By Mike Adeyemi
Shop owners and residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital were left ruining their losses on Tuesday as rainstorm wreaked havoc on property worth billions of naira.
The rain, which started around 6pm was heralded by a windstorm that left scores of residents of Ilorin, homeless.
Affected areas include; Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Adewole, Unity Road, Alore, Gaa-Odota, Oloje, Ogidi, Gaa-Akanbi, Oko-Olowo, River Basin and Sango communities.
Mostly affected by the rainstorm is the Kwara State Stadium, where the multi-million naira scoreboard and the entire western perimeter fence of the old wing inside the main bowl were badly damaged.
Speaking on the development, the Stadium Manager, Wale Obalola, told newsmen that it was the grace of God that prevented loss of lives during the heavy storm that accompanied the rain.
Obalola said some people sought refuge at one of the affected parts of the stadium while the storm lasted.
He said the downpour completely damaged the ultra-modern score board of the main bowl, adding that it also affected the fence adjacent Sultan Road, the Indoor Sports hall, the referee secretariat and offices, including that of a private security company, KSA.
He however said the management was still assessing other parts of the facility to ascertain the level of damages.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Sports, Elder Ayobola Samuel, who was yesterday, at the stadium to inspect the level of damages alongside directors of the ministry said, “I cannot value or quantify the monetary worth of damages done at the stadium for now.
“All I can say for now is that the level of havoc is extensive and huge,” he stated.
When probed on when the damaged facilities will be repaired, Elder Samuel said, “there is no specific time frame as the level and technicality of affected facilities will determine the pace of repair.
“For instance, for the damaged technical board inside the main bowl, we have sent to Lagos for its immediate repair, and they are on their way back to Ilorin now.
“However, the broken wall will be immediately fixed, including some other damaged facilities inside the main bowl that require urgent replacement,” he submitted.
Recall that the Kwara State Stadium was built in 1977 under the regime of the then Military Administrator of the state, late Brig. Gen. George Innih and was renovated extensively by the Bukola Saraki’s administration.
The facility hosted the 1985 National Sports Festival and several other tournaments such as the World Handball Championship in 1991, among others.
Several electricity poles across the metropolis were also pulled down, leaving residents of the state capital in total blackout.
Similarly, there was traffic gridlock after billboards and fallen masts blocked major roads. It took the combined efforts of officials of the Kwara State Road Traffic Management Authority (KWARTMA) and their Kwara State Signage and Advertisement Agency (KWASAA) several hours to restore traffic flow.
Also affected by the rainstorm is a mast erected within the premises of Zenith Bank, Unity Road, which fell on the roofs of houses beside the financial institution, causing serious wreckage.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an employee of Zenith Bank said the development will cost the financial institution a lot of money in terms of compensation to landlords of the affected houses.
“We have already informed our head office in Lagos about the development and we have been told to value the level of damages. The incident is quite unfortunate but there is no way, we will leave the houses owners without compensating them,” he said.
At upper Ibrahim Taiwo Road, two directional billboards were badly destroyed, with one of them trapping a moving Mazda cab and the passengers sustaining various degrees of injury.
A landlord, whose house roof was blown off by the windstorm, Demola Alapini said, “It is saddening to witness such occurrence at this time of economic hardship.”
Alapini, who valued his loss to be over N1 million, however, appealed to the Kwara State Government to come to his aid and that of his colleagues.
Lamenting the unfortunate incident, the manager of Chi-Divine Electronics Stores, Mr Yusuff Ibrahim, said a big billboard fell on two cars packed by customers and damaged the vehicles beyond repair. He added that some goods were also destroyed by the rainstorm.
At Pillar Mega Show room, Taiwo Road, a sales boy who spoke with our reporter under anonymity said goods worth over two million were damaged after the rainstorm blew off the roof.
“We hope this kind of sad incident does not happen again because some of our goods, mostly electronics running into millions of naira were badly damaged.
“It will not be an easy task to recover from such loss but we will appreciate if the state government can come to our rescue soon.”
It was a similar situation at Flora Mall, a LG show room located at Taiwo Road.
Not spared from the damages were Queen Elizabeth School, Ilorin and Ini-Oluwa Group of Schools, Gaa-Odota, were three classrooms and the staff room had their roofs blown off.
Narrating his plight, the Proprietor of Ini-Oluwa Group of Schools, Mr Femi Adeyanju said he was at the church while the rain lasted.
“What I first noticed was that my motorcycle was lifted by the windstorm and was left damaged while I was worshipping in the church.
“On my way home, I did not notice any damage until I approached my school where I discovered that the roofs of three classrooms had been blown off, including the staff room.
“The incident is so unfortunate but I give thanks to God that it did not happen at a time when the school was in session. The damage may have been more, especially when you are talking of innocent children,” he stated.
Reacting to the development, the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed assured the victims of government’s assistance.
The governor gave this assurance in a statement released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr Muyideen Akorede, yesterday.
Responding to the incident which he described as unfortunate, Governor Ahmed sympathised with the victims while stating that the state government has commenced disaster assessment and evaluation of the damage done.
According to the statement, the assessment was done by the Office of Emergency Management and Relief Services, in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, led by its Secretary, Mrs. Adaran Motunrayo.
Governor Ahmed however called on residents to refrain from indiscriminate dumping of refuse and erection of structures on waterways, which he noted is capable of causing natural disasters, especially flooding.
Places visited by the Emergency Office are; Unity, Taiwo Isale, Taiwo Oke, Oko- Erin, Sultan Road, Stadium Road. Others are Adeta area, Agbo Oba, Mubo street, Harmony Estate, Sango, River Basin and Fate area.