By Bose Adebayo
UNTIL recently, Oshodi was always in the news for the wrong reasons. Its popularity derives from the fact that it is that part of Lagos that is commercially active 24 hours a day,Â attracting a large turn out of people on daily basis obviously on account of itsÂ strategic location which makes it easy for commuters to board vehicles to their various destinations.
The demolition of shanties and illegal structuresÂ there early this year has also succeeded in restoring sanity to the various motor parks at Oshodi. Recently, it was jubilation galore at some of these motor parks when the Lagos State governmentâ€™s earlier promise to light up Oshodi and its environs was fulfilled.
Since then, some of these motor parks have been wearing a bright, new look. The street lighting project was said to have been carried out as part of efforts to give Lagos a befitting face-lift before the commencement this month of the Federation of International Football Associations(FIFA)-organised Under-17 World Cup which Nigeria is hosting. Lagos is one of the selected host centres of this competition.
From the Abeokuta Express way, one begins to notice the street lightsÂ from the popular Ile Zik down to Ikeja Along, Sogunle, Alasia, Ladipo, Bolade, Oshodi-Under bridge Cappa and then through Mushin and its environs. At the same time,Â the street light poles are a sight to behold atÂ Oshodi-Oke and Charity to the Airport .
Presently, it can be said that Oshodi has undergone an amazing transformation courtesy of some painstaking beautification of its environs with flood lights ensuring that it is well-lit at night.
The lights are usually switched on as from 7pm on daily basis, even though they are being powered by generating sets as a result of the erratic power supply in Nigeria.
Not only this, most motor parks there nowÂ wear a decent appearance that conveys a feeling of safety unlike what obtains in the past.
Some motorists who spoke with Vanguard Metro said they now enjoy better patronage because commuters now feel secured to enter the motor parks unlike when the motor parks were always dark.
Some others told Vanguard Metro that the lights have so far reduced cases of pickpocketing or robbery in some of these motor parks as there are no longer any hiding places for criminals.
â€œThank God for Fashola for what Oshodi has become. Now if a needle falls to the ground, it can never get lost. Passengers can now feel free to enter the park at any time unlike before when they are always afraid to board vehicles at night,â€ said Tunde Lar, a commercial driver at Ojuelegba garage
For a commuter Sakirat Fashola: â€œMy sister, there is no cause for alarm because there is no hiding place for touts any longer. The street light has lit up every part of Oshodi and cases of robbery and pickpocketing will soon be over. You can see people going about with a lot of confidenceâ€.
â€˜â€™The era of nefarious activities at motor parks are over. Area Boys and touts should look forÂ decent jobs to do now because the lights will expose all their hiding places,â€ said a commercial driver by name â€˜Turaya lomoâ€™
Also, some call centre operators said the lights might gradually reduce the difficulties they experience due to poor power supply. Many of them said they are no longer faced with the strenuous task of carrying generating sets to the locations.
â€œAs long as the street light is on, we donâ€™t have to bring our generating sets to the locations except for those who engage in charging of phones,â€ said a call centre operator.
â€œWell who knows whether it will continue like this. The government have really tried for us provided they can keep up the good works. Maintenance will surely be the problem because every Lagosian knows that whatever comes from the government is not properly maintained.
There must surely be hoodlums in government who might not supply diesel to power the generating sets,â€ another retail business operator there.
Ladipo, PWD residents appeal to Fashola over LASTMAâ€™s excesses
Residents of Ladipo, Ikeja-Along and PWD areas of Lagos have appealed to the Lagos State government to curb the excesses of some LASMA officials in these places.
According to them, the unscrupulous actions by these officials have discouraged many commercial drivers from picking or dropping passengers at bus-stops located in these areas. â€œFor the past one year, commuters usually wait endlessly for buses whose driver oftenÂ ignore them on the excuse by stopping in these places they can easily fallÂ prey to these LASTMA officials,â€ they said.
Vanguard Metroâ€™s investigation revealed that commuters going to Ikeja-Along would have to alight at National while those going to PWD and Ladipo would alight at Sogunle before they trek back to their various bus-stops.
Also, commuters would have to trek to National or Ladipo bus-stop before they can board vehicles to their various locations .
Some commercial drivers who spoke with this reporter said they have been finding it difficultÂ picking or dropping passengers at these bus-stops because they are usually arrested by LASTMA officials at the slightest opportunity.
Ikuforiji appeals for Ekpeâ€™s release
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji has appealed for the release of the General Manager of the Independent Television and Radio, Benin City, Mr. Martin Ekpe.
Ikuforiji, in a press statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Lanre Odubote, charged the Police to ensure Ekpe is found hale and hearty, saying it would add value to the on-going peace process in the Niger Delta region.
Ekpe, according to media reports, was kidnapped by unknown people in Benin City recently while returning home from office. It was also reported that a lifeless body of an unnamed Frenchman was found opposite Oluwakemi Petrol Station, Ishofin Estate, Abeokuta, a day after he was kidnapped.
Ikuforiji, who was piqued by the abduction, said: â€œEkpeâ€™s release is fundamental in view of the prevailing peaceful settlement of crises, particularly in the Niger Deltaâ€.
Hostage taking and kidnapping which he said are the order of the day â€œportend serious security threat and negative signs against the development of human and material resources in the countryâ€.
He equally observed that journalists handle special assignments, because â€œthey are involved in the development of every sector of human lifeâ€, noting that they â€œought to be accorded special recognition and respect by all the peopleâ€.