Saturday, September 4, 2021 8:38 am
By Tunji Light Ariyomo
The comprehensively remodeled Adamasingba stadium Ibadan is a thing of beauty. Then it got flooded on its maiden outing.
Flooded pitches are actually not so uncommon especially with the volume of rainfall amidst our 3rd world infrastructure. The rain caused flooding in other places as well. With dozens dead, a similar flood is wreaking greater havoc in New York as I type.
What should however bother us is our reaction as a people. Yes, the response in particular of the government and that of the project consultant to what we think is an embarrassment. This is because the situation presents an opportunity in hydrological engineering and surface runoff management. The following are the specific steps I expect them to now take in the matter of the flooded pitch:
1. Allow various professional interest groups and engineering students and trainees to visit the site in the next one week without any remedial work. The purpose is knowledge. Let video recordings and photographs be taken etc as part of a potential disaster study and for documentation. Be very certain that there is adequate documentation. Such a body of knowledge would become sure-fire assets that could save multiple billions, and possibly prevent deaths, in both Oyo State and the rest of the country in the future.
2. Then reappraise the drainage design within and outside the stadium and the effectiveness of points of discharge.
3. Afterwards, commence immediate removal of the artificial or natural tuft.
4. Then provide an adequate cross-gradient to promote surface drainage on the pitch. This is tricky if the technician is inexperienced. The supervisory engineer and technologists must be on top of this. This is fundamental to any surface work in civil engineering.
5. Ensure that there is an even grade with no depressions. Also, ensure that water run-off from surrounding areas onto the pitch is prevented.
6. The contractor must now provide secondary drainage installation to prevent any water collection on the pitch. This could be located at the edge of the field in manners that may not even be too obvious to users. If however there is already in existence secondary drainage, then the contractor should check for blockages and free them.
7. Finally, put in place a robust day-to-day maintenance routine to prevent possible future blockages. Going foward, the state needs to strengthen precipitation measurements and hydrology services across the state, assist metrological agencies, develop early warning systems and a knowledge based system for historical hydrological data, and promote policies aimed at mainstreaming integrated hydrological studies and linkages with relevant research departments in tertiary institutions.
Again, as already stated, waterlogged pitches as it happened in Adamasingba are fairly common. The experience itself will now become a learning curve for engineers. In no time, the engineers in charge would become the local authority on pitch development and management in Nigeria if they address this current problem as a surmountable piece of an engineering challenge.
I give kudos to the Governor of Oyo State for the job done that led to the transformation of the stadium in the first instance. I took particular note of his deliberate patriotic action of assigning the job to Nigerian engineers. This flooding is a temporary setback that can be converted to a learning curve advantage for the ultimate benefit of the people and the advancement of the engineering profession.
*Tunji Light Ariyomo is a Fellow of Nigerian Society of Engineers, FNSE.