By Dapo Akinrefon & Monsuru Olowoopejo
RESIDENTS and commuters plying the Okokomaiko-Badagry end of Lagos-Badagry Expressway have continued to lament the deplorable state of the road.
The road is in a bad shape.
Now, a journey that ought to take less than one hour from Okokomaiko to Badagry takes about three hours.
The ever busy road, incidentally an international route to other West African countries, has been abandoned by both the Federal and Lagos State governments.
It is instructive to note here that prior to the administration of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the centre, palliative work was usually carried out on the road by previous governments.
Perhaps, the abandonment of the road can be attributed to the cold war between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN.
Commuters and residents have had to lament the continued refusal by both federal and state governments to carry out repair works on the road.
The road has become so deplorable that areas such as Iyana-Ishashi, Ijanikin, Agbara, Magbon, Oko-Afo, Elijah and Mowo are no longer motorable as vehicles now ply one way to get to their various destinations.
In fact, when an aide to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State disclosed to Vanguard that four investors had strongly indicated interest to commit funds for expansion of the Okokomaiko-Badagry end of Lagos-Badagry Expressway, residents heaved a sigh of relief as they envisaged an end to the suffering they experience daily on the road.
Commuters and residents along the ever busy road had anticipated that the government would soon unveil the preferred investor for the road; sign a Memorandum of Understanding and the investor would commence work a few weeks later.
Being a major road that links Lagos to other West African countries, it is one of the busiest roads in the country.
Unfortunately, the road has not been given the adequate attention it needs forcing many residents to panic as the rainy season began.
With the rainy season gaining momentum, the road is now worsened as with the potholes causing heavy traffic snarls.
As a result of the bad road, vehicles break down on some bad spots and motorists have no option than to slow down at various intervals to avoid their cars from being damaged.
Worried by the state of the road, the outgone Raji Fashola administration in Lagos kick-started expansion works on the road over eight years ago, with a yearly commitment of funds to ensure its actualisation.
The road expansion, which had been divided into phases to ease construction, would have a rail system to serve as an alternative.
The first phase was Orile-Mazamaza, second phase; Mazamaza-Okokomaiko while the third phase is Okokomaiko to Badagry.
Though the first phase is over 90 per cent completed, the construction work is on the second phase which is about 24.5 kilometres.
To aid easy construction, it was divided into three segments, Mazamaza-Okokomaiko, which has been divided into three segments; Mazamaza-Agboju; Segment I, Agboju-Trade Fair; Segment II, and Trade Fair-Okokomaiko, Segment III.
Understandably, work on some portions have been completed especially Orile-Mile 2, which was the reason Governor Ambode said that the section would soon be fully utilised, basically to reduce travel time.
While it is accepted that the Orile-Okokomaiko end of the road is under construction, hell simply takes over from the portion where the ongoing construction ends.
A trip on the road could leave a first time visitor to the country through Seme Border wondering if the government understands the importance of the road to its economy.
Tongues have continued to wag on why the government allowed the road users to suffer.
The situation of the road, built over 30 years ago, becomes even more complex with the growing population along the corridor with many communities and small industries springing up to reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Tales of woe
For the residents, it is sad that the journey of less than an hour now takes hours depending on how versatile and smart the driver was in navigating the road.
It was gathered that presently, residents of the areas are fed up with the daily trauma the road causes, even as they stressed that the cause of the hold-up was the bad road and potholes often caused by the rain and the recklessness of some drivers on the road.
They lamented that the state of the international highway has continued to affect business activities, urging the federal and state governments to rehabilitate the road to end gridlock.
A resident, Martins Aije, described the agony encountered daily on the road as worrisome saying: “After spending several minutes there, the next encounter is at Iyana-Era where it is often a tug-of-war because the road is in a deplorable state. For instance, if your driver is not smart, you can spend appreciable time there, and that does not include the damage the road might have done to your vehicle. Leaving there, you have Agbara where you manoeuvre to avoid huge potholes on the road. So we need the federal and state governments’ intervention on the road.”
Another resident, Mike Adesoyin, said: “Many, who cannot withstand the traffic on the road caused by bad portions, resort to okada, violating the Road Traffic Law 2012. One cannot blame them because if the road were good, no one would wish to go by okada but when the road is bad and one wishes to arrive home early, he has no option than to take the risk.”
An angry commercial driver said: “You know we are the major road users because it serves as the source of our income. And when they are bad, it affects the number of trips we can embark upon daily. And when the number is reduced, we would aim to cover them up through other means.
“Whenever I realize going through the road especially at Iyana-Era, would affect my income at that time, I navigate through Aka road to Ajangbadi, link Ilogbo and so on before navigating back to the road. You know one has to device means to ensure he does not burn so much fuel on the road.”
When Vanguard contacted the Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr. Adedamola Kuti, to seek his reaction over the deplorable state of the road, he hinted that the federal government does not have any project within the axis.