Lagos today has become somewhat hellish with too many infrastructure and security problems to contend with while those in governance play politics with practically everything.
Lagosians waited with bated breath and high hopes for a new lease of life, that the new dispensation led by Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu, will herald transformation.
This is even more so when one considers the rhetoric that visited his campaign. That hope for many seems to have been extinguished as quickly as it was birthed.
In the past one year, the state has been plagued by a plethora of challenges ranging from insecurity, dilapidated roads across the length and breadth of the state, plus an archaic mode of transportation on the unmanned waterways where boat mishaps are recorded on a near-daily basis.
Even the viral video of a little boy seen pleading with his mum to calm down while he was being reprimanded for wrong doing became a political tool for relevance. With it, the governor thought it wise to jump on the trend by telling Lagosians to calm down, amid a Lagos with failed infrastructure and the attendant cost on residents.
A public analyst, Dipo Oni, could not contain his frustration with the poor Lagos Infrastructure during a chat with MoneyCentral as he noted that Life has become unbearable in the nation’s commercial capital.
“You move around the city and you are confronted by hoodlums in traffic. The area boy syndrome, coupled with the thuggery seen in parks and bus stops is now the uncomfortable norm to the extent that one wonders if the Governor is oblivious to the monsters on the road,” Oni said.
“Ikoyi and Victoria Island appear to be the only locations sheltered from this storm of hooliganism. But for how long more?”
He noted that commuters in Oshodi, Mile 2, Alakija, Okoko, Abule Egba, Iyana Ipaja, Orile, Coker, Surulere, Ajao, Ikeja, Festac, Ajegunle, and Oworonshoki on the outskirts of Lagos are smarting from the hardship inflicted by the gridlock resulting from the closure of 3rd Mainland due to ongoing repair work.
“There are reports of night time robberies executed by armed boys amid traffic gridlock and sometimes in broad light. They shatter windscreens, maim Drivers, commuters and passers-by and dispossess them of their valuables. The nightmare is best imagined”.
“The roads? Another kettle of fish! There’s an endless line of craters and articulated vehicles dominating a valuable portion of the highway on much of Apapa/Oshodi and Lagos/Badagry expressway. Another tale of sorrow for commuters who must ply that axis daily. Every now and then the Trailers and Truck which are not regulated despite existing laws guiding them, fall at will on numerous occasions causing untimely deaths with no consequence to the offenders.”
Oni, explained that, the vehicles are usually in deplorable conditions and are hardly registered or checked by the relevant agencies.
“What you see is that the authorities who should enforce the laws of road worthiness and traffic control like FRSC, VIO, LASTMA and the police allow them run dangerously on the roads as they prefer to harass passenger cars. Lagos State Government has also refused to deal with this problem decisively despite uncountable tragic incidences that has claimed many lives to date.”
He added that there was a recent visit by the governor’s representative to the mother of a promising young girl who lost her life to these daredevil trailers due to an unlatched container that claimed her live and that of her colleague while returning from work.
“A lot of promises were made during the visit to the grieving mother. Our collective wish is that all that was said and more should be done to resolve this major challenge so the gridlock and deaths caused by these death merchants be curtailed once and for all.”
Oni continued: “I tell you the sight of Lagos roads these days is an eyesore. The gridlock experienced is what makes Lagosians vulnerable to attacks. You then wonder what he was voted for. To assume the esteemed position, then come and play deaf and dumb to several SOS for a solution to the deplorable state of the so called smart city, with the battle against COVID 19 as a front for ineptitude. No, it is irresponsible to perpetually take people for a ride.”
According to Oni, the previous governor, Akinwunmi Ambode was no better as he also left the roads in a state of disrepair, while constantly blaming the rain and ignoring calls to fix Lagos.
The bad performance of these Governors has compelled a longing for the days of Babatunde Fashola, thereby making a myth out of the former Governor.
These where the days when roads were rehabilitated, new roads were constructed and ongoing projects were monitored zealously.
It might be too early to tell. Perhaps the Governor and his team could wake up from their slumber before the expiration of their remaining tenure in office.
