There is no better description of hell than what residents of Okokomaiko, Igbo Elerin, Iba Estate, Ijanikin and Satellite Town areas of Lagos State go through on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which has been under re-construction for a span of two administrations in the state.
An unquantifiable number of persons have lost their lives on the road, through accidents, stress and attacks by robbers who cash in on the heavy traffic to depossess motorists of cash, phones, laptops and other valuables.
A resident of Okokomaiko Safiu Adekunle, told Sunday Sun how the deplorable state of the roads had made life difficult for him and other persons who live in the community but work either on the Island or the Mainland.
He said: “I leave my home about 4:30a.m every day and will not get to my office till about 9:30a.m. Returning home it is the same story, except I decide to travel by commercial motorcycle.”
Some days, he said, he spends the whole night trying to access his home at the Igbo Elerin area and some days he does not get back to his house at all.
He told Sunday Sun how lucky he was the day a fuel tanker caught fire on that road: “I was returning from work that day and I just passed that spot riding on a commercial motorbike. As I was getting to my house, I learnt of the fire, and I just said to myself that I just passed that spot.”
Similarly, Eugene Okoye, a resident of Agbara who has his business in the Balogun Market area of Lagos Island, said it usually takes him long hours every day to reach his plaza on the Island.
He said that all the time he travels by commercial motorcycle to be able to get to his business area early that takes a lot of money out of his pocket.
“Indeed, I spend N2,000 daily to go and come from the Island. When you put that together you discover that it is about N60,000 monthly and ordinarily if I commute by bus or travel in my car, I will not spend that much. This is the problem we are trying to let the government to know, as life has become difficult and unbearable for people living around the area.
“We are not talking about the hazards, the risk we undertake everyday going to our business areas. The funniest part of it is that people die everyday on the road as a result of one accident or the other and nobody cares, even the government just comes like undertakers to evacuate the corpses and after that, nothing else.” Indeed, traffic situation on the Lagos Badagry expressway occasioned by bad road, has done more harm to the residents of the Okokomaiko, Agbara, Iba, Igbo Elerin, Alaba International and Badagry than good, as some of them have either lost their prized items or even their lives to robbers who take advantage of the heavy traffic to unleash terror on motorists.
For instance, Adekunle Martins said that was his reason for using commercial motorcycle to access his home, “because there is no day that there won’t be traffic, every blessed day we experience traffic here and these boys who rob people in traffic are always waiting to carry out their nefarious activities.”
He narrated how robbers swooped on him and other passengers of a commuter bus and dispossessed them of all their valuable property, including phones and money.
“People who tried to defy their orders or failed to comply were either maimed or even killed, so we do not defy them, if we board a bus from Mile-2 or at First Gate or even Alakija, we just commit the journey into God’s hands and pray that nothing happens throughout the journey.
“If the road was good and there was no obstruction, we will not have problems reaching our homes early and safely, but because the roads are bad, the boys take advantage of the traffic build up to harass innocent Nigerians.’ he said.
Martins said that his biggest problems in commuting are the congestion caused by traders and drivers at IyanaIba and the potholes and craters dotting the yet-to-be paved portion of the road.
The Okada ride
If you have to get to your destination in Okokomaiko, Agbara, IyanaIba, Iba Estate area, Igando, fast from Mile 2, your best bet is to charter a commercial motorcycle commonly called Okada.
Indeed, a commercial motorcycle operator who was identified as Odion, told Sunday Sun that apart from ensuring that passengers get to their homes early, the venture provides daily bread for those of them who ply that route.
He said: “It is only passengers who want to spend the night in traffic and expose themselves to dangers who decline to board Okada. We are there waiting for persons that will ride with us and we are safe.”
Also, Chukwuma Ibeagwa who is an Okada operator on that road said that taking Okada from Mile-2 to Okokomaiko and other areas on Badagry road remains the sure way of getting to your destination early. Like the first respondent, he said it was a risk to use commercial buses as a means of transportation to wherever anyone is travelling on that road, especially as the condition of the road is terrible.
“If you decide to board a commercial bus, it’s cheap, but when you will get to your destination is another question you need to answer. So it is better to take a bike, we know it is risky, but it serves us and our passengers. We make a living from it;from a trip we make N1000, and if we do it consistently for a whole day, we may go like 10 times and that is money for us.”
An official of the construction company building the road, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), told Sunday Sun that sections 1 and 2 of the road, between Orile and Okokomaiko, were scheduled for completion by 2019. But this projection seems not visible, especially going by the level of work that still needs to be done.
He explained that the present reconstruction and expansion of the road from Orile Iganmuwill terminate at Afromedia near Okokomaiko, adding that certain challenges had delayed the project in the past.
He said that some of the delay was not from the construction company and that in 2013 and 2016 work on the road had to stop for three years to allow NNPC relocate their pipelines buried between Alakija and Abule Ado. The official who declined being mentioned said that the third section of the project was also experiencing delay due to the military cantonment in Ojo because part of the fence of the barracks has to give way for the road expansion, saying that they would not do that immediately due to the sensitive nature of their work.
He said that the government is already engaging the military to see the best way to achieve their aim without compromising security.