It’s August break in Lagos. That is a characterised by less rainfall and much sunlight. It is a time when the floodwater dries up, helping road users identify potholes with ease.
The nightmares that flooding brings Lagos residents are almost the same each year. People lose lives and property hugely to the flood. Miscreants take advantage of the gridlock caused by bad roads to rob commuters stuck in traffic. Road repairs in some parts of the state have been sluggish. And scared by the likelihood of another round of suffering on the road when the rains return, residents of some communities in Badagry recently staged a protest during which they made their grievances known to the state authorities on the seemingly abandoned road.
Submerged residential houses, destroyed businesses and loss of lives. These are a part of the gale of devastations that the rainy season visits on Nigerians annually. The agony cuts across the states. And in a place like Lagos, reminders of flash floods are lingering nightmares that residents have learnt to live with.
The presence of deplorable roads in the nooks and crannies of the state usually add to the pain suffered by many during the time. Aside having to slowly navigate or wade through craters filled with murky waters, criminals capitalise on resultant gridlocks to dispossess hapless commuters of their belongings.
These unpleasant experiences have seen residents of places like Badagry, Oshodi, Apapa, among other Lagos communities, embark on protests to register their grievances about the parlous state of roads in their areas.
And so, any cessation of rain witnessed within the wet season elicits sighs of relief. The general belief is that this reprieve usually presents itself in the months of August and September. This period popularly referred to as ‘August Break’, is believed to be characterised by less rainfall. Many see the time as a period that should be spent on remedial works on the pothole-riddled roads or for ongoing road constructions to be hastened before the rain returns.
Apprehensive of being further subjected to unpleasant experiences that have made life agonizing during the rainy season, Lagos residents are calling on the state government to speedily embark on road repairs across the state.
At the moment, several roads in the state are being repaired by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation. But residents insist that many other places are still waiting to see road maintenance officials.
Recounting the loss she had incurred over the years due to the deplorable state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Mrs. Anurika Nwakune, a food vendor at Ajagbandi, said her business was gradually being crippled.
“We not only experience difficulty conveying foodstuff from the market to the restaurant, transporting the cooked food to the venue of events has almost become near impossible,” she lamented.
Nwakune said she also spends more money on transportation, as commercial bus operators have capitalised on the bad road to hike fares.
“Buses which used to charge N250 have increased their fares due to flood and bad roads. We now pay over N1, 000, depending on the quantity of our load,” she said.
Mr. Chukwuka Okenwa, a businessman at Alaba International Market, described the situation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as not befitting a country acclaimed to be the giant of Africa. He wondered why the road was left to degenerate into an eyesore, stressing that the revenue lost to the major corridor was unquantifiable.
Okenwa, who is the owner of Great Lots Nigeria Limited, said several businessmen in the axis have lost goods worth billions of naira on the road to criminal elements.
Said he: “If you clear your goods from Apapa-Wharf, to get them here becomes a very big problem. Sometimes, the containers will tilt and fall, making us to incur huge loses. When the road was good, it cost about N120, 000 to convey goods to the warehouse. But now, we spend as much as N750, 000 for a 40-foot container. The road is also making us to lose customers, as most of them have refused to come here. If they come to the market to buy goods, taking it away becomes another major problem,” he lamented bitterly.
The major dealer in electrical appliances further complained that any container that falls on the
road while conveying goods to any of the markets in the axis is usually at the owner’s risk. He said most often, fragile goods in the containers get broken and once such an accident occurs, touts will quickly swoop on the place to steal or extort money from the owner.
“Government should make efforts to repair the road, because huge revenues are generated from the Alaba International Market. I do not see why residents and traders in this area should be suffering this way,” he said.
Another businessman, Jombo Obioha, also complained that the business owners in the area are being heavily taxed for doing business in the state. He called on the authorities to speed up effort in the area of road repairs.
He said resultant accidents due to the dilapidated state of road have led to the death of several breadwinners. He noted that many traders have resorted to commercial motorcycle to get by, adding that the result is massive loss of lives and limbs.
“I commend the state government for its effort so far, but more needs to be done as many Igbo businessmen in Lagos are into importation of goods. Good roads are needed for their businesses to survive. Also the problem of epileptic power supply is another one. How do they expect us to work with these problems?”
Expressing displeasure over the deplorable state of roads in Apapa, Chief Malachi Okafor, a resident of Ojo Alaba, said the absence of good road was impacting negatively on lives. He lamented that the lull in business, occasioned by bad roads, had disintegrated several families as living condition worsened.
He appealed to the state government to expedite action on the rehabilitation of not only the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, but other roads that pose danger and tend to shorten the lifespan of those that ply them daily.
Currently, there are ongoing road constructions in some area of the state. Some commuters are, however, complaining that the ongoing constructions are causing discomfort to residents. Ojedele Oluwaseun, who resides at Ijesha off the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, said the Oshodi gridlock, caused by the ongoing road rehabilitation, has caused many to avoid taking the route, most especially in the evening. He pointed out that the fear of been trapped in the gridlock from Oshodi Bus Stop to Ilasa has made others embark on facing oncoming traffic. This, he noted, was dangerous for the driver, conductor and passengers.
Mr. Sunday Adesina, who often plies the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to work, opined that several man-hours are lost daily on the road due to the ongoing road expansion projects. He regretted that the long hours spent in traffic daily could be invested in other gainful activities.
“Road repairs are good but they should be done in good time. The time spent in traffic becomes wasted, even though such time could have been spent on some meaningful ventures that are beneficial to and profitable for both the state and the individual. The government at the federal and state levels should give more attention to road constructions across the state and fix appropriate periods to do the work,” he stated.