The entire stretch of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road suffered outright neglect for almost one decade, thereby subjecting millions of commuters and residents to undue hardship. But Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently changed these stories of woes, writes Gboyega Akinsanmi
Frustrated by protracted gridlocks often caused by the deplorable condition of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road, Olayinka Isaac, a mid-career media practitioner, finally relocated from Ikotun sometimes in 2009. Before her relocation, Olayinka had lived in Ikotun for five years thereabouts. But she claimed that she never enjoyed her period of residing in this sprawling part of Lagos for one single day.
Her reasons for relocation were not far-fetched. In an interview at the weekend, Olayinka ascribed her decision to time loss to gridlocks daily, which according to her, adversely affected her efficiency and productivity. Aside from time loss, she added that she was always on analgesics to suppress pains incurred from undue long driving on the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo corridor given its deplorable condition.
Olayinka’s relocation to Isolo relatively brought her some measure of respite. At least, according to her, time loss to gridlocks reduced significantly. Also, she said it improved her productivity at workplace and reduced her consumption of analgesics per week. But Olayinka was not totally off the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo gridlocks. She said the Isolo wing too posed heinous challenges until recently.
Likewise, Michael Adebayo, a building technician, shared his experience on the condition of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road. Before he went into private practice in 2013, Michael claimed he had to leave home 5:30 a.m. daily to enable him escape gridlocks on this route. Yet, according to him, one would be held in the congestion for unreasonable period, especially around Ejigbo and Jakande Estate junctions.
He said the road condition had incurred him wrath at workplace several times, which he said, was avoidable if the road was not deplorable. Due to the deplorable condition of the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road, Michael said it was not economical “to ply the route. But there is no alternative route, especially for those who work in Apapa, Ojuelegba, Surulere, Ijora, Mushin, Oshodi and others.”
But Michael kept his fingers cross, hoping one good day the plight of people along the corridor would earn the attention of Lagos State Government. So, he learnt to live with the realities the deplorable condition of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road brought about for almost one decade. In truth, the building technician said it was indeed a sore point “to live with such realities to pose diverse threat to lives and livelihoods.”
Like Olayinka and Michael, all commuters and residents that travelled on the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo corridor had their own share of ugly experience. For some, it was a tale of spending long hours in traffic congestion. For few, it was a tale of traffic robbery, which some said, had cost them their valuables. For others, it was a tale of disappointment, which many believed, could have been averted if not for time loss to gridlocks.
However, their plight had finally caught the attention of the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. And precisely 47 days after he assumed office, Ambode paid an unscheduled visit to the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo corridor. He inspected the corridor alongside the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule and the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olatunji Bello among other top state officials.
Ambode’s entourage comprised a team of the state civil engineers including the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Mr. Paul Bamgboye-Martins, who later bowed out of public service about two weeks after the inspection. Among others, Mr. Ayotunde Sodeinde, the new General Manager of Lagos State Public Works Corporation, the state’s agency in charge of road rehabilitation.
Just after a tree-planting campaign that took place at Ikotun, Ambode undertook a tour of the entire stretch of the corridor. He was not in a hurry. He inspected the road from bus stop to bus stop and from distressed portion to distressed portion. Almost intermittently, Ambode would pursue at some points, turning to the team of civil engineers and making critical inquiries about the road.
But the constriction of Egbe Bridge and vast distressed portions at both ends of the bridge almost threw him almost off balance. At this point, Ambode asked some senior civil engineers in his entourage questions bordering on the history of the road and sought immediate rescue plan. On his countenance, Ambode looked so displeased and dissatisfied that there could be such a road in Lagos metropolis.
At Ejigbo junction, the governor had to trek some metres away, curiously inspecting distressed portions of the corridor and observing some failed drainage system, which Bello said, would require sustained maintenance. Amidst the inspection, residents around trooped out in good number and some commuters alighted too, swiftly following him step after step and patiently waiting to hear from him.
After about two-hour exhaustive inspection, Ambode quietly said he knew such a road of such deplorable condition “still exists in Lagos.” Consequently, Ambode declared the condition of the road “totally unacceptable.” He added that there was no other remedy than “to let our officials come to site within one week. The people of this neighborhood should be guaranteed that work will start immediately.”
