James Ojo Adakole
Each time Mr Daraleyan’s nervous system vibrates, it is not as a result of the fear of a nagging wife or stubborn children, but the fear of getting home without being a victim of bike accident.
Daraleyan, an employee of a big company, lives in the Pipeline Community of Isheri-Idimu in Alimosho Local Government Area, Lagos State. After the close of work, he is daily confronted by the hectic traffic congestion commonly associated with Lagos roads. He usually gets home late into the night and due to bad road, he has to take a commercial motorbike to get to his house as tricycles and buses do not ply the route due to its bad condition.
Incidentally, still very fresh in his mind is an unforgettable accident he had which confined him to the bed for four months, due to a sprained backbone.
Recalling the fateful day, Daraleyan told Sunday Sun that the commercial motorcyclist he hired sped through the bad road with utmost vehemence. It was a terrifying bumpy ride because of the several potholes that defaced the road. The motorcyclist gave deaf ears to Daraleyan’s warnings for him to slow down. The biker who seemed to have just came from hell only muttered in response, “I just came out to work and I need money.” Within the twinkle of an eye, Daraleyan had been thrown into the concrete drainage. The force of the impact almost broke his back. But the grace of God and the wisdom the Almighty gave to the doctors who treated him at the hospital where he was taken saved Daraleyan from paralysis.
The road is in such a terrible state that even car owners in the area are not spared. One of them, Oladimeji, who bought a new Toyota Corolla has not been able to enjoy the car as the road damages the bumper of his car, forcing him to repair it all the time. Aside the muddy water the car waddles through every day the tyres are deteriorating fast.
Regardless of its status as the largest local government in Lagos State, government interventions in Alimosho Local Government are barely evident. The situation of the LGA is a sharp contrast to the megacity Lagos claims to be as bad roads weave though all parts of the local government like a tangled mass of spaghetti.
Residents of Pipeline Community have ugly stories to tell due to the bad state of their roads. Their tales, like other residents of the state, informed the recent decision of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to declare a state of emergency on roads. Most residents who use cars take an alternative route, which is longer and exhaustive due to the excess number of road users.
When this reporter visited the area, he was lucky to have escaped being thrown into the various clogged drainages along the road, as the commercial motorcyclist he hired struggled to navigate through the various bad portions of the road.
Primarily because of the presence of petroleum products pipelines running under the ground, the reconstruction of the roads was stalled, to avoid damaging them and causing a catastrophic fire disaster.
Speaking with Sunday Sun, a resident of the area, Mr Babalola, stated that the condition of the road is very devastating and affects his business as a commercial motorcyclist.
He accused the occupants of the houses close to the roads as major contributors to the deteriorating condition of the road. He revealed that some of the occupants who do not have good toilets simply defecate on the roads.
“Some even go out at night with polythene bags. You’d think that what they have in the polythene is food, but you’d just see them fling it on the road as if the road is their dustbin. I can’t stop them because I’m still trying to see how to maneuver the road so my passenger and I don’t fall into the marsh. They have nobody telling them to stop it.”
He urged the community leaders and government officials to look into the issue before it would lead to an epidemic, which would only worsen the situation of the residents beyond road problems. He believes that if the road had been constructed, there would be no room for such acts.
He recounted that 16 years ago, the road was motorable despite its failings.
He told Sunday Sun: “But something happened, at the other side of the road which is a market place, some of the traders were throwing things into the drainage either on purpose or by mistake. They brought a caterpillar, dug the drainage and discovered that dirt was blocking the channels. They made provisions for drainage system though they didn’t fix the road and since then, when it rains heavily, the flood diverts to this lane (referring to one he and this report were riding on).”
Another commercial motorcyclist, Olubambe, said that it would be a source of great relief if the road is fixed by the government as the road spoils their motorcycles which then require repairs that siphon their income.
He lamented over the effects of the road on his newly acquired motorcycle. “I just got my bike two days ago and I’ve washed it more than necessary because of the muddy water on the road. When the water gets into the bike, it spoils things and that’s how the bike would start getting spoilt little by little. We have to spend money on repair again. They keep saying that they can’t fix the road, the little they can, they should do it. From this T-Junction down was repaired in 1981, you can still see some remnants of the broken road here. When the road was fixed then, there was a link to Baruwa, Ayobo and there was a functional bridge, but everything is history now because no one can use that link anymore because people have built houses on those links.”
Olubambe blamed the owners of the mechanic workshop (village) along the road for the decay. “The creation of a functional drainage system is impossible because of their workshop. The vehicles brought for repairs are parked in the place where there ought to be drainage system. Another thing is that a little spill of oil destroys the road and being a mechanic village, they spill a lot of oil on that same ground.”
He believes that the saw millers on that road should also be held responsible for the condition of the road especially at that spot where the sawdust produced by them destroys the road the more. “All their planks are on the road obstructing the effective flow of water. So you see, they are both on the road, there is no hope for this road.”
Both commercial motorcyclists, with confirmation from other colleagues, affirmed that the community leaders rather than focus on how to make the roads motorable are more interested in selling uniform to motorcyclists in order to make profits. “They keep changing the uniforms every year and we buy one at N5,000. It’s expensive, but we just have to buy it.”
Mr Temitope Solomon, a dealer in building materials, said that the road had never been good, but claims that the demolition of buildings in the area also added to the worsening condition of the road.
He said: “Since the soldiers came to destroy some buildings that were on pipelines around June this year, it made the road worse. They only came to destroy; they couldn’t fill the potholes with the blocks from the demolished buildings. They just did their jobs and left. The potholes increased and some of the passage ways became places the people could not tread on anymore.”
He added that the condition of the road affects his business to an extent because customers who would rather come with their cars can no longer access his store; thus, they divert their patronage elsewhere.
He pleaded with the government to look into the plight of the residents and business owners. Solomon also urged residents to stop adding to the problem through their despicable practice of throwing garbage and feaces unto the roads, as well as defecating directly on them.
Mr Ayoola, land owner said that the road had been like that for over 16 years and had been getting worse because of the rains. The state of the road had kept more people from moving into the area.
He is of the belief that though the road can’t be tarred because of the pipeline, it can be graded. “The period when the Goodluck Jonathan Estate was to be commissioned, the road was filled with granite and it was pliable for car owners, but after a while, it became difficult for car owners to use.
The Federal Government should look into this. I don’t believe that the local government can do this because of the NNPC involvement. Federal Government should do something to make this road usable,” Ayoola said.
He added that sometimes because of the rough road, residents find it difficult to go out.
Principal of Dom Grace Schools, Mrs Ayomide, stated that the condition of the road affects her school as much as it affects her students though some of the students had adapted to the situation.
According to her, it is possible that some potential parents might have been discouraged from enrolling their children in the school as a result of the bad road.
She believes that if the government can help fix the road, the burden of coming to school would be reduced on the children. “We’ve not recorded an accident before. Some of my students have to go through a longer route to get to school. Some of them pass through Phidel road, which is way longer than usual. We do not have a school bus because of maintenance. Of course, the school bus would have to bring the children in, but I would obviously be having recurrent faults, which would require repair. We can’t start what we can’t finish.”