Residents of Lagos State were by yesterday still waiting to see at work the eight reputable contractors that the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced on Sunday that the government had contracted to fix the decay that roads across the state have become.
Almost two weeks of consistent rainfall had exposed the poor quality of roads in the state as the roads are dominated by craters, potholes and muddy rain water. The situation led to long traffic jams that spanned whole days.
Many workers in the state narrated tales of agony of how they got home very late, especially on Friday and Saturday, with some arriving home in the wee hours of the morning after they had left their offices or events the previous evening.
Gov Sanwo-Olu declared a state of emergency on the roads on Sunday evening and announced that massive repair work would begin immediately on them.
A release by the governor’s chief press secretary, Gboyega Akoshile, stated that the governor had mandated the big firms “to immediately mobilise their equipment on the sites and commence major construction works on the identified roads.”
The construction companies on the emergency jobs are Julius Berger, Hitech, Arab Contractors, Metropolitan Construction, Slavabogu Construction, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Rajaf Foundation Construction and RCF Nigeria Limited.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, listed some of the critical highways and roads to be constructed as the Ojota stretch of the Ikorodu road, Motorways-Kudirat Abiola Way, Apogbon highway, Babs Animashaun road, Agric/Ishawo road, Ijede Road in Ikorodu, Lekki-Epe expressway from Abraham Adesanya to Eleko junction and the Abule Egba-Sango toll gate stretch.
Checks by our correspondent yesterday showed that work on the listed roads had not commenced though the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) had embarked on palliative repairs on some dilapidated corridors.
Residents in the state said they couldn’t wait to see the roads thoroughly fixed rather than the palliative repairs they said Sanwo-Olu had once done but wasn’t any comfort when the rains came calling.
A commercial bus driver, Adisa Ayodele, regarded what the state government did on the roads through the LSPWC as “sheer waste of money.”
Ayodele said, “The rains simply washed away whatever palliative jobs the state did on roads like Oba Akran, Akilo and Ijaiye, which are my routes. The governor has a big job on his hand concerning roads in the state before more tragedies occur.”
Talking about tragedies, Lagos State has a fair share of them when the rains raged last week. Last Saturday, in Iyana Ipaja, flood swept away an 11-year-old boy and his rescuer identified as Wasiu into a canal linking Aboru and Iyana-Ipaja. Residents of the area blamed the government for not attending to their plea of constructing a bridge around the canal.
Earlier in the day, there were two cases of building collapse. One of the incidents, at Magodo, left four people in a family of five dead, while the other incident did not record any casualty.
While gridlock might have been synonymous with Lagos State, recent traffic snarls had been described as horrifying, with people spending hours on the roads due to the potholes and ditches, especially on major highways.
A worker at the Lagos airport, Ikeja, Mrs Sandra Adewole, groaned that on Friday, she left her home at Mowe, on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, by 5am and got to work by 9 a.m. “This is what we face on a daily basis,” Mrs Adewole said.
A commuter, Oluwatosin Oladokun, also said, “The hardship we face on the Oshodi-Agege expressway every day is too much. It has become total chaos.”
Workers in Lagos but residing in areas adjoining the Lagos-Ibadan expressway will have to endure the traffic gridlock for a long period following the closure of a section of the expressway from Berger to Kara as Julius Berger continues work on the expressway. The closure has worsened the gridlock at peak hours in the morning and evening.
The rain cascaded again for many hours yesterday morning. Eko Trust findings revealed that the downpour left many parts of the state flooded and slowed down vehicular movement along Ikorodu road, Adeniji Adele and parts of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway up to Oshodi, among others.
If the rains do not recede, residents of the state from Ikeja, Agege, Oshodi, Oworonshoki, Ogba, Oregun, Ikorodu and Ojota to the numerous communities along the Mile 2-Badagry expressway will continue to groan on ravaging floods.
For instance, residents of Ishawo and Ijede, among many other communities in the Ikorodu area, said they could no longer access their homes, which they said had been submerged in flood.
The governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in the last election, Mr, Babatunde Gbadamosi, in response to a recent report on the traffic gridlock in Lagos featured on CNN, blamed past governments in the state for what he called “evil and wilful neglect of our roads.”
Beyond the road repairs, some observers believe the state government needs to take a holistic look at its urban master plan to prevent the recurring floods in the state during every rainy season.
An environmentalist, Mr Stephen Aina, told Eko Trust that the Ministry of Planning and Urban Development should work with the Ministry of Environment in the state to develop a holistic policy on urban development.
Decrying the current situation where many residents could not access their homes due to flood and bad roads, Aina attributed the situation to the “effects of deforestation.”
Aina, who works with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF), a foremost environmental body, suggested that government must urgenctly halt the continuous conversion of wetlands into residential buildings.
“Naturally, wetlands are a kind of interface between human residents and the ocean. They serve as conduits to filter water away from the residential areas to the ocean. We have massive projects ongoing on these wetlands, which ought to be the natural channels that would take water to the ocean,” he explained.
The solution, he said, lies in developing a drainage network map to inform stakeholders of the likely routes of water in the event of heavy downpour.