•Lagos residents savour new Ojodu Berger flyover
By Job Osazuwa
For years, it remained a major death-trap to thousands that crossed the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from one end of Berger Bus Stop at Ojodu on daily basis.
The accident that claimed a woman and her child about three years ago while they were crossing that major highway would not be easily forgotten by those that witnessed it. They were crushed around 7pm by an inter-state commercial vehicle at high speed as they attempted to cross the road. The corpses were abandoned on the road till the following morning. The mother and child were said to be going to the Mowe area of Ogun State. Many sobbed and wailed until the bodies were removed.
Over the years, several pleas to past administrations to construct a pedestrian flyover over the expressway at Berger Bus Stop had been ignored.
Also disturbing was the unquantifiable manpower hours that were lost at the spot due to the persistent gridlock. It was usually caused by people, who now and then, dashed across the wide and busy road. As things were, some of the pedestrians in their numbers would collectively and impatiently occupy part of the road, waving and beckoning on the drivers to limit their speed so that they could cross.
In the traffic jam, especially on weekends, hoodlums cashed in on the situation to rob commuters of their valuables. They robbed their victims and promptly disappeared.
However, today, residents and travellers alike are singing a new song. At Ojodu Berger, the story has changed, and old things have passed away.
On May 16, 2017, amid jubilation, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode inaugurated the new pedestrian flyover at Ojodu Berger, rated to be the longest in Nigeria, measuring 98 metres, across eight lanes, which consist of different routes. It was part of the governor’s campaign promises to mitigate traffic congestion in the axis.
The event went beyond the opening of just another footbridge, as in other parts of the state and country. The Ojodu Berger flyover is a three-legged project comprising the pedestrian bridge, lay-bys and slip road.
The bridge is lit, with 150-metre length lay-bys on both sides of the expressway, 500-metre length of retaining wall with varying heights, from about 3.5 metres to seven metres, and two bus park/bus lay-bys on Ogunnusi Road with public convenience.
When Daily Sun visited the bridge a day after the launch, pedestrians fully engaged the facility. Some young people, male and female, were even seen posing for photographs with the bridge. Now, dashing crossing the expressway has become a thing of the past.
The slip road connecting traffic outward the expressway to Omole/Olowora Junction, Ogunnusi/Wakatiadura road from Kosoko road junction to the expressway, PWC Road to the expressway and streetlights on all the roads and bus parks make the new Berger Bus Stop a place to behold. The signage at all junctions, pedestrian walkways and drainages added more colour to the project.
A woman who sells bread under an umbrella at the bus stop, Mrs. Omolara Opeyemi, told the reporter that the construction of the flyover was long overdue. She heaped praises on the governor for coming to the people’s rescue after many years of abandonment. She described the bridge as the best she had ever seen.
“The steps on the bridges are very easy to climb. If it is raining, one can also hide there because it is well covered. Before the bridge was built, I would stay here without crossing to the other side of the road because of the dangers of crossing the expressway. God will bless Ambode for fulfilling his promise. I am not a politician and I didn’t vote for him but I am now benefiting from his projects; that is how government should be,” she said.
Another trader in the area, Mr. Tajudeen Idowu, said he was not surprised that Ambode initiated and completed the flyover as he promised. He described the governor as a silent achiever, who is resolute in leaving the state better than he met it.
Said he: “I have been selling here for more than 13 years. I have witnessed different accidents on that road. This informed the reason many people were dancing openly to no particular music on the day the governor came to commission it. We are so happy that our prayers have been answered. If a government does well, it is good we say it, though there might be other areas that need urgent attention, which the governor has not yet touched.
“Nobody in his or her right senses will still risk his/her life to cross the expressway without using the bridge. I know exactly what I am saying because I have seen it all. It was a problem that affected everybody, residents of the area and travellers. At times, some persons could stay there for 20 minutes waiting for vehicles to slow down. Most women had to beg the men to assist them in crossing the extensive road.”
A commercial bus driver who plies the Berger to Iyana-Ipaja route, Alhaji Lateef Abiola, described the governor as a man that does whatever he says he would do.
He said Ambode was an action governor, pointing out that governance was not all about making fantastic promises to the electorate without delivering on such promises.
Speaking on why he awarded the contract for the construction of the flyover, Ambode explained that his administration at inception identified the axis as one of the major traffic flashpoints that required urgent attention. The decision was informed by the strategic importance of the Berger axis, being a major gateway to the state.
“What we set out to achieve with this project was to ensure smooth flow of traffic along the expressway, safeguard the lives of our people who had to run across the express and project the image of a truly global city to our visitors. Today, we are delighted that we have not only succeeded in transforming the landscape of this axis but, with the slip road, lay-bys and pedestrian bridge, we have given a new and pleasant experience to all entering and exiting our state.
“This project is the product of our innovative team of engineers, architects and town planners who have worked hard to create an innovative solution to tackle the challenges of this axis,” he said.
To improve on the project, Ambode promised to build a food court, where people could relax before climbing the pedestrian bridge, as well as an interstate bus terminal in the Ojodu-Berger axis for buses coming from outside Lagos to drop and load passengers.
According to the governor: “If your neighbourhood or community is experiencing traffic challenges, rest assured that we will soon be there. We will always ensure that promises made are promises kept.”
Also on the day of the commissioning, the Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Adebowale Akinsanya, said the project was conceived by the state government as a response to the yearnings of the people of Ojodu-Berger community for an improved, efficient and gridlock-free road network, as well as the need to preserve the sanctity of life of Lagosians who hitherto were endangered by the need to cross the ever-busy expressway.
In the past week, Ambode also commissioned the Ajah and Abule-Egba flyovers, as well as roads in Kosofe, Epe and other parts of the state.