Potholes, potholes everywhere you go!

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)
By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

Failed portion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Ile-Epo bus-stop, Abule-Egba

LIVING in Lagos can be as stressful as living in a war zone; the weather is constantly humid, traffic is hellish, living conditions are horrid, roads are terribly bad and the government appears to be ‘indifferent’. In the last few weeks, the combined problem of traffic logjam and insecurity across the state have made many Lagosians wondered aloud what is going wrong with their beloved Centre of Excellence.
A latest survey conducted by leading research institute, NOIPolls, revealed that severe traffic gridlock and heightened crime rate have now become the major sources of concern to the residents of Nigeria’s commercial capital, since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office in May 2015.
Predictably, the latter (heightened crime rate) exists because of the precarious situation of the former (severe traffic gridlock), which regrettably have been blamed on the lukewarm attitude to work by the state’s traffic regulatory personnel and hideous potholes littering many of the major artery roads in the state.

Creek Road, Apapa

Creek Road, Apapa

Lagos has elevated the definition of potholes. They are no longer small openings carved out on its roads by rainfall and lack of drainage but are alternatively death traps, that an unsuspecting motorist can pay dearly for.
These potholes, mostly on federal roads, have widened into craters and usually cause unnecessary traffic gridlocks. In some cases, car owners have to visit mechanics after a trip or two on these roads. More so, it has become an eyesore to Nigeria, the nation’s former political capital.
Lagos is encircled by dreadful roads on all fronts. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is perennially a motorist’s nightmare; Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is caving in under pressure and influx of citizens to the fringes of Lagos; Lagos-Badagry Expressway is taking forever to remodel and expand; too much has been written and said about the deplorable but busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway; and the situation remains the same with Ikorodu-Sagamu Expressway.

Wharf Road, Apapa

Wharf Road, Apapa

At a time, former governor and now member of President Buhari’s cabinet as a minister, Babatunde Fashola, had relentlessy told the world how the Federal Government has over the years neglected Lagos and why a special status needed to be granted.
It is no longer fruitless to play politics with Lagos. Concrete action must now be taken to arrest the rot, which is threatening the economy of Nigeria’s biggest cash cow after oil. If taken as a country on its own, Lagos would be among the largest economies in Africa. According to a recent Economist report, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Lagos exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s beefiest economy.
All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. There is an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. As a result of the traffic, many have missed business engagements, while those gainfully engaged have lost productive man-hours to the traffic.

The worries do not end there, as every person behind the wheels are weary of daredevil robbers clutching dangerous weapons in the bid to disposes motorists of money, phones and valuables. And these men of the underworld have found a new hobby in plying their trade during traffic. They are so brazen they don’t need the cover of darkness anymore.
All these are enough to stress out even the calmest soul, and sometimes most people who are stressed out don’t even know it until it’s too late.
Little wonder then Lagos was listed as one of the least livable cities in the world alongside Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe and Dhaka in Bangladesh by a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking, which rated 140 cities in the areas of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Inspite of this, it is an irony of sorts that the city of Lagos still attracts visitors in their hundreds daily.

• Federal Ministry of Works keeps mum

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

Oshodi-Isale service lane, Oshodi

WHEN The Guardian contacted a deputy Director, in the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Godwin Eke, for comment on the bad state of the road, he directed the reporter to contact the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja, on the ground that he is not allowed to speak to the press.
When reminded that he has been talking to the Press in the past on the parking of trucks and petrol tankers constituted nuisance on the highway, Eke, who is in charge of Section I of the Federal Highway said it was in the past and not now.
Minister-designate and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, had last year, said a good number of federal roads in the state were in a state of disrepair, pointing out that the situation would have been worse if his administration had not intervened on some of them, adding that he spent over N50 billion of tax-payers money to fix federal roads without getting any refund, despite acknowledgement by the Federal Government.
“We intervened in federal roads because they would disrupt economic activities if we leave them in a state of disrepair. One can imagine the economic impact of watching Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to be completely unmotorable. We can’t just watch these roads to rot away because we feel the pains.”

• Quick Facts

• Lagos has 117 federal roads.
• Length of state roads is 328.
• Length of local government roads is 6,415.

• Length of federal roads in Lagos is 719.2km.
• Length of trunk routes is 646.2km.
• Length of secondary routes is 73km.

 

Federal mess in Lagos (Part 1)

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Whispering Palms: Badagry’s Haven Fettered By Dreadful Roads

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos City Editor
T1

Until lately, Lagosians were not known to spend festivals and public holidays indoors. Such days, which are far in between on the social calendar, are unique moments when families go out to experience fun on a full scale.
No wonder then the nation’s commercial capital has always been reputed for high-flying celebrations, which had earned it the sobriquet, Eko for show. On a day like today, Easter Sunday, residents are usually spoilt for choice with places to visit and be thoroughly pleasured.
But social re-engineering, security concerns, economic distress and horrid living conditions, which have all combined to make living in Lagos as stressful as living in a war zone, have made such choices limited to church events, the beach, Silverbird galleria, and the National Theatre Iganmu.
One of the few places that have over the years retained its tourism essence in spite of the infrastructural and social makeover of Lagos is the Whispering Palms Resort, a leisure and retreat resort for tourists and researchers at Badagry.
Tucked away on an expansive land overlooking the lagoon in the border town of Badagry, the resort is an ideal environment to escape from the city stress, unwind, relax and reflect.
Replete with the wonders of nature, such as a mini zoo, various sculptures, Oduduwa fountain, thatch huts, heritage museum of slavery and terraced lagoon front with concrete tables and seats, it is a unique spot for those who want to stand and stare, reflect and write or simply spend idle time for recreation purposefully.
T3

