By Chioma Gabriel
Yes, it is the same Lagos that I’m talking about. Lagos is dead, murdered by bad leadership over the years. If you are living elsewhere and is nursing a dream about Lagos and the beautiful life, just know you are having a nightmare. The dream of a beautiful Lagos has been murdered by bad administration, selfish politicians and greedy businessmen. You don’t need to know their names but their actions speak louder than words.
Lagos is locked down. People sleep in traffic. There are no roads and where there seem to be, their bad conditions have hindered movements. The average Lagosian is a victim. Every road is a pot hole and if you want to make a choice, it would be which pothole is deeper and how would you avoid deeper potholes. But there are no smooth roads anymore.
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Lagos has been murdered and it didn’t just happen. Only that now, it’s burial is getting completed.
The problem with Lagos is the offshoot of failed promises handed down by subsequent governments at federal and state levels. The politicians say one thing and mean another. They make promises bearing in mind that they would never execute them. They make political statements on how to fix the dilapidated port access roads, yet the nation’s business gateway suffers from the same problem.
And how do I know? I know because my office is located in the midst of the chaos; the chaos visited upon Lagos by politicians of yester-years and today who lied to Nigerians about what they planned to do for the people. How many tank farms are located around the ports and who owns them? Now, the owners of the tank farms and other trailer-related businesses are the people that destroyed Lagos. Some are past leaders. Others are current leaders and they are bigger than Nigeria and other Nigerians. They may be four or five; six or eight but they are selfish and care about themselves and not about others. The destiny of over 120 million
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Nigerians are in the hands of these few people and because of them, an entire city is ruined; because of them, other businesses have been asked to go to hell; because of them, other road users have been asked to move to Siberia because the businesses of the few Nigerians located around the ports come first and these are the real owners of the roads. Others have been told they have no business living or operating around the area. We heard from the grapevine that even Nigerian Ports Authority will soon have to relocate and those in charge mean business.
Politicians past and present were consistently promising to end the protracted gridlock in Oshodi-Apapa and around the ports. The current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised to end it within 60 days in office. But the truth is: the gridlocks have just matured to a new level. Sanwo-Olu has denied promising to end the gridlock in 60 days. The presidency and its task force on the gridlock have also failed. In fact, it’s as if the presidency is not being told the truth about what is going on in Apapa ports and its environs.
From all indications, it’s also obvious that Governor Sanwo-Olu does not understand the problem. As long as the tank farms and the tank-farmers are the untouchable Nigerians, that problem will never be solved. Why would any government approve so many tank-farms to be located within a small community causing thousands of containers to flood the area and the entire Lagos?
What happened to the trailer parks in Lagos and other places and why are there not enough? Why are the trailers refusing to park where they should and prefer blocking the roads? Why are they untouchable?
Why are the terminal operators and the NPA which are responsible for the provision of holding bays and which collect holding bay fees so loud in their silence?
The federal government should do something about the problem in conjunction with the business men who are holding our nation captive and creating economic issues.
Why was the land earmarked for trailer park at Orile converted to a housing scheme? A state like Lagos which habours four ports and control 80% of the cargoes that come into the country should at least have enough trailer parks to keep them off the roads.
When President Buhari ordered operators of trucks and tankers to vacate the ports access roads within 72 hours, nobody knows the report he was given. Perhaps they told him there’s now a free access from Oshodi to the ports but that would be a blatant lie. The situation is worse and the suffering has spread all over Lagos and is now compounded by bad roads everywhere. Each time one thinks something was about to happen, things would suddenly turn worse and one is hit with the truth that the situation would never change.
We should face reality. There are many interests on the access roads to the ports and because of the problems, the entire Lagos is affected. There are tankers and containers everywhere to service the greed of businessmen and politicians who own the businesses around the ports.
Believe it or not, the Lagos situation has become an embarrassment to Nigeria. Lagos has become a freedom square for the operators of tankers and containers. They are above any law that governs a sane society. The business owners are big men who tower over the whole nationand because of them, Lagos is what it is today and things don’t seem likely to change in the nearest future.
Eko o ni baje o