Ambode’s remark attested to the fact that he had received distress calls on the condition of the road, which residents said, had been abandoned for almost a decade. He therefore said he had come “to see for myself the state of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road. The road is too strategic as it serves as a major link road connecting several local governments. Hence it cannot be left at the state it is currently.”
Even though he promised to rehabilitate the entire stretch of the road immediately, Ambode pleaded with the commuters and residents along the corridor to bear with his administration. The governor explained that his core goal as the governor of the state “is to bring smiles on the faces of Lagos residents irrespective of where they live and where they work,” thus pledging a new dawn of better Lagos.
He therefore appealed to residents “for understanding and cooperation,” confirming that the LSPWC “has been mobilised to provide palliatives to ease gridlocks often experienced along the corridor.” Ambode added that the state government “will bring people some degree of respite and succour.” He said his administration “will never take people and any part of the state for granted.”
About 10 weeks had gone by after Ambode inspected the road. Sodeinde, LSPWC’s General Manager, last week conducted another inspection, perhaps to ensure the road rehabilitation complete on or before September. 30. Already, deplorable portions from Egbe Bridge to Ikotun had utterly disappeared, which had largely restored public order and normalcy to the entire portion of the road.
Also, potholes had completely disappeared from Isolo to Ejigbo, which Sodeinde said, had reduced gridlocks on the corridor substantially. But Sodeinde said the work “is currently on-going between Egbe Bridge and Ejigbo junction,” which he said, was due to the complex nature of the terrain and the need to construct other infrastructure that would make the road more durable and stronger.
The general manager thus described Ambode’s recent intervention as life-saving. He noted that the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Oke-Afa wing covering about 6.67 kilometres was abandoned for almost one decade, thereby causing undue hardship “for the commuters and residents that daily travelled on the corridor. But all these tales of woes have now become a history given the level of work done already.”
Sodeinde added that the road “was completely collapsed; the drainages not functioning again and the collector drains around Ejigbo junction blocked. The road project is not an expansion work, but a comprehensive rehabilitation designed to make the road motorable and ease traffic congestion on the axis, which he said, had already been achieved substantially given the preliminary report.
Sodeinde explained the strategy of the state government, which he said, has reduced the plight of the people through rehabilitation. He said the road was rehabilitated and not reconstructed. Even at this, the general manager said the road would serve effectively a lifespan of between five and ten years, though argued that the lifespan of a road “depends purely on its management and usage.
“The road project will be completed on or before September 30. The lifespan of a road depends on usage. The drains are blocked. We expect people to clean the drains when they are blocked. We do not expect to turn drains to refuse dumps. With what we have done, the roads can last between five and ten years if it is well-maintained.” However, he said, its completion is subject to the intensity of rainfall.
Already, the rehabilitation of Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road had earned Ambode commendation. Former Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan confirmed that the commuters and residents that travelled on the corridor on daily basis are indeed elated that within 60 days the governor can promptly come to their aid and end years of traffic hardship.”
Bamigbetan said the governor “has demonstrated that he is a listening governor,” who he said, would take life and security of residents in all parts of the state seriously and without levity. But the former council boss suggested that the state government should completely expand, overhaul and reconstruct the road, citing the size of population and the number of communities it served daily.
He therefore said a total reconstruction of the entire road, constructed about 30 years ago, “will totally ease the gridlocks often associated with the route.” Also, an Ejigbo resident, Mr. Kanayo Osondu buttressed Bamigbetan’s demand for the road expansion and reconstruction, which he said, was the only permanent anti-dote to reversing undue hardship on the Ikotun-Ejigbo-Isolo road.
Osondu charged Ambode’s administration “to consider a total rehabilitation of the road, admitting that the palliative work “has reduced travel time from Ago Roundabout to Cele. Before this palliative work, we spend about one hour to move from Ago Roundabout to Cele Bus Stop, but since the road was levelled, it takes just about 5 minutes. It’s a good measure for traffic to flow.
“You know that people going to Ikotun Egbe, Jakande Estate and Ijegun all ply through Cele and the vehicular traffic, is always heavy. We thank the governor for this intervention. But then, if nothing concrete is done, by the time rain comes again, it would wash away the palliative. It is better the contract is awarded so that a permanent solution can be put in place”, Osondu explained.