June 11, 2009

48 hours of nightmare on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway

By Bose Adebayo

IF  their resigned expression is anything to go by, words alone cannot describe their ordeal these past two days. Indeed most of them were shocked speechless by this unexpected travail.

And when they eventually recovered their power of speech, it was only to rain unprintable expletives on those perceived as being responsible for their plight.

On Monday and Tuesday, road users and commuters plying the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway were forced to experience what approximates hell on earth.

Traffic jam on the road

Traffic jam on the road

And as they tried to come to terms with their tormenting experience some of them could not help but wonder aloud how a country so richly endowed  with mineral resources, especially the dollar yielding crude oil, could fail to build and maintain roads for safe and easy motoring  in the country.

They had expressed this sentiment against the backdrop that a significant section of the expressway between Mile Two and Sanya has failed beyond the ability of any vehicle to drive safely through without plunging into a crater-like ditch and other smaller potholes that traverse its lenght and breadth.

As they gave vent to their feelings in this respect, some had pointed out the tragic irony of allowing such a busy road to go to rot considering its strategic economic importance to Nigeria since it leads to the country’s biggest and busiest sea ports, a factor responsible for the heavy traffic on the road at anytime of the day.

Though Apapa Wharf is noted  for being an industrial area, the potholes on the road are enough to put the nation’s economy on hold due to frequent   gridlocks resulting from the deplorable state of the road.

For instance, on a given day, a journey from Wharf to Oshodi is not supposed to take more than 20 minutes but due to the deplorable condition of this road, motorists and commuters are known to spend hours before getting to their destinations.

This was the exact situation on Monday. The gridlock started like a child’s play around one in the afternoon. But it soon became serious that many motorists and commuters found themselves trapped in it until well past 10pm.

Some unfortunate school children also suffered the same fate  as many school buses were trapped in the standstill traffic jam.

The gridlock appeared to be worse around Sanya owing to a deep pothole in the middle of the express way. This forced most vehicles to divert to the service lane , thereby worsening the situation.

As at six in the evening, it had extended to Coconut, making it difficult to link Cele-Ijesha.  Lagosians had responded to the situation by hitting the road on foot.

Many of them were seen trekking  long distances due to a resulting sharp increase in transport fares while some motorists decided to ply the Mile Two to Okota route.

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From Mile Two, some commercial buses were seen driving against the traffic and those of them that  took this desperate option  were left with no other choice than to increase the fare from Mile two to Oshodi to N150 and N200 as against its usual N70 or N100.

Some other motorists chose to temporarily suspend their journey, choosing instead to park their vehicles on the roadside.

To most people’s amazement, the gridlock persisted till the following day and as at the time of filing this report, it has already extended to Alaba Bus-stop, although the deep pothole was being sand-filled by some individuals presumably sent by FERMA.

A truck trapped in failed part of the road.

A truck trapped in failed part of the road.

Some motorists who spoke with Vanguard Metro attributed the situation to neglect on the part of the Federal Government. According to them, the road would have been taken care of if it belongs to the Lagos State government.

“Don’t mind our government; do we need to tell them this is a major road; do you think they don’t know that we’re  facing hell here? The problem we have is that we don’t have a government that listens to the plight of the masses,” said one of them who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You see, we have just celebrated the so called Democracy Day and they want us to be jubilating. Why the need for such celebration when we don’t have bad roads to show for it?

It is always a sad experience each time it rains on this road but we don’t have a government that show any concern for its citizens,” said another motorist.

“Don’t mind them jare, they want to wait till somebody dies so that the road will be named after the person,” said a commuter by name Chuks.

Lagos stresses importance of child rights law

Lagos State Government through, the state Ministry of Justice and Office of the Public Offender (OPD) has declared that the future of Nigerian child lies in the 2007 Child Rights Law of Lagos State .

Director of OPD, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, who stressed this in Lagos said that if the rights are well annexed, the right of every child would be protected and a brighter future would be guaranteed for a Nigerian child as enjoyed by other children in  advanced countries of the world.

Mrs. Rotimi said that for every Nigerian child to have a better future, the child must be protected from all kinds of child abuse, labour, and trafficking which are all embedded in the simplified version of the 2007 Child Rights Law of Lagos State.

According to her: “Child abuse can be seen as the situation whereby the fundamental human right of a child is tampered with. That is, the child is not given adequate care and protection as it’s the responsibility of every parent to take good care of their children.

“Section 262 of the Child Right Law defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. It provides that such a child’s best interest shall remain paramount in all considerations”.

She continued: “A child shall be given such protection and care as is necessary for its well being, retaining the right to survival, development, rights to education, religion, freedom, movement, shelter and to a name and registration at birth”.

Lagos set to commission 12 mini-water works
Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), has concluded arrangement to commission the newly completed water works across the state which will be run on metering system as against the erstwhile billing system. Although, metering system would not be introduced wholesale, but rather selectively.

In the meantime, the Corporation has selected six zones for a pilot test for the take off of metering system of payment for water in the state. The zones include Apapa, Ikoyi , Victoria Island , Ikeja and Surulere.

Disclosing this to newsmen during the facility tour to the just completed sites of new mini-water corporations, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation, Mr. Shayo Holloway, said that metering system has been contemplated by the corporation for the past three years, but unable to take effect due to what he described as major challenges confronting the organisation.

The challenges he stated include the need to meet the water requirement by the public, which involved the need for rehabilitation of the existing facilities, the completion of the additional water works, fighting the menace of vandals and water vendors, the completion of the much-publicised independent power project (IPP) being constructed by Oando Plc, among others.

Holloway explained that the system has to take place based on the “significant improvements on the major projects, and subsequently, the commissioning of the 12 mini-water works that has just been completed”.

The metering system, according to Holloway, would help in conserving water and also, it would put an end to the crisis emanating from “crazy bills” that usually emanate from the corporation.