Agonizing wait for commissioning of Ejigbo-Ajao Estate Link Bridge

By Tope Templer Olaiya

AFTER much agitations spanning decades, the long-suffering residents of Isolo, Ejigbo, Isheri-Osun, Ikotun, Abaranje, Igando, Idimu, Ijegun and beyond heaved a sigh of relief when the Lagos State government awarded contract for the Ajao Estate-Oke Afa link bridge to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) in November 2011.

   The Oke-Afa community benefitted from the 2002 Ikeja cantonment bomb-blast disaster with construction of the bridge to pass over the Oke-Afa canal, even though it took the government nine years the accomplished that after the promise was first made in 2003 on the occasion of the first anniversary of the tragedy.

   With few months short of the stipulated period of 18 months, the 2.1km dual-lane road, which starts from the NNPC depot at Ejigbo and ends at Chivita Avenue, Ajao Estate, was completed two months ago with modern-day road furniture, which included covered drainage on both lanes, a walkway for pedestrians, road barrier and streetlights.

   On completion of the project in September this year, the road was unofficially opened for public use even as the contractor waited on the state for the project handover and commissioning. 

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However, though the road was only partially opened for test running, it was praise galore for the governor for shunning resistance from some quarters to make the project a reality.

   Residents felt reduced pressure on the agonizing Isolo-Ejigbo-Ikotun traffic, as commuting from that axis of the state to mainland Lagos was smooth sailing.

   But at the peak of the residents’ joy an incident spoilt the fun.

   An accident on the yet-to-be-commissioned road, which broke the leg of a pedestrian, forced CCECC to abruptly shut the bridge and allowed only pedestrians to use the facility, forcing road users to endure the excruciating traffic on the busy Isolo-Jakande Estate road.

   After the incident, there were some readjustment to the project design as Oke-Afa residents and a group, Nigerians Unite For Road Safety (NUFORSA) pushed for more user-friendly road infrastructure like pedestrian crossing and speed bumps to protect the anticipated high pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the densely populated community.

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Faced with a new challenge, efforts are on to make sure critical road furniture, particularly road signage, are completed before the facility is ready for use. Some roads have already been designated one-way route and the directional signs are expected to make traffic diversion in Ajao Estate easier for motorists.

   The project supervisor, the state Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, explaining why the commissioning of the link bridge is delayed, told The Guardian that after the accident, there were agitations by the communities – Ajao Estate and Oke-Afa – on the need for safety of road users. This resulted in the postponement of the commissioning to ensure all safety facilities are in place.

   “To avoid the situation that occurred at the Lekki-Epe expressway recently, where a truck killed some pupils and residents in the area requested for a pedestrian bridge, we decided to redesign the Ajao Estate-Ejigbo link bridge by first sending a memo to the Ministry of Transport to inspect the road and come up with possible recommendation,” an official of the ministry said.

   According to him, the project redesigning would be completed before the end of November or if there is delay, it would be first week of December,” he pledged. 

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Calls mount for compensation of road crash victims

• As FRSC, stakeholders mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

By Tope Templer Olaiya
The death last week of Prof. Festus Iyayi, former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) sent shock waves across the country. Iyayi, aged 66, died along the Lokoja-Abuja highway in a crash involving the convoy of Kogi State governor, Idris Wada.
Sadly, the radical university don is one of the latest additions to the increasing victims of road crashes in the country.
Ironically, last weekend, precisely Sunday, November 17, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Introduced by RoadPeace in the United Kingdom in 1993 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2005, the third Sunday in November every year is set aside to acknowledge victims of road traffic crashes and recognize the plight of their relatives, who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the tragic events.
The day focuses on both the overall scale and the devastation caused on individuals by road deaths and injuries, plus the impact on families and communities around the world.
It also offers families and friends the opportunity to come together to remember loved ones, highlight the death toll and reflect on what can be done to prevent future deaths.


Facilitators of the symposium in Lagos

Facilitators of the symposium in Lagos

According to available statistics, road crashes kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years.
Every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a father, mother, son, daughter, colleague or friend is killed in a road accident. For every person killed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates another four will suffer long term life changing injury.
In Nigeria, the day’s commemoration has been low-key since 2005 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on governments to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
This gap is, however, being filled by an amalgamation of non-governmental organizations, which used the occasion to draw public attention to road traffic crashes, their consequences and costs, and the measures that can be taken to prevent them.
The highlight of this year’s event was the call by stakeholders for compensation of road accident victims. Facilitator of the Remembrance Road Walk held in Lagos on Saturday and CEO of Steerite Driving School, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde, said road transport in the country should be properly regulated.
“Road transport shouldn’t be an all-comers affair. It should be duly regulated like the air and water transport system. Until this is done, compensation for road accident victims will be a tall order because the regulation is not in place for insurance companies to indemnify victims’ families,” he said.

