…Rains or no rain, please fix the road now- Motorists beg Sanwo-Olu
…We ‘ll commence repairs next month – Sanwo-Olu
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State, with an estimated population of 23 million people which grows by the day, in recent times has been songs of lamentations from motorists and commuters plying the, roads owing to chaotic traffic situation occasioned by various ongoing reconstruction road projects, as well as terrible potholes across the state leaving the condition of most road infrastructure in total collapse.
The situation has practically brought businesses and other activities to their crawling state as motorists, commuters spend several hours to get to their destinations which normally should take not more than 45 minutes. As a result of the situation, commercial bus operators have hiked transport fares to over 100 per cent, thus, inflicting more pains on the already depressed commuters.
There is almost no area in the state that is spared, but the worst-hit areas are: Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway up to Ikeja Along, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Oworosoki- Oshodi Expressway, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Funsho-Wiliams Avenue, by Contain area, which has been closed to traffic for construction work on the Constain bridge.
The worst hit inner roads, include Ikotun Ejigbo-Isolo Road, with particular reference to NNPC Junction in front of Ejigbo Local Government Area, as well as Iyana Ejigbo. Also Cele-Ikotun Road. Egbeda-Idimu Road, particularly, the embarrassing failed portion of road in front of Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Powerline Road, same LCDA. Ekoro Road, Abule Egba area.
Others are: Kirikiri Road, Apapa, which had worsen traffic gridlock caused by truck operators who have taken over the road leaving little or no space for other road users. Satellite Town Road, Oriade LCDA, Otto-Wharf Bandary Road, Ajegunle, In Ajeromi- Ifekodun LGA. Chivita-Canoe Road, Oshodi-Isolo LGA, Isheri-Osun, Ikotun-Igando, LCDA, Ishawo Road, Ikorodu, among others.
It is terrible these days for commuters and motorists to navigate through Lagos-Badagry Expressway. Plying the international road has been hectic due to several failed portions on both sides of the highway, worsened by persistent rainfall which has forced motorists to spend hours manoeuvring the road.
When Vanguard visited the road, it was gathered that the continued gridlock has forced several motorists to abandon their vehicles at Okokomaiko or home. They now either board a commercial motorcycle, popularly called “Okada” or trekked to avoid being stuck in traffic.
It was further observed that sections of the road between Okokomaiko and Mile 2 were dotted with potholes. At Ojo military cantonment, a gully filled with rainwater was sighted preventing motorists from having easy movement. Also, Okada riders were not spared as they were forced to carry their motorcycles to prevent suffering the fate of vehicle owners.
Motorists, commuters narrate plight
Worried by the development, residents, commuters continue to groan from pains and challenges arising from the deplorable state of roads in the state.
Also, miscreants have sized the opportunity to rob motorists both day and night at gridlock sites.
Thus, to alleviate the suffering of the public, motorists have appealed to the State government to be proactive with or without persistent rainfall which the state government has given a major challenge to fixing the roads
Speaking to Vanguard, a commuter, Mr Akin Alade lamented, “Lackadaisical attitude of the authorities towards road repair is adding more pain to hardship already being experienced by lots of road users and Lagosians, the money we spend on transportation these days is so high and also affecting masses adversely.”
“We are appealing to the government to take drastic steps in reducing the pains and sufferings road users are going through day and night. Whether there is rain or not, we beg the governor to do continuous palliative of the deplorable road pending permanent solution for people to commute.”
NURTW, drivers relieve experience
Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, (NURTW), as well as concerned citizens last Tuesday, sent their candid appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the need to save the situation by fixing the state roads as well as the already agreed deal on some federal roads.
They expressed worry on the continued neglect of the roads
Motorists lamented that the poor state of the roads which is majorly caused by wide potholes has brought untold hardship on road users as quality man-hour is being lost on daily basis due to attendant traffic congestion.
Though they noted that most of the highways are under the authority of Federal Government, motorists called for concerted efforts to fix the roads in the interest of the tax paying public.
A commercial driver who plies Ikotun- Cele Bus Stop, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Abel Babalola, said, “Its a horrendous task working every day along the Ikotun road. No single road is motorable. We spend hours on the road because all other roads that supposed to serve as alternatives are also in terrible state.
