A five-year-old girl and a couple have drowned in an uncovered canal at the Ewekoro end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Ogun State.
The little girl, identified as Aliyah Hussein, was returning from Abeokuta with her parents on Sunday when she and her mother slipped on the edge of the canal and fell into it.
Our correspondent gathered that a yet-to-be-identified couple also drowned last Monday in the canal, as residents of Ewekoro lamented the failure of the state authorities to put a slab on the open part of the canal and guard it with iron bars so that pedestrians would not fall into it.
When PUNCH Metro visited the area on Thursday, Aliyah’s father, Oseni, said his family was returning from Abeokuta when it rained heavily in the area and caused a traffic gridlock.
Oseni added that his wife was seriously injured, and would also have died but for the quick intervention of other pedestrians who struggled to pull her out.
Oseni, who described his deceased daughter as his joy, said the management of a cement factory in the area, who reportedly dug the canal, did not show sympathy to his family.
“The incident happened around 8pm on Sunday. We were in a bus coming from Abeokuta when it started raining and there was a heavy traffic so we decided to take motorcycles to Ifo where we lived.“I got a motorcycle to Papa and left while my wife, our first son and Aliyah also took a motorcycle. Aliyah was asleep so my wife carried her on her back. When we got to the canal, the motorcyclist’s hands were unstable because of the flood and my wife alighted from the motorcycle.“The motorcyclist rode his bike to the other side of the road and my wife and daughter were attempting to cross the road to meet him when she slipped on the uncovered part of the canal and fell. There is an open part of the canal, which is supposed to be covered and guarded with iron bars but has been neglected. My wife did not see it because of the flood.
“It was our first child who observed that my wife and daughter had fallen into the canal and he immediately raised the alarm. When people rallied round them, they were able to pull out my wife, but we did not see Aliyah again.
“We continued searching for her till Monday. She was found dead on Monday evening and has been buried. She was a bright girl and she was just five years, and eight months.
“When we went to see the management of the cement company to lodge a complaint, we did not see anyone to complain to. All they needed to do was to put a slab on that uncovered part and use iron bars to demarcate the canal from the road.”
When PUNCH Metro visited the canal, a resident, who identified herself simply as Matron, showed our correspondent bones suspected to be remains of people who had fallen into the canal in past months.
She added that Aliyah’s corpse was recovered at the back of a cement company in the area a day after the incident.
“The slab on the canal does not cover the entire surface, and during heavy rains, the flood covers that part and pedestrians who are not familiar with the terrain fall easily into the canal.
“A couple still fell and drowned last Monday. It is wickedness on the part of the authorities and the cement company who are supposed to undertake the fixing of the iron bars. How many people will drown in this canal before the proper thing is done?”
When contacted, the Ogun State Commissioner for Works, Lekan Adegbite, said he could not get the exact location of the canal, adding that general construction work was ongoing at the Ewekoro end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
“Although I cannot pick the location of the said canal, I can assure you that there is ongoing construction work at the Ewekoro end of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.“The cement company in the area is also contributing to the construction as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. If you need further details, you can talk to the Commissioner for the Environment.”