Alonge Kayode of Integrated Corporate Services (left); Prof. Iyiola Oni of the department of Geography, University of Lagos; Lagos Sector Commander of FRSC, Chidi Nkwonta; CEO, Safety Beyond Borders, Patrick Adenusi; Temidayo Ogan of TOCCS Foundation; and CEO, Steerite Driving School Ltd, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde at the symposium.

Alonge Kayode of Integrated Corporate Services (left); Prof. Iyiola Oni of the department of Geography, University of Lagos; Lagos Sector Commander of FRSC, Chidi Nkwonta; CEO, Safety Beyond Borders, Patrick Adenusi; Temidayo Ogan of TOCCS Foundation; and CEO, Steerite Driving School Ltd, Akinfe Samuel Babatunde at the symposium.

Last year, the focus was the three Ds of road traffic crashes, which are drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving. 

In furtherance of its mission to ensure safety on Nigerian roads, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in Enugu carried its message to the church. The Southeast zonal commanding officer of the commission, Assistant Corps Commander Chike Nwaka, who led other officers of the commission to the Christ Redemption Church, Anglican Communion, Enugu, urged Nigerians to change their attitudes and lifestyles.
The visit was part of activities to mark the 2013 Africa Road Safety Day/World Day for Remembrance of Road Traffic Crash Victims.
Lamenting the number of deaths and avoidable casualties caused by road traffic crashes, Nwaka called for a collaborative effort among all Nigerians. According to him, “over 200 people die daily in Nigeria due to road traffic crashes.
“The road is a place where every habit you have comes to the open. The simple thing they teach us in the church, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself,’ is very important. If we demonstrate it on the highway, crashes will reduce. You don’t have to lose your cool on the wheel because of the behaviours of other road users,” he said.

Foundation links civic participation to graceful aging

By Tope Templer Olaiya

In a country with a life expectancy of 49 years, growing old gracefully could be wishful thinking, but the St. Paul’s Senior Citizens’ Foundation thinks otherwise. According to this exclusive club for those who are 60 years and above, the power to break this restrictive belief lies in the hands of the individual.
This was the thrust of the message at the 7th annual lecture of the foundation held at Lagos Airport Hotel last week. The co-founder of the foundation, Deaconess Esther Aworinde, said though memory loss and diminishing mental ability is associated with old age, there are ways members of the foundation, some of whom are in their 90s, deal with it.

Cross-section of participants at the lecture

Cross-section of participants at the lecture

Some of the suggested ‘to do’ list include learning new things, reading if you can still read, exercising the brain with word search and crossword puzzle, keeping things constantly in one location, eating food that will aid memory loss like fruit and vegetable, singing old tunes and being joyful at all times.
This much was put to test when the guest speaker, Dr. Muiz Banire, mounted the rostrum to deliver his lecture titled Utilization of the Experience of Senior Citizens in Democracy, as he got his audience nodding and cheering while he went down memory lane to bring out lessons to be learnt from past experience in the polity.
Aworinde advanced the creation of a Ministry of the Senior Citizens/Elders, which would seek to promote the dividends of democracy and provision of welfare packages for the senior citizens who had once served the country in their youth.
“With this structure in place, civil servants would look forward to retirement happily without thinking of amassing all the wealth they can steal while in active service, which is the case today. It is most proper to have such a ministry like we have the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Social Development and Lagos can take the lead in this direction,” she said.

Guest Speaker, Dr. Muiz Banire (left); co-founder of the foundation, Mrs. Esther Aworinde; father of the day, Chief Olu Falomo and Dr. Leke Pitan... at the event

Guest Speaker, Dr. Muiz Banire (left); co-founder of the foundation, Mrs. Esther Aworinde; father of the day, Chief Olu Falomo and Dr. Leke Pitan… at the event

Banire admonished senior citizens to be active participants in the process of democracy by ensuring they are first a registered voter and exercising their franchise in the corporate Nigeria by electing the leaders of their choice into elective positions.
The foundation was established 11 years ago by late Dr. Iseoluwa Aworinde and his wife to bring the aged and retirees together under a forum for the enhancement of life.
Members meet every first Thursday of each month at May Clinics Chapel, Ilasamaja area of Lagos to deliberate on issues which include health, nutrition, fitness, education and professional counseling on investment in old age.