Ambode did not disappoint

Personal Assist to the Governor on Education, Obafela Bank- Alemoh (left), Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tunji Bello, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode (middle), and Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, at the commissioning of the newly-built Abule Egba Bridge in Lagos. PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

There were unofficial reports that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State would commission the Ajah flyover on May 29, so I wrote an article as a stakeholder bringing to his knowledge that traffic in the axis would improve for just a few months after opening the bridge unless a couple of things were done to address the root cause of the notorious traffic gridlock. Ambode surprised most people by commissioning the flyover on May 17, probably because it was ready ahead of the originally scheduled date. Lagos State has a dynamic administration.

Ambode demonstrated a good grasp of the severe challenges in the area when he spoke. He promised to construct the Ire Nla-Abraham Adesanya Road. He promised to repair the 10-year-old Ajah-Badore Road which has failed in about five places, causing traffic gridlock. He even pledged to revive the construction of the Badore Jetty, a critical facility which I inadvertently forgot to mention in my article.

The governor would be surprised to learn that the commissioning of the Ajah Bridge did not ease traffic for months. Not even for a day! Traffic is now worse. There cannot be a greater paradox. It is more difficult to come into Badore these days because of two different but related factors. The first is that while vehicles join the Badore Road from five lanes on the Epe-Lekki Expressway, Badore Road has only two lanes. Worse, only one out of the two Badore lanes is used at the entrance because commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as okada, have taken over one lane. In other words, only one lane is effectively in use for motorists driving into the Badore end. Even so, the lone lane is frequently blocked by countless commercial bus drivers going into, and driving out of, a park and a market right at the beginning of the Badore Road. The Lagos State government should be able to address these man-made problems easily.

It is wonderful that Ambode has promised to repair parts of the Ajah-Badore Road. Time is of the essence. The rains are here. And each time it rains, craters on this critical road grow bigger. The result is worsening traffic congestion. Yet, all the craters can be fixed by the Lagos State Public Works Department (PWD) within two days, though the department gave an awful account of its competence last year when it attempted to fix only of the craters but fled within hours. Therefore, the repairs should be carried out by PW which constructed the road and did a good job. What is more, PW is coming back to the area to complete the Badore jetty. Since the Ajah-Badore Road is the only road in these parts connecting Badore, Langbasa and Ajah to the rest of the state, this critical road should be handled by a reputable company. Anyone who visits Epe now must be impressed that our governor is a man of quality and taste.

There are some critical infrastructural facilities which Ambode did not talk about during his visit. Well, I was not at the Ajah Bridge commissioning ceremony, so I am not really sure that he did not. One of the facilities one has in mind is the road leading to the Tarzan Jetty in Badore. Known as the Catholic Mission Road, it measures less than two kilometers. It was constructed by Bola Tinubu for the fishermen settlement by the Tarzan jetty. But the road is used by thousands of people daily who take the jetty to go to Ijede, Ikorodu and the Egbim Power Plant, among other places. Not only is the road riddled with potholes and craters, half of it has been taken over by mechanics and panel beaters who abandon rickety vehicles there. All this makes the road unsightly.

There is a critical road in Badore which I failed for some strange reason to call the governor’s attention to in my article before his visit. It is called Taiwo Kolawole Avenue. It measures less than two kilometers and has never been constructed. Yet, its development is critical. The Ministry of Works recommended its construction about nine years ago and surveyed it together with PW which tendered for the job after designing it. Anytime a truck breaks down on the narrow Cooperative Villas Road which links three big estates, no vehicle can go in or come out. Cooperative Villas, one of the best planned housing estates in Nigeria, is almost as big as a town. The development of Taiwo Kolawole Avenue, which stretches from First Unity Estate to Badore Village, will provide an alternative route for residents of this area.

It is apposite to remind Ambode of the acute environmental degradation taking place on the Ajah-Badore Road. It is thoroughly embarrassing how shacks and shanties have been allowed to spring up and grow at an unbelievable rate here. The illegal structures have turned the area, supposedly meant for middle class and high-end people, into an eyesore. It is doubtful there is any part of Lagos metropolis where such illegal and environmentally degrading structures are allowed. The laxity likely owes to the geography of this area: it is out of sight.  But this is a naturally beautiful place. It is a perfect example of what the people and government of Lagos State would call a place of aquatic splendor. Ambode has to ask the Ministry of the Environment and its agencies to rise to their responsibility. The same directive should be given to the Ministry of Social Welfare which has allowed the Ajah Market end of the Ajah Badore Road to be colonized by beggars with physical infirmities.

Finally, sand dredging in Ajah has become a nightmare. Over 250 big tippers lift sand about three times daily from there. The road has worn off in some places on account of the activity of these tippers. And large quantities of sand drop from the vehicles as they move. In some places, the dual lane has been reduced to one by sand from the tippers. The sand is hardly swept. There are a number of people who innocently think sections of the Ajah-Badore Road have gone bad because they are undulated. Nothing is wrong with these sections; they are only covered by sand.

Ambode did not disappoint Lagosians living and working in the Ajah area of Lagos when he visited on May 17 to commission the Ajah Bridge. What awaits him is not much. He has done bigger things with admirable ease. He has his job in the Ajah area cut out for him. But time is of the essence.

Adinuba is head of Discovery Public Affairs Consulting.

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