BACKLASH With Prisca Sam-Duru
On Monday, my colleague, Vera Anyagafu and I had an interview appointment with the amiable Director of Goethe Institut at her office in Lagos. The appointment was for 2pm. Even though it was on May 27th being a day children were celebrating their Day which meant the roads would be a little free, aware of how terrible the roads are, I still decided to leave my place in Ikorodu at 10am. That day was one of the longest days of my life! I got to Goethe Institut at 5pm. The gridlock on Ikorodu road up till Ketu, was more horrible than the most horrible of nightmares.
Thank Almighty God that the Director understood well our plight especially when it relates with traffic, and waited for us. Also, thank God that Vera was there earlier because she went on a bike (Okada) all the way from Agbara to Goethe Institut ‘s office at City Hall, just to make sure we didn’t miss our appointment. What a risk you’d say but that’s what reporters and in fact, most Lagosians go through on daily basis just to ensure they put food on their families’ tables, all due to bad roads.
Come to think of it, how did we even get here? How did roads in Lagos State get this worse? For as long as I know, since the entrenchment of democracy, only one political party, APC (having metamorphosed from AC), has governed Lagos State and has just passed the baton to another APC governor. Too bad there’s no People’s Democratic Party, PDP to blame for inability of the government to rehabilitate the roads which have degenerated into valleys of death. A Journey of 15 minutes ends up as 4 to 5 hours journey. The problem is not only about time wastage, it also has its toll on human health. I have personally witnessed two passengers on different occasions, who stood in the bus for lack of seats, collapsing as a result of terrible gridlocks. In fact during one of such incidences, the driver of the bus stopped on hearing passengers screaming. Some passengers panicked and jumped off the bus shouting ebolaooo ebolaooo but being who I am, I waited to find out what happened. It was later discovered that the young man was exhausted. Thank God the incidence took place very close to the Primary Healthcare centre just by the road side at Ajegunle bus stop. We contributed some money for him, took him to the health centre before continuing our journey.
Have you been to Agbara or Badagry recently? If you do not have any cogent reason to be there, please do not venture, or you’ll regret it. If you ride on a bike on that road, be sure of developing serious headache before completing your trip. Recently, there was a protest by Lagosians led by the President Women Arise, Dr Joe Odumakin, for that road to be fixed immediately. Before the protest, people have been posting videos, photos and write-ups that document their ugly experiences on the road, on social media yet responsible authorities deliberately turned deaf and dumb to the plight of the users. Corruption and playing politics with lives of citizens I must say!
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Let’s not even talk of Satellite area. Both streets and major roads are in terrible condition such that if you are driving, it takes you hours to join the major road, which ofcourse is like jumping from frying pan to fire.
Coming back to Ikorodu Local Government Area, this government must make road rehabilitation a priority. The Ijede road from Itamaga is very bad and keeps motorists almost at a stand still for 2 hours, before navigating their way out inwards Ijede road or towards garage. And from Omitoro down to Elepe towards Gberigbe, is the biggest nightmare people living around those areas have. AP bus stop, One fold and the mother of them all, Ewu Owa, have been abandoned by motorists, for streets. Residents who seem to have given up on government after several pleas to fix the road, are however, grateful to God for not recording any loss of life because there have been close calls. School children have been rescued on several occasions from drowning. Vehicles and okadas with their passengers regularly plunged into gutters covered with flood etc, until the road was finally abandoned and motorists began to ply through the streets, which have also become very bad.
In addition to plying through the streets, some motorists began going through Imota to get to Gberigbe at night which is like moving around in circles. Besides, it’s dangerous as there have been alleged cases of disappearance of people, ritual killings and kidnappings along that road.
The deplorable condition of the roads has also affected businesses as most shop owners located around the areas mentioned earlier, have closed or relocated. It is even worse that tax collectors from Ikorodu LGA Agura, threaten to lockup shops of shop owners who have not paid their annual rates even when they are evidently battling poor sales.
Now that it is Sanwo-Eko and now that Local Governments have been given autonomy, it is expected that Lagosians will begin immediately to experience some relieve on the roads. As a matter of fact, the Governor and all LGA Chairmen MUST embark on a tour round the state and Areas. This way, they will see and feel what the people are going through as a result of bad roads.
I’m not sure that people are any longer interested in which road belongs to the Federal or State or Local government. All they are interested in, is that work should commence immediately on the roads. I believe it is possible for the Lagos State governor to influence or rapport with other governments to repair roads which are not directly under his jurisdiction. So, it is expected that while the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is commencing work on state roads, Federal or Local government roads must not be left unattended to because at the end of the day, it is the people who will suffer, more so, the blame will naturally be on him as the Chief steward of the entire Lagos State.