Still this remains a tall order because the tell-tale signs of negligence of Lagos Infrastructure are there unless we see a drastic change, according to Oni.
A resident of Lagos, Segun Akanbi, lamented that, “the current Governor came in with a lot of promise, performed fairly but has now diverted focus to the fight against COVID 19 at the detriment of other aspects, especially roads.”
Investigations by MoneyCentral reporters that took a week to crisscross the megacity shows that there is almost no area in the state that is spared huge portions of bad roads, but the worst-hit locations are: Mile 2, Abule Ado, Alakija, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway down to Ikeja Along, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Oworosoki- Oshodi Expressway, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Ikorodu Road, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Funsho-Wiliams Avenue, by Costain area, which has been closed to traffic for construction work on the Costain bridge.
Others are: Kirikiri Road, Apapa, which has worsened traffic gridlock caused by truck operators who as noted earlier, have made the expressway, their parking lot. Other areas suffering similar fate are Satellite Town Road, Oriade LCDA, Otto-Wharf Boundary Road, Ajegunle, In Ajeromi- Ifelodun LGA. Chivita-Canoe Road, Oshodi-Isolo LGA, Isheri-Osun, LCDA, Ishawo, Road, Idimu Pipeline, Ikorodu, among others.
These days, it is also a dreadful experience for commuters and motorists who ply Lagos-Badagry Expressway due to several failed portions on both sides of the highway. A few weeks back this was worsened by persistent rainfall and resulting in the loss of valuable man-hours and revenue on an international route.
With the closure of the 3rd Mainland Bridge and inaccessibility of alternative roads left undone even after what amounted to a political speak by the governor, the pain has since doubled.
Analysts say the current neglect of Lagos Infrastructure is a bitter pill administered on all to curb the spread of COVID 19.
They say Government’s non-responsiveness is a demonstration of lack of vision and rather than ensure the continuance of road rehabilitation and construction during the lockdown, the State Government preferred to ignore such calls from technocrats and Nigerians.
It will be recalled that sometime in May, the governor encouraged the use of waterways. Yet the initiative has so far proved more of a publicity stunt than a serious attempt to solve the city’s chronic transportation problem aggravated by exponential population growth and flooding.
A recent study indicates that at least three of every ten years spent in Lagos is lost to traffic. It means Lagosians spend an average of seven hours 20 minutes in traffic every day.
An economic analyst, Kolapo Oluwo averred that the long hours spent daily in traffic with its attendant economic as well as health, emotional and relational costs are colossal.
“For a potential megacity and the economic hub of the country it shows ineptitude and lack lustre leadership, despite media campaigns and allusions to the contrary.”
He noted that: “Lagos is the commercial, economic, as well as financial capital of Nigeria accounting for over 50 percent of the industrial and commercial establishments, as well as 70 percent of manufacturing activities. In addition, it has the most active stock exchange in West Africa; its ports collectively handle about 75 and 90 percent of the country’s imports and non-oil exports by weight respectively. Even more, its international airport handles about 80 percent of airborne exports and imports and 80 percent of passenger movements in and out of the country.”
Oluwo Further said, “the state’s population has continued to grow rapidly – put at between six to eight percent per annum – and is a dragnet for school leavers and other economic migrants from other parts of the country. It is projected that the population of the city will grow to 36 million by 2050.”
An Economist, Emeka Ohanyere buttressed this saying despite its huge population and importance, road travel is the city’s most common and available means of transport. Rail and water transportation are meanwhile relatively under-developed in Lagos.
A $1.4 billion light rail system meant to help solve the traffic nightmare remains uncompleted 12 years after construction began.
CCECC is constructing the 27k Blue line in two phases.
The first phase includes the National Theatre to Mile 2 section and the second involves the Mile 2 to Okokomaiko section.
Construction of the Blue line was initially expected to be completed by 2011 but has been delayed indefinitely due to funding issues.
“Years of political wrangling, massive corruption underinvestment and poor maintenance of existing transport infrastructure has seen Lagos lag behind other major global cities in the utilisation of efficient public transportation system such as urban rail system and modern high capacity buses. If the state is continually run in this manner, it might never attain the lofty new Lagos it craves,” Ohanyere said.