By Job Osazuwa
For years, motorists and commuters dreaded plying Agege route and its environs in Lagos State because of the perennial traffic congestion that made commuting frustrating for the people.
Efforts by successive administrations to tackle the menace yielded no much success. The area became popular for all kinds of notoriety. It was a fertile ground for hoodlums, who freely waylaid their victims and dispossessed them of their valuables. The police station on the railway couldn’t deter the miscreants from launching attacks on unsuspecting members of the public.
Every available space in the busy area was grabbed by traders. They displayed their wares on walkways, thereby further compounding the traffic situation in Agege. It was chaotic and choking. Everyone, including those in authorities was perturbed.
But March 5 waved goodbye to the ugly trend. Many heaved a sigh of relief. It was the day Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu commissioned the Pen Cinema Bridge (dual carriageway flyover) and five arterial road networks.
The residents received the governor amid fanfare. It is a day many of the people who witnessed the ceremony would not forget in a hurry.
While the construction of the bridge and the adjoining roads lasted for years, motorists and commuters gnashed their teeth. The people were meant to walk for several kilometres to give enough space for workers on the site to continue their job unhindered.
When Saturday Sun visited the area four days after it was opened, it witnessed a pleasurable driving experience. Those going to Oshodi through Agege Motor Road, Abule-Egba, Ogba, Oke Koto were out of the once dreaded Agege bus stop in no time. Many of the passengers in the bus that the reporter boarded confessed that indeed, old things are passed away.
As gathered, the completion and inauguration of Pen Cinema Bridge is in fulfilment of one of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s campaign promises to Lagosians, which is traffic management and transportation as a pillar of development.
The governor said that the commissioning was a way of renewing his commitment to good governance and delivery of dividends of democracy by putting smiles on the faces of millions of Lagos residents. He believed that effective traffic management and transportation with rehabilitation and construction of roads would pave the way for economic growth.
He said that this was the reason his administration has focused in aggressively fixing many strategic roads within Lagos such as the GRA, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Ijedodo, Badagry and others. To achieve this, the government disclosed that it engaged the services of eight multi-national construction companies to carry out massive works on critical highways across the state. In addition to the efforts of the multi-national companies, it added that palliative and maintenance works were carried out by Lagos State Public Works Corporation while the state government also engaged public infrastructure improvement partnership arrangement to ease traffic considerably in some parts of the state.
The governor revealed that his administration in the last one-year has commissioned several road projects such as the 31 network of roads in Ojokoro; Aradagun-Imeke-Iworo-Ajido-Epeme Road with Bridge in Badagry; Fadipe, Salami, Eyiowuawi and Odubanjo Streets in Shomolu; Alhaji Akinwunmi Street in Mushin; (Oniru Network of Roads Traffic Circulation Project in Eti Osa; Jide Oki/Ade Odederin, Moshood Olugbani Streets in Iru Victoria LCDA, among others.
Few weeks ago, Governor Sanwo-Olu also commissioned Makinde, Suberu Oje, Adekoya Streets and Old Otta Road with Bridge in Alimosho.
The construction of the 1.4-kilometre flyover was part of the recommendation at the Lagos Economic Summit (Ehingbeti) under former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration, as a strategic intervention to achieving significant traffic improvement in the densely populated area. The last administration by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode created the right-of-way and set up the structural beams; Governor Sanwo-Olu substantially completed civil works on the bridge to end years of pains commuters go through in the area.
The bridge is designed to convey traffic from Oba-Ogunji Road into Old Abeokuta towards Abule-Egba through the ramp across the railway corridor. This ramp will greatly enhance vehicular movement towards Abule-Egba, Fagba and its environs just as it would reduce incessant gridlock being experienced over the years in the area.
The entire project consists of a dual carriageway, with a bridge component of two lanes with 3.65 cm width in either direction. The road component comprises service lanes on either side of the bridge with median, kerbs and walkways that are complete with signalised traffic system. There are junction improvements with LED streetlight features.
It also consists of dualization, expansion, construction and rehabilitation of five networks of roads and junctions with turning radius improvement. The five adjoining roads commissioned with the Pen Cinema Bridge are Iju Road, Oba Ogunji Road, Agunbiade Road, Oke Koto Intersection and Iyana Ipaja link road.
