Lagos’ mega city dream under threat - THE NATION
Lagos dreams of becoming one of Africa’s mega cities. While its economy is flourishing, ease of movement and seamless traffic, a major investor’s consideration, is scuttled by lack of infrastructure, such as roads. A vehicle cannot move a kilometre without encountering a bad spot or potholes, making movement difficult. OKWY IROEGBU-CHIKEZIE writes that though the governor has assured Lagosians of his readiness to work on the roads, residents want urgent attention
An Africa, Nigeria seems to be an octopus on the continent’s economic space. One of the states that has made the country very visible is Lagos. The state is forever expanding. To the east of the city is a fully developed Lekki Phase One, which an upscale abode for the rich, Phase Two, is still developing.
There is also the burgeoning Atlantic City, which probably is the first of its kind on the continent, offering some of the best residential abode and workplaces on the continent.
With many such upscale abodes in the city, Lagos prides itself as a mega city. But some major features of a mega city are good roads and seamless flow of traffic. These are practically absent in Lagos as most o its roads are dilapidated and riddled with portholes. The roads are so bad that driving in Lagos is a nightmarish experience and motorists most times spend thousands of manhours on the roads.
Analysts believe opportunities in Lagos are enormous such that it become a true Nigerian success story but for the roads. The dearth of infractructure is the greatest threat to its mega city project which aims to make the city one of Africa’s most vibrant, attracting a gaggle of foreign investors.
Aside infractructure, the mega city dream is also challenged by a population that is busting at its seam, housing crisis, flooding, insecurity and filthy environment.
Provision of adequate infrastructure seems to be a challenge which successive governments in the state have failed to find a solution to. Whenever the rains come, the roads become flooded causing some portions to sink. The attendant gridlock across the city keeps people held up for hours in traffic, which impacts negatively on their health and vehicles.
From the Mainland to the Island, from the densely populated Orile, Ajegunle Ikorodu, Oshodi, Ijesha to upscale abodes, such as Ikoyi, Lekki and Victoria Island, the embarrassing sight of decrepit roads confronts one daily.
Cars bounce, passengers curse, tempers flare and cars run into themselves during rush hours. Accidents are frequent and articulated trucks have let down their containers on smaller vehicles with fatality. The bad roads didn’t happen in one day; the roads have deteriorated to the extent that Lagos residents are crying out to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to save from the nightmare. who promised to do intervention works as soon as the rains stop.
Sanwo-Olu promised that there would be extensive and massive rehabilitation of roads after the rainy season, but that all the roads cannot be tackled at the same time. He said continuous rain since he was sworn in, about four months ago, was slowing down the rehabilitation/palliative work on the roads.
He, however, assured that the government was still working day and night to remedy the state of the roads in the state.
Against this backdrop, the General Manager, Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), Olufemi Daramola, an engineer, said his outfit had begun full-scale repair and rehabilitation of roads across the state in fulfillment of the ‘Executive Order on Zero Tolerance’ for potholes declared by Sanwo-Olu.
He said the corporation had been providing palliatives with the use of boulders and crush stones on some roads across the state, to ensure free flow of traffic.
“In line with the Executive Order, we had to fix our plants and put some equipment and logistics in place, but the rain had slowed down our speed of delivery. However, things are getting better and we will go all out to enforce the governor’s directive because he feels the pain of the people and commuters across the state,’’ he said.
But not many people will agree with him. Mrs. Yetunde Daramola, a resident of Ilupeju, carpeted the agency for the deplorable condition of Fatai Atere Way, Matori and Ilupeju Bye Pass. She said she was once attacked at Ilupeju Bye Pass because she needed to slow down because of craters and potholes on the road. She regretted that residents and motorists spent about two hours to commute on a the road that otherwise should not take five minutes.
Furthermore, the Chairman of Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Kayode Adejare Omiyale, has called on the state government to rescue the local government from perennial flooding of Adebisi Street by Jacob Mus Estate and Herbert Macaulay Way near Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH).
He made the call when the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke, and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, visited his LCDA.
According to Omiyale, efforts have been made to de-silt the locations within the council, “but, so far, none of our efforts seemed to have yielded fruits.” He appealed to state officials to present the matter to the governor.
“To solve the flood challenges at the two locations will require a strong will backed by the state to remove all obstructing structures.”
Tunde Odofin, who has lived in Ajao Estate for 10 years, regretted that it seemed they are not a part of the city. He said if Lagos wanted to become a mega city, it has to fix its mega pothole problems. A city is only as liveable as its decent infrastructure, he added.
He said: “The state of roads in Ajao Estate is horrible; we don’t have proper drainage channels and most of our roads are very bad, and the cost of maintaining a car in this environment is alarming”.
A resident of Ajangbadi, Chief Ebuka Ofodile, said it has become an ordeal to live in Ojo Local Government and its environs.
He said: “I must confess that, for quite a long time, we have not felt the presence of the government in this estate. In fact, it appears like the government has ignored us, some residents and business owners have used their hard-earned money to fix some of the roads so that they can be manageable. But, there is a limit to what they can do, which is why the government is needed.”
A tricycle operator, Udoh Emmanuel, while lamenting that the bad state of the roads had affected business in the area, said the gridlock caused by the potholes had made commuting uneasy in the estate.
“The roads in Ajao Estate are an eyesore and for years, we have been going through hell. The government is behaving as if it is not aware that the bad state of the roads is responsible for the gridlock we experience daily, while plying the estate’s roads. The gridlock starts from 6.30am and ends around noon, but later resurfaces around 5pm. These periods are supposed to be our peak periods, but the gridlock is seriously affecting our income,’’ he said.
A civil engineer and Managing Director, Ethical Business and Management Associates, Victoria Island, Afolabi Adedeji, said contractors often use poor quality materials to build roads in Lagos. He explained why the roads in Lagos often go with the rains: “When the rains come around, it erodes all the poor quality materials that have been used to construct roads in Lagos during the dry season. Contractors short-change the state government including the poor quality of materials used in construction.”
He said it seemed to him that there is poor supervision by the government to ensure the right texture of materials are used for road construction while some state officials receive kickbacks from contractors to deliver poor quality roads.
According to him, what the government should be thinking of is partnering the private sector to handle most of the roads in the city, citing budget constraints. Afolabi recalled that through such partnerships Ajose Adeogun Street in Victoria was constructed by Zenith Bank while Saka Tinubu and Oyin Jalayemi roads also in Victoria Island were done by several banks that came together.
He canvassed the patronage of alternative means of construction, such as using cement to construct such as concrete roads which he said has the capacity to last between 40 and 50 years though the initial capital outlay may be huge, he advised that the topography of the state calls for such technology.
The engineer also called for attitudinal change by Lagosians by stopping the ugly practice of unhealthy, indiscriminate dumping of refuse that blocks channels. According to him, most failed roads are as a result of water finding its way into the roads because their channels have been blocked.
He advised that people should embrace and adopt acceptable ways of disposing waste because the era of dumping waste into water channels was over.
Aliu Musa, a surveyor, regretted that the city’s drains have been totally covered with sand and stagnant water to the point that people no longer remember the channels, dumping refuse indiscriminately.