainage system is very important.

“This place is a very sloppy area and they didn’t consider that. Demolition of the area is not a solution because it would come again as there won’t be more houses to stop the water again. They should look for a permanent solution,’’ she added.

Our houses were not built illegally – Association’s chairman

In a chat with Daily Trust, the chairman of Trademore residents, Mr Tunde Sholadoye, said there are more than 3,000 housing units in the estate which was built by Trademore International Holdings in 2010.

A similar flash flood had a devastating effect on the area in 2021, and the recent one was the third in just three to four years.

Mr Sholadoye told our reporter that the residents are stunned by the recent recurring floods in the area against the backdrop that the floods had an inroad in the last four years only out of the more than 13 years since they occupied the estate.

He said, “When Trademore was initially developed, there were not many incidents of the flood. But when the FCT authorities started diverting water that is coming from Galadimawa down to Lokogoma, we started experiencing floods; because we weren’t having floods before.

“Again, the main road the Ecological Fund Agency built, they ought to have put in place a very big culvert to allow water to flow when the volume is too much. But they made the channel so narrow that it can’t hold the high volume of water.”

The chairman averred that it was three hours after the rain had stopped that they discovered there was a flash flood that came from behind the estate and went through the middle of the estate and went to the second gate.

He however refuted the insinuation that the estate was not registered and no approval given for its construction.

“The estate has been in existence for 15 years; if there was no approval, I wouldn’t know. But as far as I know, there was approval.

“When there was an incident of flood last year or so, they came and marked such houses that were flood-prone, according to them, and they demolished those houses. But demolitions can never be part of the solution. The only problem is that the water outlet channel is too small. This is not rocket science,” he said.

He added that he approached the FCDA development control unit and even petitioned the matter to the National Assembly last year.

“The solution has to be two-sided: the developer and the federal government. When we met, we had agreed on a two-way solution – political and engineering solutions. Politically, bringing houses down would not solve this problem. As much as they bring the houses down, the flood source has to be controlled. If it is not controlled, it will continue. I don’t know if you were in Abuja five years ago; Lokogoma had the same issue until federal government intervention came in.

“What I mean by the federal government intervention is the engineering solution. The channelisation of this water is too small. We need to box a very big and massive culvert that can take this discharge at once.

“And on the Shehu Yar’adua Expressway, the road needs to be redesigned to allow flash flood water to go away. Those are just the two basic things. With the help of God, there is no casualty in the estate,’’ he added.

The director general of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Dr Abbas Garba Idriss, while speaking on the flood, said 116 houses were submerged following the natural disaster.

He, however, said no life was lost.

He said the flood was caused by infractions on the water channel and appealed to residents whose houses are built on the water channel to relocate.

The FEMA boss said Trademore is on the water channels, and therefore, vulnerable to floods.

He noted that the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency NIHSA had predicted heavy floods in the FCT and appealed to residents of the estate whose houses sit on the water channel to relocate.

Meanwhile, residents of the estate staged a two-hour sit-at-home on Monday to protest the decision by the FCTA to demolish their houses.

The action, which took place between 7 am and 9 am, saw many residents sitting in their houses and conducting prayers

Spokesman of the residents, Adewale Adenaikan, reiterated their stand that the estate was not built illegally.

He blamed the FCTA officials for being “lazy to carry out their primary responsibility.’’

“What we need is the implementation of the already provided solution to the flooding; not the easy blame game that the FCTA is trying to play here,’’ he said.

Adenaikan said most of the houses were built from loans obtained from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and wondered how the bank would give out such loans to an illegal project.

He added that about 100 housing units in the estate were also bought by the Nigeria Police Force.

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