Chairman of Whispering Palms, Prof. Deji Femi-Pearse, had in the 70s visited Benin Republic and Togo each months for three nights to unwind and reflect on his research data, particularly in Tropicana Hotel, Lome, a German resort by the Atlantic Ocean shore, where some of his best scientific papers were written and published in peer-reviewed journals.
Later, it became increasingly difficult to travel because of the growing nuisance on the road – police checkpoints, immigration, customs and plant quarantine, especially when the journey, which should normally take four hours took over 11 hours from Lagos to Lome.
This emboldened Femi-Pearse to establish a resort of sort on the Nigerian coast. He, at first, procured a piece of land at Ojo, near Alaba market, but in a few years, it was encircled by heavy human habitation, noise and garbage. He eventually acquired the present location in 1981, which has since grown to become a soar-away success.
On offer for the Easter Extravaganza is a Whispering Palms cultural festival where guests would be treated to a potpourri of local flavours featuring dances in Sato, Zangbeto, Igunuko, Egungun, Agbe, Akere, Gelede and a tortoise parade.
Easter Monday offers more with adult dance competition, children dance competition, yam pounding competition, tug of war and Whispering Palms marching band.
T2

Sadly, these interesting scenes that could keep the mind fully engaged away from the burden of daily routine, would be sorely missed by a lot of would-be visitors, mainly because of the tortuous journey to the site.
On this, the resort’s receptionist, Miss Clement Margaret, reads her chairman’s mind succinctly: “Our major challenge is the bad road, which has affected the business adversely. It is hell getting here from central Lagos, especially with the traffic from Mile 2 to Agbara.
“No matter the money at one’s disposal, not everything here can be recreated in the bustling city of Lagos, particularly the serenity of the park that can only be found in a graveyard. Coming out from Agbara, the real journey begins as the visitor is confronted with bad roads from Aradagun through Iworo down here.”

Beautiful scenery of whispering palms on both sides of the road marred by dreadful roads

Beautiful scenery of whispering palms on both sides of the road marred by dreadful roads

IWORO is a sleepy community in Olorunda Local Council Development Area (LCDA) on the outskirts of Badagry. Despite its location, it has become a popular place and a Mecca of sort to picnickers due to the presence of Whispering Palms.
Despite the rich historical and cultural heritage that it represents, Iworo suffers from abject neglect and there is little to show that the community is under the management of Lagos State. Both the LCDA and the state government would be scored low going by the state of infrastructure available to the people.
Besides the sorry state of the road, there is no electricity, potable water and security in Iworo. The road is dilapidated, causing endless pain and agony to users. Market women, commercial bus drivers and private car owners plying the route are constantly groaning under stress and untold hardship caused by the degenerating roads.
A journey through the route is a risky venture, especially for visitors. Between Aradagun and Iworo, which shouldn’t take less than 10 minutes, motorists may sometimes spend up to two hours or more, as only a few motorists dare to navigate the area due to its swampy nature. Unfortunately, this dilapidated road is the link to Ajido, Epeme, Mogoh and other communities.
The Guardian gathered that during the rainy season, car owners ignore the area due to the damage caused to their vehicles. The few that dare ply the route charge exorbitant prices to the discomfort of residents.
Despite the self-help efforts of Whispering Palms’ management and the community by filling some of the roads with rough gravel as a palliative measure, it gets worse every year.
Hopes have, however, brightened of a lasting solution with the mobilization of Chinese construction company, CCECC to the area to commence rehabilitation works. The Guardian spotted CCECC already clearing a bush path to mount its onsite workstation, while earthmoving equipment have been moved to site.
The challenge of bad roads and epileptic power supply notwithstanding, the relationship of the resort owners with the host community has helped to grow a dream into stability. “The community is proud to have this resort in their village and our guest have never for once had problem with the villagers.
“We won’t have recorded this huge success without their cooperation because they can decide to upset the resort by posing as security threat and nuisance to our guests with their festivals, but such has never been the case,” Margaret noted.

The slave trade museum at Badagry

The slave trade museum at Badagry

LAST week, the ancient town was the centre of attraction when the Lagos Black Heritage Festival opened up the people of Badagry to the huge potential in tourism located in their doorsteps, which had long been ignored by the state government.
Apart from the misery of bad roads, construction of facilities that would facilitate patronage of tourists is still in limbo. From the world-class golf course along the Marine Beach to Vlekete Slave Market, where slaves were sold during the period of the infamous slave trade, to the Slave Tunnels and other landmark slave trade relics, Lagos is yet to deliver to enhance tourism.
Badagry has, therefore, remained a rustic community and is perhaps the poorest among its sister towns with heavy slave trade on the West Africa coast. But in spite of these setbacks, the locals are upbeat about the cultural resource at their disposal.