June 23, 2009

Sadness and joy of the new look Cele expressway

By Bose Adebayo

Possibly in a matter of months, the new over-head bridge being constructed by the Lagos State government at Cele Bus-stop along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway will be completed. Work from every indication is progressing at a rapid pace which suggests an early completion of the project.

Part of this indication is the sacking of roadside traders at the place and the demolition of their structures. As a result of this the place is now wearing a deserted  look since the traders have either been relocated to a new place or been forced to seek alternative haunts elsewhere.

Although this is gradually bringing orderliness to the Okota axis, it has not entirely stopped  motorists, traders and motorcyclists from taking over a section of the road. But the good news is that more people now use the pedestrian bridge to cross the expressway. This has been made possible following the ejection of traders and beggars who usually congest the place previously.

Displaced traders at Cele Bus stop on Apapa oshodi expressway.

Displaced traders at Cele Bus stop on Apapa Oshodi expressway.

However, it might take an extra effort for the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to keep the express way clean. Unlike Oshodi where LAWMA staff are always present with cleaning items, the story is different at Cele as  the cleaning exercise is more or less the affair of beggars and the physically challenged who eke out a living on the pedestrian bridge.

A pedestrian who simply gave her name as Morenikeji told Vanguard Metro that one of the beggars simply known as Alhaji, is not only a beggar, but a veritable street urchin who has been terrorising female pedestrians at late hours. “He sits on top of the bridge to peep at women’s under wears, especially those who wear mini skirts.

At night he pretends as if he is fast asleep but if he sees a woman climbing the bridge, he grabs her skirts in an attempt to rape her. I almost became his victim recently save for divine intervention because he has already removed my skirt not knowing I had a nicker underneath, ” she informed.

Apart from the nefarious activities of this beggar, drainage gutters on both sides of the expressway are almost always blocked, no thanks to sachets of water (pure water) and rubbles from the demolished structures. There is also heaps of refuse sacks deposited at the foot of the  pedestrian bridge which disfigure the place.

Even though another demolition took place there recently, the prevailing situation seem to suggest that KAI officials are constantly outwitted and overwhelmed  by these traders who seem to have mastered the act of staying a step ahead of their tormentors.  For instance, many of them usually mount their wares at the Okota axis of the expressway, especially in the evenings.

Meanwhile, the abandoned Odo-Eran market has been taken over by some of these road side traders. Ironically it was from here they migrated to the expressway in the first place.  Observers are however worried as they say the situation at this market calls for urgent intervention from the government to avert impending environmental disaster.

When Vanguard Metro visited the market on Wednesday, some of the traders lamented the recent development.

“When we were at the express way, we normally record a huge sales, but the relocation has really affected patronage as many of our customers do not know we are here while some of them feel it is too far from the main road. Also, government should help us announce on radio that we are now here,” said a trader who gave her name as Sakirat Omolayo.

To a machine operator, with the new development fortune has suddenly smiled on him. “My sister, I did not have much patronage at the expressway, but now, I make a lot of sales here,” said Chinedu Okorie.

In a chat with the state Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muiz Banire, he said things will soon take a new shape on the express way. “There is going to be a network of roads soon in that area. Already, work is going on at the canal and we shall try our best to give the place a new outlook,” he said.

As for the relocation of the traders, Banire said there are enough stalls in the market.  “All we are doing is to ensure we give them enough information and orientation on how not to endanger their lives. They don’t have to be by the road side before they make a living, a campaign is on to keep them off the road, also, we have started talking to them at interpersonal level and we believe things will take a new shape,” he added.


Lions Club donates to school

The Ilupeju Lions Club, Lagos  last week  donated exercise books worth thousands of naira to the Deep Learning Secondary School, Lagos as parts of its contribution to education development.

The President of the Club, Mrs Abiola Arogundade, said at the event  that students were entitled to quality education, which she noted, was vital to national development. Arogundade said the club had donated textbooks to some schools, and was planning to give computers to some schools to improve students’ knowledge in information technology.

“We are only successful when we install good successors who have been given good education and groomed for the future,” she said .

Mrs. Abiola said education promotion was part of the club’s social responsibility, and that it would continue to contribute to education development. “The government alone cannot do it,” she noted. Arogundade said that the club had sunk boreholes for some communities, and donated mattresses and beds to the Vocational School for the Blind, Oshodi.

NGO sues for safety in air transport
The president, Africa Foundation for Peace ad Love Initiative (AFPLI) Rev Titus Oyeyemi has called for renewed prayers and commitment towards safety in air transport management in Nigeria.

Oyeyemi made this appeal at the 5th National Airspace Safety Prayer programme organised by the Lagos State chapter of the Africa Children of Peace and love club recently at the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency  Murtala Mohamed International Airport, Lagos.

In the same vein, the General Manager, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) SUPO Atobatele has called for faithfulness and sincerity among aviation worker as that will help in avoiding human errors that threatens safety in the sector.

Oyeyemi said that the place of prayer and supplication to God for air safety can never be overemphasized as it remains the best and surest way against any air disaster.

“The idea of praying to God has not failed. We thank God for the staying power of prayer. When we pray, we have the assurance that God answers our prayers”.

Continuing he said: “The need to call ourselves to a national prayer is now urgent more than ever before. In a time like this, when there is economic meltdown, when evil is growing, when resources are scarce, when money is difficult to find, when love is lost, and there is no respect for life”.

He noted that though safety in air Transport requires the best practices to be adhered to, he said “we cannot rule out the God factor who can guaranteed us the needed safety we need at this time.

He recalled the Soliso air crash that claimed the lives of 60 children from Loyalty Jesuits College in Abuja in December 2006 which to him has made them to involve the children in praying to God for the needed air transport safety we need. “This has made us to involve the children in praying for safety in air transport as air crash everyone affect everyone,” he said.