LAGOS in the past month has witnessed several downpours and the showers are taking their toll on roads and road users. Potholes have grown wider and traffic jams have worsened. The advent of the season has exposed the deplorable condition of many roads in the state. For many commuters, there couldn’t have been greater conspiracy between the rain and potholes to frustrate transportation.
Yearly, and especially before the rain comes, both state and federal governments make a show of rehabilitating failed sections of roads. Unfortunately, the efforts are often not far reaching. No sooner does the rain come than the deplorable spots return to their pre-repair condition.
Commercial bus operator, Michael Johnson, decried the presence of potholes along the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road.
“I wonder what is happening in Lagos,” he said. “Every time you go out, you find potholes. I have stopped plying the road in the night in order to avoid accidents. The way potholes abound on this road is not encouraging, yet nobody seems to be saying anything about it.
“The absence of gutters on either side of the road causes flowing water to run on the road. This adds to the number of potholes and increases the size of existing ones. Recently, as it rained, my bus ran into a ditch and wouldn’t move again. We had to disembark and push it out. The rainy season has cast serious doubts on how professional rehabilitation of roads in the state has been. It shows that the state government has not got it right yet.”
In places like Iyana Ejigbo, what was left from years of neglect by government has taken a turn for the worst, as an entire stretch of the road has become flooded and impassable. With motorists forced to drive one way, the gridlock at peak periods is better imagined.
Residents and shop owners at Alhaji Olusesi Street in the Okota area of Lagos are also having a hard time plying the road, as the rainy season has inadvertently compounded their woes. The road, which is a major route for motorists plying the Cele-Okota-Ago Palace Way axis, is very busy especially in the morning and evening peak periods.
A shop owner, Mrs. Kadijat Sanusi, explained the trouble traders in the area face: “This is a major road. People who drive down this road should, ordinarily, see what we display. But that is not the case. They are, instead, preoccupied with struggling to meander through the bad road. There are a lot of shops here but many of these have become vacant; no one is interested in them because of the road.
“We want Governor Ambode to come to our aid. We have endured this problem for the past four years. And whenever the rainy season comes, it becomes worse. My husband often has to buy stones to fill up my section of the road, making it manageable. But then, we are still calling on the government to come to our aid. It is beyond what we can do on our own.”
Another trader, Alhaji Owodunni Yekini, said: “We have been suffering as a result of this road. The local government merely promised that something would be done. Landlords on the street have contributed money several times to fill the road with sand. This, however, does not always last. We are not getting any funds from the local government. This has been the sad story for almost five years.
“Commercial and private vehicles ply the road, likewise heavy duty trucks that damage the road even further. Although this is detrimental to us, we cannot stop them from using the road. This is where our houses are built; we live here and should not have to go elsewhere.”
The Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, which links the Murtala Muhammed International Airport with two of the nation’s busiest seaports, is fraught with notorious spots. With the rain, here, these failed sections are expected to spoil further. Places like Berger, Coconut, Berliet and Iyana Itire are littered with potholes, making the road dangerous to navigate.
“We don’t know what we have done to the state government. This estate is meant to be a model for others springing up. But we have been suffering. Some of us have not moved our cars out of this place for days because of the bad roads. Governor Ambode should please come to our aid,” said Kehinde Olatunji, a resident of Jakande estate.
The pains brought by the rain and potholes come as an unpleasant addition to the menace of tankers. It is no longer news that fuel tankers have taken over the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway causing unending gridlock. According to Godwin Ujam, who lives in Apapa, “The activities of these tankers affect us in several ways. They affect people’s physical and emotional health. Someone told me that his heart beats faster whenever he thinks of hitting the road. The gridlock is horrible. You could remain on a spot for hours, arriving home completely exhausted. That is not to mention the risk of being attacked by robbers.”
At Coconut bus stop, the road becomes flooded whenever rain falls, turning an entire section of the road into a river and frustrating traffic flow. Also at Point Road in Apapa, the entire street becomes flooded when it rains. People living in the area said they have made repeated attempts to draw the attention of the Lagos government to their plight but without success.
According to one of the residents, Lateef Idris, “Government needs to be proactive in getting relevant agencies to clear the canals. With the problem of flooding getting worse year after year, it will be good to build more canals and drainages in affected parts of the state.”