• Whether sick or healthy you must move
Oshodi! What readily come to mind are disorderliness, environmental degradation; insecurity, violence, filthiness and lawlessness with various gang leaders holding sways.
Although a major interchange for intra and inter state commuters and buses, yet, it is a dreaded place feared by workers, traders, visitors who throng there on daily basis. It is also a den of social miscreants and garage boys who made the place their permanent abode with their nefarious activities that appear even beyond the control of government, state and federal.
Oshodi is a place in Lagos, where you are not sure you will not be kidnapped or even be deprived of your valuables. It is permanent noisy environment, where people shout atop their voices either as a commuter or as a bus conductor. It is an area of uncoordinated commercial activities and long queues of worried people waiting in the sun to board buses to their different destinations.
But with the ongoing interchange project embarked upon by the state government due for completion in September, Oshodi’s battered image may change for the better.
Mr. Abiodun Otunla, managing director, Planet Projects, the construction company handling the project told Daily Sun: “What is going on in Lagos today is a silent revolution as some of us are determined ever before to ensure that we don’t handle over this kind of a country to our children.
“When we came to Oshodi about a year and a half, there were 17 parks, scattered all over with 300 people boarding to different destinations. It was a filthy environment, yet no serious attention was given to it until the administration of Governor Akinwumi Ambode took the bull by the horn and embarked on this project. Places where there is high concentration of people in the world are usually the most beautiful spots. But, here in Nigeria, reverse is the case.
“We neglect our people as if their life doesn’t matter. That is the narrative Ambode is aiming to correct, we must take our people seriously. I am always sad whenever I see residents struggling to board bus daily. This is one of the major modes of transportation in the country. Lagos is about the people and that is why the administration decided to boost infrastructure provision.”
He claimed that only 21,000 Nigerians use the airports daily, but “the Ikeja Terminal recently commissioned will be used by 200,000 passengers daily when it is fully operational. We spend so much money on airports, neglecting the road transport where the masses rely upon. More than 80 million Nigerians use public transport but we don’t have adequate facility for them.
“We have taken the lead to change the narrative. We are in a state where over 12 million people use public transport and yet we don’t have adequate facility for them. This is the most important thing than building hospital. Whether one is rich or poor, he has to move. That is why in other parts of the world, they spend heavily on provision of public transport facility. The facility we are providing here can be compared to any globally. It is designed to service one million people daily when it becomes fully functional.
“Some of the facilities included in this interchange are 18 lifts and one elevator. It would be equipped with CCTV. Passengers would not have to wait endlessly for bus to arrive. With this facility, commuters will experience intelligent transportation, have opportunity to know when their bus will arrive. We are treating our people well through this facility. The decibel of noise oozing out from Oshodi presently is not acceptable globally.
“The three terminals are already up. The first is for intercity transportation; including West African countries. It is a 24-hour transport system. The second and third terminals are for BRT; the second is meant to service passengers leaving the axis to Mile 2, Okokomaiko and other towns along that axis, the third would service passengers going to Lagos-Island, Ikorodu, and others. The terminal will be all encompassing; where passengers would have the opportunity to shop and relax before embarking on their trips.
“As an extension of the project, a Public Private Partnership hotel would be built within the axis. Also, a shopping mall would be available for passengers. The whole idea is to make this axis a new economic hub. We are about 60 percent completion. It will be a new city all together. The aim is to change the slogan of Oshodi from its present state to ‘if you haven’t spent a night in Oshodi, you haven’t visit Lagos.’
“We will have tunnels that would take commuters from each of the depot to the terminals. The reason for the tunnels is to prevent the buses from halting traffic flow within the axis. This is because on ground in each terminal, there could be about 70 buses waiting to commute passengers. And for them to join other vehicles after loading within same area would further compound traffic.”
He hinted that the pedestrian bridges would be removed and another one constructed; walkways would also be provided to take care of about one million people who will use the interchange facilities within the axis:
“We want Oshodi to be an important tourist attractive destination. We aim to take the picture to different parts of the world for people to see and aspire to visit the location. I call it tourism; ‘come economy.’ Through the project, no fewer than 700 persons work at the site daily, to ensure the actualisation of the project. Passengers that board BRT from the Abule Egba end to Oshodi will alight at the terminal two of the interchange.”
To ease movement, all terminals will be linked by a skywalk, globally, transport and commerce move simultaneously: “We work daily and night to ensure we meet up with the completion date. I can disclose to you that we are about 70 percent done. Our intention is to disperse 100 buses from here every hour. At the beginning, we would have 300,000 passengers. The capacity is about one million. There are other terminals that would assist the interchange. There will be 13 terminals for residents of Lagos to connect any location.
“This project is wholly being financed by the state government which will also determine who will run it. Our own is to ensure that we build an iconic project that every Nigerian will be proud of.”
Commissioner for Information and Strateg, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said: “The aim of this administration is to leave a lasting legacy that would solve problems in the state.
Though some of the solutions are in gestation as we speak but it is the responsibility of the government to bring it to the attention of the public. By the time we complete the project, the environment would have changed and the residents will also see reasons to change.
“In the last two decades, the country has been inundated with several experts, claiming to have solutions to the country’s solution. We are working to rebuild the nation and Lagos is in the forefront to ensure the country achieve it.
“The government is working towards complementing efforts of its predecessor. This is the spirit of continuity. The project is an economic stimulator for the state. It is an iconic project. This is a government issue.
“Since 1999, when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, the state has run on continuity. In 2001, the state decided to have 25 years development plan. This is to ensure we scale up level of infrastructure. The consistency that we have will help retain the project.”