“We are begging the state and the local government to come to our aid. Or is this the “Change” they promised us during electoral campaign.”
Also, Jelili Ajanu, a driver along Iyana-Iba -Mile 2, along Lagos Badagry Expressway, lamented, “The stress we encounter daily on this road has been responsible for hike in fare, particularly, at evening because we have to navigate through several roads to reduce travel time.
“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 have to find a way round it through other means, that is, increasing the fares.”
Also, reacting to the outburst from residents, Chief Press Secretary to Sanwo-Olu, Gboyega Akosile, assured that the governor was working “round the clock” to ensure that Lagos works.
Akosile assured that Sanwo-Olu would embark on road construction across the state after the raining season.
In a tweet, Akosile wrote:
“Gov @jidesanwoolu is working round the clock to ensure that Lagos works. He has achieved cleaner environment, improved security, health, bursary, etc. He will embark on aggressive road constructions/repairs but this can only be done effectively after the rains. Pls, bear with us.”
The clarification came following tweets gathered by NAIJALOADED on Lagosians venting their anger on the governor read below:
@Osi_Suave: “Not Making an Excuse for Sanwoolu, but the roads have always been bad. He resumed in May and we are in October but we see the Lagos state Public works dept fixing roads every day. We are 17m people living in the smallest state in Nigeria. 17m is the population of some countries.”
@Osi_Suave: “Cos as small as Lagos is. You cant shutdown the smallest highway or inner road for construction and not expect chaos. Before I start complaining about Sanwoolu I’d give him 1 year.”
@OlaseniOladejo: “This is the same thing Sanwoolu has been telling himself in Lagos. And you can fix a road during the raining season. There’s massive work going on all around Apapa, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and other places.”
@theofficialFEMI: “2months into his first term, you could tell Fashola had a sense of purpose. Oh! He took over in May too just like SanwoOlu.”
@theofficialFEMI: “It’s funny when you people make excuses for Lagos state govt. We’ve had the same party running Lagos since 1999 and I’m not sure they’ve built up to 20 new roads from the scratch. They can’t even maintain the existing roads. SanwoOlu took over from his fellow party man.”
@nawtiebukky: “LAGOSIANS: 100 days in Office! We are not seeing him and/or his works! Independence Month! Nowhere to be found! Where is Sanwoolu??”
@SirLeoBDasilva: “Let’s assume Sanwoolu doesn’t have money to fix roads or street lights. Does he need money from stopping containers and tankers from moving at peak hours? Lagos is a huge and unbearable mess at the moment.”
@iconicENGR: “Tayad of spending over 6hrs daily in Lagos Traffic. I’m working from home today as Sanwoolu is governing Lagos in his dream. Traffic everywhere, flooding on major highways, Lastma becoming erratic, BRT busses are even scarce. Roads that need URGENT attention: Ikeja Along.”
@GodswillEjelonu: Sanwoolu made excuses at @theplatformng that bitumen for road construction doesn’t augur well during the rainy season & we should expect massive reconstruction during the dry season, other governors also share these sentiments.”
@Oluomoofderby: “@jidesanwoolu Should come out and apologise. He should be ashamed of himself.
We clearly don’t have a governor in Lagos but a scum bag. How on earth can you drive towards oncoming vehicles Mr Sanwoolu. Our leaders behave like animals compared to leaders in other societies.”
@iconicENGR: “Alternative Routes along Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Mile 2 – Badagry axis is pathetic, the whole of Victoria Island when it rains would be a suicide mission plying. Lagos State is on Auto-Pilot with Sanwoolu.”
@Adeshola_Konka: “Who would have thought, that The Sanwoolu we saw even in our Dreams Pre-election. With posters about like flies on a carcass is now Mute and Even Absent.”
Sanwo-Olu speaks on plans
Apparently, responding to public outcry over the state of roads, for the first time since assumption of office, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has come out publicly to say that efforts of his administration in the last four months to bring about sustainable solution to traffic challenge in the state is being hampered by inherited huge debts and paucity of funds.