It also has provision of a new drainage system; re-routing some roads and traffic signalisation are some of the innovative solutions that were designed to ease the daily gridlock being experienced by commuters in this area.
Knowing the importance of the infrastructure being handed over to them, joyous residents joined Sanwo-Olu, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa, members of the state’s cabinet, federal and state lawmakers, among others in handing over the Pen Cinema Bridge for public use.
Speaking during the commissioning, Governor Sanwo-Olu who said the commissioning of the bridge coincided with his 648th day in office, described the delivery of the project as a “landmark progress” in the state government’s drive towards eliminating bottlenecks causing suffocating gridlocks and relieving residents of stress associated with commuting on roads.
“I am delighted to stand before Lagosians today to celebrate the delivery of this landmark project, which again, reflects our administration’s belief in the principle of continuity in governance and demonstrates our commitment to the urgency of infrastructure development and the welfare of our people. The completion of this flyover and five networks of roads sends a strong message about our determination to accelerate our futuristic vision for a world class transportation system complemented by a good network of roads for social and economic transformation.
“In order to address the challenge of huge traffic burden, the immediate past administration initiated and commenced the construction of a precast and pre-stressed reinforced concrete of 1.4km dual-carriage flyover and ramp, with road works across the Agege-Pen Cinema Intersection. As of May 2019 when this administration was inaugurated, this project was at about 20 per cent progress. With the delivery of this bridge, which is complemented with traffic signalisation and drainage channels, we have resolved the perennial traffic arising from huge human and vehicular movement from Agege-Pen Cinema Intersection towards Abule Egba, Fagba, Oke Koto and Iyana Ipaja,” the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu said since road transportation remained crucial to economic growth and physical development, he believed the project would inject more life into socio-economic activities of people living and doing business in the area.
He said: “A key outcome from the strategic execution of this magnificent Pen Cinema Flyover project is that our administration has again demonstrated the priority it accords to the wellbeing of our people. It is a true test of our commitment to the Greater Lagos vision and a reflection of the achievability of our audacious socio-economic goals. In the course of implementing this project, we created jobs for about 380 people including engineers, supervisors, artisans and others- a clear indicator of the nexus between infrastructure development and employment generation.”
Unveiling the 1.4 kilometres bridge, Asiwaju Tinubu, who described Sanwo-Olu as “a brilliant captain”, praised his administration for putting the state on the path to progress.
He expressed confidence in Sanwo-Olu’s leadership, noting that the governor had stabilised and brought Lagos back on a focused journey, despite the economic turbulence occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath of the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums, which led to coordinated destruction of the State’s assets. The APC National Leader, who described the Pen Cinema Bridge project as a “needed catalyst” for the resuscitation of economic activities on Agege axis, said the current administration is a team of “great performers and doers”, who are capable of building Lagos back to progress.
Tinubu while appreciating the collaboration between the executive and the legislative arms in Lagos State commended the Sanwo-Olu-led administration for delivering a landmark project and the leadership of the Lagos House of Assembly for approving the budget for the construction of the bridge.
He said: “This is a commendable achievement by Sanwo-Olu, who has further brought Lagos on the path of progress, given the economic resuscitation this infrastructure will bring on this axis and entire Lagos. May you continue to think and perform to demonstrate excellent results as you have done today.
“We thank this administration for not letting us down, we thank you for being who you are and who we think you are even before the election. Ever since Babajide Sanwo-Olu became the captain of the ship of our state, he has turned it right for the progress and development of the state. Those of you at the cabinet have developed an equal determination to develop and rebuild for the people of Lagos State.”
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, said the axis on which the flyover is sited is one of the busiest in vehicular activities in Lagos, saying the bridge would bring back convenience to millions of residents commuting in the area.
In his goodwill message, the Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who represents Agege in the Assembly, described Governor Sanwo-Olu as “a proactive, wonderful performer”, who always accomplishes any projects he promises, adding that the Pen Cinema Bridge shows the level of collaboration between the House of Assembly and the executive.