James Ojo Adakole
About 2:15pm on a drab Monday afternoon, Mr. Abduwasiu Adewale walked carefully on a long wooden bridge connecting his community with Hotel bus-stop in the Igando axis of Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos State. As he walked on the wooden platform, he maintained a sense caution, to avoid stepping on a weak part of the platform and falling into the canal below.
“Those of us living in this community are facing a lot of problems,” a rankled Adewale told Sunday Sun. He is one of many people who are angry about the situation. Many residents of Alimosho living around swampy areas daily face the challenge of finding easy routes to their places of work. For ease of access and proximity, most of them make use of wooden bridges, constructed by private individuals.
Most of the private wooden bridges are tolled, with residents paying about N50 each time to use them. When our reporter visited the area, he was charged N50 as passage into a community, while he also paid the same amount when he was returning. Some of the tolled private wooden bridges in the local government include: the bridge linking Ashipa, Ayobo-Ipaja community to Igando community; Lanre through Sanni Thomas Street to Igando New town; Igesu and Egan communities; Baruwa inside community and Diamond Estate; Obadero and Ijagemo communities; Abegunrin and Idowu-Egba and Pako community to Ketu community.
Adewale told Sunday Sun: “This is a major route for most people in this community, but it is everybody’s nightmare because of its risky nature. The government has not done anything to help alleviate the suffering of the people. This road is strategic to this area, which if completed would facilitate development in the area. But due to the parlous state of the road, this community has stagnated for years.”
Nightmare for residents, gain for private bridge owners
For many residents occupying swampy areas in Alimosho LGA, going out or returning home whenever there is a downpour has always been a nightmare. The situation is largely due to the fact that most wooden bridges linking them to their homes are often over-flooded, making it extremely difficult and unsafe to use.
Describing the ordeal of residents whenever it rains heavily, Adewale said: “The condition is always terrible whenever there is downpour. If you (referring to this reporter) don’t have enough stamina, you will drown and be carried away because most times, the wooden bridge gets flooded.
Continuing, Adewale said: “Most of us spend the little we make from daily hustling, to pay tolls for using the bridge everyday which ought not to be. Those maintaining the bridge are the real beneficiaries of the situation. The situation is really bad and we expect the government to do something about it urgently.”
Also speaking, another resident of the area, Oluwagbenga Shenuga, enjoined the government to construct a befitting road for the area, noting such would alleviate the daily trauma commuters go through as they go about their activities.
His words: “We are appealing to the government to come to our aid and remember us as regards the construction of this road. When this road is done this area will be more civilized. There won’t be cases of flood ravaging the area as has been the norm during rainy seasons. This situation has been like this for years without any government attention. I have lived in this vicinity for about five years now and that was how I met the bridge when I came around which has remained unchanged till now.
“We’ve had different cases of people being carried away by flood during a downpour. So, we are appealing for government to prevent further loss of lives and properties. We urgently need government intervention.”
In the same vein, Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdulkareem, decried the horrible experience he and other people trying to use the bridge go through. “Things are really bad in this area, especially whenever it rains. There was a time a woman lost her baby, when her child was carried off by flood as she tried to use the wooden bridge. My shop is also not safe whenever it rains. In the night, people returning from work are always afraid because of the unknown. People are always scared because anything can really happen. The gate is usually closed by 10pm every day. There is nothing we can say other than to appeal to the government fix this road. It is only the government that can help us,” Abdulkareem said.
On his part, Mohammed Jamiu called on the state government to swiftly complete the road, noting that such would further ease the gridlock that has become a menace across the state. “This road is really strategic. If completed, it would further ease the usual gridlock on Lagos roads. This would also bring more development to the state as a whole. When we have lots of inner roads, then we can be sure of a Lagos where traffic jam would no longer be a problem. This bridge for instance connects Ayobo, Amule, Iyanapaja, among others. If it can be done, it would really be good. We are happy to have this temporary bridge, which was constructed by few people in the community to ease the traffic situation of this area,” he said.
A resident who preferred anonymity said: “This road is what we have been waiting for to see the government’s intervention for four years, but nothing has been done. Around 6pm-10pm everyday, people always flood this road because of its strategic nature and the fact that the linking routes connecting to the major roads are not in good shape. So, it is always a rush hour. This has been a stigma for this community for years. Whenever it rains, people risk their lives to navigate through the bridge, which ought not to be so. If the government can come our aid, we would really be happy. Most people are already eager to see the government do something about the state of the road since.”
Another resident who craved anonymity commended the gesture of those who constructed the wooden bridge. She, however, said that gesture has become an avenue for making money for those maintaining the bridge, noting that government’s intervention would mean the end of business for them.
“From a business perspective, it is like spoiling business for them. If the government eventually fixes the bridge, that means the end of their making money from the people who use the wooden bridge. They know how much they make from it on a daily basis,” she said.
Many promises, dashed hopes
For long, politicians have been promising to construct a road across the swampy area. And the promise is not new to the people who reside in the swampy areas of Alimosho, Lagos State. Sunday Sun gathered that successive administrations in the state had made several promises to build the road, especially during electioneering campaigns, but such promises had never seen the light of the day.
“This road has always been a major item on the manifesto of politicians whenever they visited us during election periods to campaign, but immediately elections are over, we don’t hear from them again. This has been the situation for years, which is really pathetic. We hope the present administration won’t go the way of successive governments because so far, we have not seen any indication it would be done anytime soon. It is something that affects our lives every day. Therefore, if the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu can come to our aid, we would be happy and many would pray for him,” Mr. Adewale lamented.