Lagos has been engulfed by some of its worst flooding thanks to a long-running drainage problem

Much of Lagos is susceptible to floods.
Much of Lagos is susceptible to floods.
Image: Reuters/Akintunde Alinkeye
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For much of the weekend, Lagos, Africa’s largest city, has been hit badly by heavy floods.

But with the city’s drainage system mostly poorly planned and, in some places, non-existent, flooding has become a costly annual experience. The floods have been mainly seen on Lagos Island, the major business district, with paved roads and streets flooded no thanks to overflowing street gutters. Some of the worst hit areas are also the country’s most expensive residential and commercial real estate in neighborhoods like Victoria Island and Lekki. But the aftermath is also likely to reveal some lower-income slum neighborhoods with poor structures will be also badly affected.

Residents across the city spent most of the weekend stuck indoors sharing videos and photos of flood scenes on WhatsApp as well as other public social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

In one case, a man is seen kayaking on Ahmadu Bello way, a usually busy road in the heart of the business district.

The government has often blamed the repeated floods on illegal houses and office structures built without city permits and without adequate planned drainage systems. Residents’ poor waste disposal habits have also been cited, with most of the city’s streets littered with waste which often ends up blocking street gutters and causing them to overflow. Given its low-lying position next to the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos is also susceptible to severe climate change floods.

For its part, the state government has urged residents living in flood prone areas to relocate.

In the long-term, Lagos’ floods could yet get worse as a result of an ambitious 5-mile new city which is currently under construction. Eko Atlantic, funded by private investors, is planned as a modern economic hub which, once completed, will be home to a new financial district, luxurious apartments and sky scraper office complexes. Built by dredging up and filling more than six miles worth of land in the Atlantic sea, the new city is protected by “The Great Wall of Lagos,” a sea wall built around it to protect it from the surrounding Atlantic and its “worst storms.”

But, according to some experts, the sea wall, while protecting Eko Atlantic, will leave much of Lagos even more susceptible to flood.