By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
WITH eight months left to the expiration of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s eight-year administration, the gear of governance in the Centre of Excellence appears to have been shifted into the Snooze mode.
One facet of this new reality, which is progressively becoming an eyesore to the megacity picture of Lagos –a refrain of the current administration –, is the collapse of many inner-city roads and stalemate of ongoing road projects.
If the governor spares some moments out of his busy schedule to read the letters and opinion pages of the dailies in the last few weeks, he would have been sufficiently embarrassed by the persistent cries of some residents of the state.
The deafening trumpet being sounded by residents of Mushin, Ago-Okota, Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Idimu, Ipaja and Ayobo, to mention a few, is why the governor has decided to forsake millions of taxpayers in the Lagos West axis of the state.
Governance in these areas is only visible in the half-hearted attempts to savalge neglected or uncompleted or never-ending projects.
Many Lagosians have in turn dubbed Fashola as running an elitist government, while not evenly spreading his orchestrated infrastructural wonders in Surulere, Ikeja and Victoria Island.
For instance, the government has been building the about 10 kilometers road between Isheri Oshun and Jakande Estate for well over a decade and completion of the Ipaja-Ayobo road will require a crystal ball to ascertain after several years.
The misery of residents and road users of Ayobo Ipaja road is as old as the fourth republic. They have also resorted to spiritual intervention after the avalanche of promises made by the former governor, Bola Tinubu and the incumbent failed to offer respite.
Fashola, who visited the area last year to flag off the polio immunization campaign, pleaded with residents to be patient with the state governor, noting that issues, which are beyond what the construction firm, PLYCON Nigeria Limited, could handle had delayed its completion.
Some of the contending issues that had slowed down the project are the relocation of some Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) poles, gas and oil pipelines, which run across the area.
In the same vein, work on the deplorable Iyana-Ejigbo road has been stalled and residents will have to wait indefinitely for any relief as the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), the agency handling the reconstruction, has stopped work and waiting for allocation of not less than N100 million from the cash-strapped state government to move back to site.
The situation in the area is more than a nightmare as commuting is usually hellish and it takes several hours to ply a route that should ordinarily take less than 10 minutes because of the appalling condition of Iyana-Ejigbo road.
For residents of Mushin Local Government, it is a passionate appeal they are making to the state government to alleviate their plight by completing the Mushin-Isolo and Mushin-Itire road projects among several others abandoned in the area.
Residents said neglect of the Mushin-Isolo road project, which also included expansion and construction of drainage, have compound their woes as they find it a painful experience driving their vehicles home daily.
The 18 months project started in September 2013, and was allegedly abandoned about a month ago without any explanation from the state government. Residents said government demolished some part of their buildings, while some shops were pulled down to pave way for the road expansion.
The road, which is now in a deplorable condition, has so many deep and wide potholes from Mushin down to Daleko market. Many of the commercial bus drivers have resorted to plying alternative routes to avoid the car-wrecking gullies. Besides, motorists and commuters are also complaining about the dusty nature of the road.
The dust, according to a resident, Ahmed Olaniyi, is affecting their health and it constitutes great danger to their wellbeing. He further lamented that some of the shops that survived the demolition have been forced to close down since they cannot cope with dust emanating from the road.
While government is yet to explain reasons why the contractor, PW, has abandoned the project, a community leader told The Guardian that it might not be unconnected with government’s inability to fund the project, as they are unaware of any other factors.
One of the commercial bus drivers, Rotimi Oyewale, said government’s initial excuse when the project was stalled was due to the rains. He lamented further that owing to the incessant gridlock on the road due to the many damaged portions, it has sharply reduced his daily income, which is not commensurate to his toil.
“Now that there is no rain, they should continue with the construction. The road is damaging our vehicles, most especially the shaft. And not only that, we do have severe body pain when we return home after the day’s work,” Oyewale said.