When Richard Quest of Cable News Network (CNN), some years back, stood on the Oshodi bridge overlooking the chaotic state of the area and declared that such was all Lagos was all about, many rightly felt upset as there were several landmarks and beautiful places in the state that could stand tall amongst other mega cities across the world.
To them, the western media had taken to the habit of showcasing the bad side of developing countries, while neglecting the good sides.
But with the world class transport interchange coming up in Oshodi in the next 13 to 16 months courtesy of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration, Lagosians and indeed Nigerians can raise their shoulders high and demand that the likes of Richard Quest return to the bridge by 2017 and correct the erroneous impression.
According to statistics, Oshodi, which is the busiest transport interchange in West Africa, in its present state, currently accommodates about one million pedestrians daily with about 100,000 passengers daily accessing the 13 parks scattered within the area, while 76 per cent of the area is dedicated to transport and related activities, which led to serious traffic congestion and other environmental issues.
(Watch video of the new Oshodi here)
Considering the humongous statistics, one can imagine the impact which the regeneration of Oshodi will have not just on the economy, but on security as well as the environment.
According to plans of government, the regeneration of Oshodi into a world class Central Business District (CBD), which is to commence on June 1, 2016, will feature the consolidation of all 13 city and interstate parks in Oshodi into three multi-story bus terminals.
The three floors, which will be 30, 000 square metres for each terminal, will take care of the parking and passenger demand.
Terminal One, running from Mosafejo Market Axis, would be for inter-state transport activities, while the Terminal Two and Three, running from the former Owonifari Market and Adjacent to NAFDAC respectively, will cater for intra-city transport activities.
The terminals would have standard facilities including waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands, driver lounge, parking areas, rest rooms, among others.
It would also come with accessible walkways and pedestrian bridges and a state-of-the-art sky-walk to link all the three terminals, introduction of bus lanes, lay-bys, introduction of green parks to soften the environment and proper waste management strategy, fencing, street lighting and a dedicated security team for Oshodi including surveillance tower, CCTVs and the likes.
The total area of the development of the Oshodi CBD master plan, which is about 70,000 square metres, will also accommodate shopping malls adjacent to the bus terminals.
While speaking at a Stakeholders’ Forum put together by the Office of the Special Adviser on Urban Development, Governor Ambode said the project was in line with his administration’s determination to transform Oshodi into a world class CBD with business, travel and leisure activities conducted in a serene, secure, clean, orderly and hygienic environment.
Speaking earlier at the forum, Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Mrs. Yetunde Onabule, said the concept of the regeneration plan is premised on a three pronged approach including Urban Renewal, Environmental Regeneration as well as Transformation and Security.
Onabule said that the new Oshodi CBD would not only reduce crime in the area, but also go a long way to address the environmental nuisance locations and areas of confusion often associated with the area.
She said the new plan would also boost intra-tourism by making the area a tourist destination and increase the economic value of the State, where business, travel and leisure activities would be conducted in a serene, secure, clean and orderly environment.
“This plan would see the total rebranding of the Old Oshodi, thus turning Lagos into a befitting and an iconic international gateway to the rest of the world. It would also ensure an organised transport system that will ensure free flowing traffic,” she said.
She further explained that the project is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative between the Lagos State Government represented by Ibile Holdings, Translink Capital Development Limited and Planet Projects Limited.
At the forum which was attended by traditional rulers, community leaders, market leaders and transport workers, the interchange won the instant acceptance of the stakeholders, but with a caveat that other fora of such should be organized to carry everybody along.
The takeaway at the forum again necessitated another Stakeholders’’ Forum presided over by Governor Ambode, where he said the project, which is expected to gulp $70 million, would go a long way to depict the regeneration plan of the State, just as he said that the project would also totally remove all notorious activities associated with the area.
Addressing the stakeholders, the Governor said: “I am so happy that we are working together on this project. What we are doing today is what we have been planning for long and our plan is to transform some notorious areas in the State to places like Victoria Island. Oshodi is known for all kinds of notorious activities and we want to totally do away with that belief and the best way to go about it is to give the people world class facility and make them to live better lives.
“We want the people in Oshodi to be identified with good and not bad things all the time and that was what made us to decide that the kind of development going on in Victoria Island, Lekki and other places should take place in Oshodi as well. I mean, I find it very disturbing that our children in Oshodi would have to travel to Lekki or Ikeja to have access to good shopping mall. So, what we have decided is to regenerate Oshodi.
“Now, if we say there are 13 Bus parks all scattered in Oshodi. Can we put these Bus parks in the same place? You know it is not possible for me to bring the drivers or the buses to Oshodi. It would still be the people who are currently operating there. But the plan is that those who are operating there now, we can make life more comfortable for them and they would still be the ones operating the buses.
“The issue is that when we transform the terminals, what kind of buses should fit into the new look and that is why we are engaging all the stakeholders, especially the transport people. We can take away all these yellow buses and put these other buses but you will be the operators, and all we are only doing is to provide you with world class terminals that you would even be asking is this happening in my lifetime. So, instead of scattering ourselves all over, let all of us be in one very well organized and secured place,” Governor Ambode said.
Among other plans, according to the Governor, is the provision of about 800 modern buses which would run 24/7 and would convey Lagosians to all parts of the State in a more comfortable arrangement.
Speaking on the market, Governor Ambode said the new transport interchange would accommodate world class containerized shopping mall with recreation and entertainment facilities, while the existing market men and women in Oshodi would be the same people to be allocated with the shops.
“I plead for your tolerance because eventually this whole thing is coming back to you but we must have achieved so much. You see, Oshodi is the entrance point from the international Airport and it create the image of where we want to go and once we are able to create that image, nobody will ever remember Oshodi in their head for anything bad. The only thing that would be left is for us to ensure that the road from Oshodi to international Airport meets international standard and by that, we would have regenerated that part of Lagos for good,” Governor Ambode said.
Responding, Lagos State NURTW Chairman, Mr. Tajudeen Agbede, commended the governor for the initiative, and expressed the readiness of his members to support government to make the project a reality.
In the final analysis, if the project sees the light of day as expected, the present administration would have succeeded in transforming one of the most notorious areas in the state into the cynosure of all eyes.