- Time to focus more on rehabilitation
It is understandable for residents and motorists plying the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in the Owode/Iyako/Iyana-Ilogbo areas in Ado-Ado Local Government Area of Ogun State to openly lament their frustration over the state of the road. The road, which should be an alternative for travellers going to Lagos from Abeokuta and vice versa is in a terrible state. Indeed, if the road is not in its present deplorable condition, it would have taken off the stress experienced by many motorists plying those routes who compulsorily have to use the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, leading to avoidable traffic congestion often experienced on that busy road.
For traders, residents and motorists on that axis, it is different folks, different strokes. A resident who preferred anonymity said of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway: “I stay at Iyana Cele, but the traffic jam usually extends to Owode. Whenever I am coming home, I have to alight from the bus at Owode and trek to Iyana Cele on a daily basis.
“In fact, sometimes in our attempt to compete with motorcyclists, they knock us down and we fight back. May God save us from this hardship and neglect we are being subjected to by the government.”
Another resident, Mr Habib Anifowose, said, “The contractor has stopped the job and we are suffering. For instance, the last time it rained, over 354 houses were submerged in flood because the canal in this area was filled up and that was because the construction company constructed the drainage and channelled water into the canal without expanding it.”
A commercial vehicle driver who simply identified himself as Alhaji Amao said his trade has not been the same again ever since the road went bad. “Since this road went bad, I have been taking pain reliever (drugs) after every meal to subdue my body pain. Even my bus, which I bought last year, is already looking very old. The painful part is that passengers are at the receiving end because they will always pay more.”
Perhaps the worst of the apprehensions came from one Jamiu Animashaun who gave the impression that the Federal Government had conned them as, according to him, work was ongoing at the site during the last General Elections but this has since stopped, apparently due to issues related to funding.
The Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is not the only problematic road in the country. Indeed, it is only a metaphor for many other roads, federal or state, that are begging for attention. All is not well with the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway too, despite the fact that it is under repairs and is being expanded. Work has been frustratingly slow, causing a lot of agonies to drivers and commuters who ply the road. Many people have had the cause to pass the night on the road when trapped in the traffic. Matters are complicated by the fact that alternatives like the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway where travellers could divert to in times of trouble are in terrible condition as well.
The impression that many Nigerians have is that the government is not serious about fixing these roads. And there would appear some sense in this claim, especially when it is realised that a busy road like the Lagos-Apapa Expressway has been left unattended for years, causing traffic gridlock that robs the economy of billions of naira annually. Yet, the country rakes in billions in terms of revenue from the ports that are located in the Apapa area of Lagos. President Muhammadu Buhari only last week issued an ultimatum to the articulated vehicle owners that are causing the problems on the road. For now, there appears to be some compliance with the presidential order; whether it will endure is a different matter entirely.
Roads are an important aspect of the critical infrastructure for development. Therefore, the federal and state governments have to pay more attention to them. We have lost too many lives and limbs due to the bad conditions of the roads; we have lost too many man-hours for the same reason. We don’t have to lose more.