By Niyi Anibaba
Quietly, with the new look Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) BRT terminus and the multi-layered pedestrian bridge along with a flyover and road modernization at Ojodu-Berger, Lagos is becoming noticed for its world class monuments dropping from the ideas-box of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the same way the great Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) have become the attraction of those cities.
These three structures, for ages the cynosure and first port of call of all who visit, remain treasured artistic possessions of their countries. This is so for a couple of reasons. First, they have aesthetic values. As we all know the human sense of assessment cherishes works of art. It is not only the ancient gods of Mount Olympus who loved beautiful phenomena. The mortals they reigned over also bestowed honour on what they considered to be admirable.
Second, such monuments speak of the creativity and ingenuity of man in the face of his mortality.
Many observers agree that what would also emerge at TBS and Ojodu-Berger in Lagos State after final construction work, along with other structures springing up, would place this old federal capital with a population of more than 21 million mark in the league of those mega cities with attractive iconic landmarks.
At TBS, there has been a huge investment by the Ambode administration to modernize the terminus and make it rhyme with the injection of over four hundred new air conditioned luxury buses into the commute system in the state.
The upgrade is featuring spotless-white structures that boast of a meandering roof (white roof as opposed to a conventional blue roof). These sheltering tops roll into one another to suggest a transition from one stand or position to the other. The roofs admit of sunlight but yet prevent the discomfort of the scorching sun. The wavy formation of the roof also reflects the coastal attribute of Lagos State, with the powerful Atlantic waves beating its shores.
The thinking of the government and the designers is obvious. The citizens patronizing BRT must be shielded from the elements even as they wait for the buses. Their comfort is not only to be guaranteed in the air conditioned vehicles. After all the government’s concern for its citizens must not only be for the elites; it must be for all.
Besides, if the government is to be taken seriously in its avowed determination to decongest the streets and lure motorists to leave their cars at home and embrace the BRT, it must create such enticements as comfortable waiting points as well as conducive transit buses. Now it is clear that the Lagos State government has overcome these challenges with what we are witnessing at TBS. The white roof stands are, so to say, an unblemished evidence of government’s success story on that score.
The work at Ojodu-Berger on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway presents a far more ambitious spectacle which is drawing thousands and thousands more to conclude that truly Ambode is out to push Lagos State into a world class city. Numbers may count in determining the status of a city as a global index. But it is necessary also to consider its infrastructural delivery. In this case we can safely point at what is emerging at Ojodu-Berger.
A flyover is also springing up there. Similarly a road is being constructed from Omole (phase 11). All these are expected to eliminate the traffic bottlenecks that characterize that axis and are responsible for severe man-hour losses in traffic congestion. Observers say when completed, these projects would save lives lost in accidents that occur when pedestrians cross the expressway.
Recently at the Town Hall Meeting at Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, Governor Ambode said the iconic projects at TBS and Ojodu-Berger would not be a one-off show. He said his government would push for the replication of these totems of development in other areas of the state. He calls it a new model of governance.
- Anibaba, an economist, lives in Gbagada, Lagos.