These days, I now feel a little safer going home after work. I work in the Mile 2 axis of Lagos metropolis. I usually close late. By the time I get to Cele bus stop on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, the time is usually about 11pm or a little past.
I began to commute on the route in 2003 and until 2009, I used to close about 7pm and go home.
For quite sometime, the Okota-Ejiogo-Ikotun road was very bad. Traffic jams were a daily occurrence on the road, especially at night, and it always began to build up after 5pm and would often last beyond 11pm. There was one particular night motorists abandoned their cars between the Okota and Oke-Afa bridge section of the road. Whenever the traffic jam happened commuters would leave the buses and trek to Jakande Gate bus stop to board buses turning at that point to head back to Ejigbo and Ikotun.
One other nightmare that occurred frequently on the road at the time was robbery by gangs armed with dangerous weapons, who attacked motorists and commuters stuck in the traffic jam. Do I need to mention that the whole stretch of the road was unlit at the time?
Naturally, motorists and commuters dreaded to be out on that road; the haste to get past the sections prone to robbery only added to the problem as vehicles struggled for space, to move on.
However, promotion brought more responsibilities and I found myself spending longer hours at work and closing late. Of course, I used to worry about going home late and occasionally chose to stay over at work and head home in the morning.
But towards the end of the tenure of Babatunde Fashola, the government tried to do rehabilitation work on the road, but the real work was done within the first 100 days of Akinwunmi Ambode as governor of Lagos State. The whole stretch of the road from Okota roundabout all the way to Ikotun was reconstructed and asphalted. More importantly, the road now has streetlight that shines bright at night, making the road safer. These days, you find people strolling along the road and completely at ease.
Now, when I get to Cele bus stop and board a bus, I feel less afraid because there is no fear of robbery. The road is open and free. In 25 minutes I get to Ikotun and straight to the warm welcome of my family. Truly, by the simple act of reconstructing the Okota-Ejigbo-Ikotun road and providing streetlights, traders now stay longer to sell their wares to workers coming home late.
►Kingsley Ibezim wrote from Ikotun, Lagos