Motunrayo Joel writes on the Sango-Ota area of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway which is now a nightmare to motorists and residents
A yellow commercial bus zoomed off shortly after its 14 seats had been occupied. The driver raced like someone in Formula One contest to the chagrin of the passengers.
“Please, be careful o. We are not going beyond Owode Idiroko,” one of the passengers screamed. But the young driver ignored the plea. The journey from Agege to Sango-Ota or Owode should not take a long time but the lanky driver, who intermittently checked his phone’s clock, was conscious of the gridlock that has become a permanent feature on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, especially the Sango-Ota area.
The driver drove for a few minutes, increased the volume of the hip-hop song earlier playing in the background and said to no one in particular, “I no go sleep for road na. No time to waste. We can spend three hours for a journey wey no reach 20 minutes if I no move well. The road no good at all.’’
Earlier, the bus conductor shouted at a young guy with earphones considered too sluggish in boarding the danfo bus.
The energy-sapping trip from the old Tollgate to Sango-Ota is enough to raise the blood pressure of anybody.
Not only is the usual traffic on the road frustrating, the road is also an eyesore with motorists and residents, without choice of a clear alternative route, lamenting plying it every day.
From the old Tollgate through the Sango motor park, Joju Junction, Conoil Junction and Owode, the road is filled with countless huge pot holes. One could barely enjoy a bit of comfort.
Every day, motorists struggle to maintain stability on a road decorated with mud and yawning ditches. As cars and buses compete for available space, articulated vehicles compound the traffic gloom by either breaking down or moving at a snail pace to secure their contents or containers.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the deplorable state of the road caused a daily standstill which had defied solutions even to the traffic officers in the areas.
A teacher at Beson High School, Ifo, Ogun State, Mr. Aniedi Effiong, who lives at Fagba, Lagos, shared his pain plying the route. He told our correspondent that he left his house at 5am daily to Ifo to resume work at 8am.
“I take the pain of waking up early so I can leave my house at 5am. I once overslept and woke up around 5:30am. I would never forget that day. I got to school around 10am.
“Some money was deducted from my salary for lateness. I cannot wait for the day I would stop travelling on that road,” he said.
A motorist, Mr. Femi Adeniyi, said if he had his way, he would avoid plying the route. “The road is terrible. It is wrong to continue calling it an expressway. Each time it rains, the road becomes almost impassable because apart from flood, the potholes become widened and movement is impeded.
“The other option is to follow Sagamu road, but that is a long route. I don’t have that much fuel to burn. The Federal Government must do something about it,” Adeniyi said.
Another motorist, identified only as Mr. Owoyemi, said it seemed the Federal Government had neglected those living in that area of Ogun State.
He said he was unsure the Federal Government was concerned about the plight of residents of the area considering the hardship they go through every day.
A resident, Mrs. Amina Lawal, who resides close to Owode Bus Stop, pleaded with the Federal Government to urgently repair the road.
She said the terrible state of the road had led to the death of many. Lawal said, “I have been living in the area for four years. I have witnessed the death of people at Owode Bus Stop. The other day, a young man was about to cross from one side of the road to the other end when he was hit by a vehicle.
“The terrible state of the road caused it as the driver was trying to avoid a pothole and swerved to where the young man stood. Many, who saw the incident, cried because his death could have been avoided.”
Lawal added that many articulated vehicles and petrol tankers had fallen on the road and killing passers-by in the process.
“When there is a downpour, the road becomes worse, compounding the ever-present traffic. In fact, many residents, who work in Lagos, don’t like coming home because traffic always delays them till 1am or 2am,” she said.
A trader in the area, Mr. Gerald Okereke, urged the state and federal governments to curb incessant breakdown of articulated vehicles and petrol tankers on the road.
He said, “At Owode Bus Stop, the potholes on the road are wide and deep. Drivers, unfamiliar with the road, run into them. People have also moved out of the area and this is affecting my business.”
Besides, a motorist, Mr. Pius Igwe, said the Federal Government had carried out temporary repairs on the road to no avail.
Igwe stated, “I think six months ago, a bad spot along the Owode road was repaired but when the rains set in, the patched spot gave way. The Federal Government must make a drainage close to the road so that when it rains, water can flow into the gutter instead of flooding the road. There is no need for the Federal Government to continue carrying out repairs that won’t last. Such efforts are mere waste of money and time.
“The Sango/Abeokuta Road needs a complete facelift. Patching portions on an expressway is not the solution. The Federal Government should put an end to our plight.”
A phone repairer, who has a shed in the area, Mr. Kingsley Paul, said he considered the road an abandoned one because of its long neglect. “It is funny how public officials ply the road but none of them has seen the need to repair it. The road is in a terrible state. We are calling on the Federal Government to come to our rescue,” Paul said.
Our correspondent gathered that young boys and girls, who take advantage of the pitiable state of the expressway to hawk, were equally at risk on the road.
One of them is Samson Festus, 20, who hawked chin chin along the terrible portions of the expressway. Last month, he was hit by a commercial bus. Apparently, the hit-and-run driver was trying to avoid a pothole when he mistakenly ran into Festus. He smashed his bones in the process, leaving him in an unconscious state.
Festus, who is aware that hawking is prohibited, said he was lucky to be alive. “I still cannot believe I am alive today. I thought I would die. The pain I felt was too much. I saw blood gushing out of my body. After sometime, I became unconscious. That night at around 10pm, I had gone to Owode Junction to hawk. I resorted to hawking to support my parents. As I moved to and fro and ran after vehicles, all of a sudden, a danfo bus hit me from behind and ran over me. The next thing I knew was that I was on the ground struggling to survive,” he said.
His mother, Mrs. Celina Festus, was grateful to God for sparing the life of her son.
In November 2016, temporary repairs were done on the affected sections of the road by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency. The repaired spots gave way in no time.
Residents and motorists plying the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway heaved a sigh of relief in May 2017 when the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that the government would employ 47,000 people to fix federal roads across the country.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Olamilekan Adegbite, refused to grant a telephone interview on the matter when contacted for his comment.
He said, “I don’t grant interview on the phone. You can come to my office in Abeokuta and I will answer your questions.”
But he had earlier said the state government would fix all the failed portions of the Lagos-Sango-Ota-Abeokuta Road, awarded by the Federal Government to Julius Berger Construction Company, in batches.
In a statement by the Head of Media in the ministry, Mr. Ayokunle Ewuoso, Adegbite said the Lagos-Abeokuta Road had become embarrassing to the state government.
The commissioner was quoted to have said this while hosting members of the state House of Assembly Committee on Works and Infrastructure on an oversight visit to his office.
He said, “The ministry has been mandated to fix permanently the tollgate axis of the road at Sango-Ota in the Ado-Odo Local Government Area of the state. The road will be designed to accommodate drainage such that it will not be problematic anymore.
“Right now, we have got a mandate to fix the tollgate permanently. That is the only area we can attack for now because it is really embarrassing as we transit from Lagos to Ogun State.” A week after the promise, nothing had been done on the road.
Also, the Federal Controller of Works, Ogun State, Mr. Olukayode Popoola, said in a text message to SUNDAY PUNCH that work would soon begin on the road.
Popoola said, “Since raining season has receded, the ministry will attend to all the failed sections of the road.”
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Motunrayo Joel writes on the Sango-Ota area of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway which is now a nightmare to motorists and residents A yellow commercial bus zoomed off shortly after its 14 seats had been occupied. The driver raced like someone in Formula One contest to the chagrin of the passengers. “Please, be careful o. We are […] Read Full Story