For those who live outside Lagos or those who live in some parts of Lagos, Oke-Afa, ordinarily, may not be too familiar a name. But it became a popular name, worldwide, I believe, in January 2002, 17 years ago, that is, when more than 1,000 Lagosians perished in nearby canal known as Oke-Afa canal, while trying to flee the Ikeja military cantonment accidental armoury explosion that caused extensive damage and widespread panic among residents.
But my article today is not about that painful incident but about the suspected Ruga settlement created by cars, trucks, kekes and okadas plying that area, starting from Oke-Afa roundabout and stretching all the way in all the directions to Ijegun, Ikotun, Cele Express on the Oshodi- Mile 2 Expressway and Isolo.
LASTMA is an acronym for Lagos State Traffic Management Authority. But at Oke-Afa, they don’t manage transport. Transport situation manages itself, and sometimes, when it gets out of hand, manages the LASTMA operatives sent to manage it. At such a time, you would see the uniformed personnel gathered in groups and discussing among themselves while the situation sorts itself out in one way or the other.
At that time, you would hear angry motorists shouting at one another on top of their voices: “Hey you, there, if you brush my car, you go pay o”. “Shut up there and mind your business. LASTMA people wey dey there dey ‘control’ traffic no talk, and you come dey halla. Abi dem take trouble swear for you?”
And that one would shoot back: “Na me you dey talk to like dat? E be like say dem no born you well. E be like say your head no correct. Ok, try am now if dem born you well. Try and brush my car and see whether me and you will not stay here today until Sanwo-Olu come separate the fight wey go shelle between us.”
And, his fellow motorist would sneer: “Which Sanwo-Olu? If you are waiting for him to come here and settle the fight wey go break out between me and you, na im bi say you go wait till thy kingdom come.” “Dey go, yeye man,” his traffic enemy would snap back.
Brothers and Sisters in Crisis, if you are standing and listening in, this is the kind of conversation you are likely to hear every day, morning, afternoon and evening. Traffic within Oke-Afa axis never stays light at any given time of the day and the situation is worsened by gullies and manholes of potholes here and there. I hereby call on the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to declare that area Transport Disaster Area.
As a result of this development, I am beginning to suspect that LASTMA has declared that area a Ruga settlement of frustrated motorists and all manners of insults and expletives. If you are talking about altercation between antagonists and protagonists of Pastor Fatoyinbo, you are likely to hear: “Shut up your mouth there, you dey Krest?” Or, “e be like say you don begin dey Krest, abi?” If you are talking about exchange of words between Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the rest of Nigerians, you are likely to hear: “Keep quiet there, you dey graze?” Or, “e be like say you don begin dey graze, abi?”
At Oke-Afa Transport Disaster Area, you will never hear any of that. Instead, all you would hear is: “You dey craze? You dey mad? If I come down from this Keke and hold you, Sanwo-Olu no fit deliver you from my hand o. Na wetin dey do you sef? You no dey see? Look at this woman, if you no know how to drive, why you no go employ driver? I-go-drive-myself, that is how una go dey look for trouble, up and down.”
So, I come in my article today to report LASTMA to Governor Sanwo-Olu. We, the residents and motorists plying this area and suffering and sweating (not smiling), want to use this medium to appeal to you to appeal to LASTMA to dismantle the Ruga settlement of cars, trucks, kekes and okadas that always gather in this area to disturb our peace with horns, smoke and noise.
I mean, we are tired of this Ruga settlement of mechanical cows. It makes sense that if we discussing about other Ruga settlements, we should discuss this one too. We don’t want. We don’t want. We don’t want. And, if you don’t do something about it soon, Chief Servant, I wouldn’t mind continuing to say “we don’t want” “we don’t want” until the long line we form with the expression will stretch from here to Alausa Secretariat the seat of your government.
If you live around Isolo, Okota, Jakande Estate, Ijegun, Ikotun, Iba Estate, etc and experience this frustration and headache like I do everyday, and you agree with what I am saying here, can I see you raise your hand? Raise it higher! Thank you, very much. I feel you. I believe that Sanwo-Olu feel us too.
So, Sir, when are you going to remove this mechanical Ruga settlement at Oke-Afa axis? In case you don’t know, the situation is so chaotic that LASTMA people, if they must say the truth are tired of it. In fact, they don’t bother about doing something about it anymore. As far as they are concerned, it has defied whatever traffic solution has been thrown at it so far, and is likely to continue to do so for God-knows-when.
Sir Sanwo-Olu, I hear that you gave an order that LASTMA traffic wardens should not go home until about 11pm? Chief Servant, I don’t think that order is going to work within Oke-Afa traffic axis o. This is because LASTMA officials manning that area go home before dusk, I believe, to go and take some tablets of Paracetamol and catch some sleep to cure the headache created by the wahala they went through in the daytime while controlling the traffic.
To remove the Ruga settlement created by this traffic, I will like to suggest, to start with, that the Lagos State government fill up all the potholes on all the roads within the axis and hindering smooth movement of vehicles. Secondly, let the LASTMA officials controlling traffic there should not go home till midnight. Fellow motorists, if you agree, again raise your hand. Raise it higher!