According to Sanwo-Olu, Sanwo-Olu, who said his administration had various programmes lined up to address the current challenges in the state, lamented that the implementation of his development agenda had largely been slowed down by a number of irrevocable financial liabilities tied to the state’s resources by his immediate predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Beyond a short-term fix that resulted in the ongoing rehabilitation of highways and arterial roads, the governor said Lagos would be expanding the capacity of its water transportation and leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to address various chaoses in the mass transit system.
The governor spoke as a guest at The Platform Nigeria, a yearly programme to mark October 1st, Independence Day, organised by the Covenant Christian Centre, Orile-Iganmu, Lagos. The
Sanwo-Olu said: “We have to look at the finances of the state. But, I know I cannot give excuses to Lagosians that I met the state in financial mess. It would amount to meaningless stories. And nobody will never know the real status of finances of any state until they get there. It is until I got there that I realised how bad we are in terms of outstanding liabilities, financial commitments to local banks and Federal Government’s bonds.”
The governor, however, said that efforts were on to widen the tax net and improve the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State, which, he said, would be used to fund some of the pending capital projects, like roads.
Sanwo-Olu, who cautioned critics of his four-month-old government, said that the period was “too short” to measure the impact of the administration. “I believe in proper planning of key programmes before implementation of decisions that would affect lives of the people.”
Meantime, the governor added that his cabinet had approved the deployment of a six-kilometre wide metropolitan fibre optic cable to be laid across the city. “Upon completion, it would deliver fast Internet broadband to all residents across the length and breadth of the state.”
The project, which is expected to be delivered in four months, the governor said would be used to drive compliance with the state’s traffic laws as well as expand the capacities of its waterways.
Giving details about why Lagos would continue to experience traffic congestion, Sanwo-Olu said more than 10 per cent of the nation’s 180 million population resides in the state, adding that Lagos also has a vehicular movement average of 240 vehicles per kilometre as against the national average, which ranges between 11 and 15 vehicles per kilometre.
With regards to this, the Governor said there would always be traffic congestion on Lagos roads, but stressed that the transportation programmes of his administration were developed to proffer solution that would reduce the residents’ pains.
According to him,“To solve Lagos traffic problems from short to medium term basis, we have decided to come up with intermodal transport scheme, which will simultaneously see us developing capacities in waterways, rail and terrestrial mass transit.
“Our intervention is largely focused on the road because it is the most used method of transportation. Once the rainy season passes, we are going to embark on extensive road rehabilitation across the state.
“The Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, programme is on course and we have taken delivery of additional 800 buses, which we are currently trying to clear from the Nigerian Port. Once this is done, we will be able to remove a lot of yellow commercial buses off the road and we will have articulated buses in line with our transportation plan.
“Our medium to long-term plan involves the strengthening of water transportation system. We have just acquired about seven new boats and we are about introducing ‘water taxis’ that can ferry about 60 to 80 passengers each on a single trip. In our long-term plan, we are developing our rail system by completing the Blue Line, which started from Mile 2 to Marina.”
Similarly, on Thursday, an event called “A the night of engagement on ‘Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,’ a programme organised by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, in partnership with the Lagos State Government, appealed to residents to exercise patience as he planned to resume work on Lagos roads by November. speaking on the state of roads, Sanwo-Olu explained that the potholes have remained unfixed due to persistent rains in the city.
He said: “We came on May 29, and rain started in April and they are not just small rain. So, the issues are that we came in at a season in which there is huge rainfall, some potholes have been created before but with rain, we have more potholes, bitumen and rain don’t work together, no amount of investment or contractor we put to fix a road during raining season will stay because it will be washed away.
“I want to appeal to Lagosians that the rains will subside in November.
“Lagos has over 10,000 roads and as I speak we have been able to fix about 180 roads and we just awarded 116 roads and I hope when we start in November, the story will not be that there are too many roads we are constructing,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of traffic on roads, he said the state is commencing Uber boat, lady Friday, (Friday), a technology-driven boat. He said the initiative is part of the efforts of the state government to decongest the roads.
He continued:/“This city called Lagos represents 0.4 per cent of the total of this country and of that number, one-third of it is water so, there will be traffic but we will certainly solve it.
“So, the solutions are in two-level, it’s either we do extensive work on public transportation, we cannot do an underground because Lagos is bellowed the sea level and we cannot escalate anything.”