- Residents of Lekki, VGC and Ikeja GRA groan as flood takes over streets, homes
By LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU
THERE is no mistaking it. The dinghy, seedy, environment and unmotorable or badly patched roads and poorly maintained drainages immediately tells you when you walk into the neighborhood of the poor, even in the cities and towns. It is really understandable, as the tell tale signs of lack of physical development or environmental degradation that may have again caught up with such communities reflect age long official neglect or evidence of bad governance that seems always the lot of the common man.
The rich and the influential who live in highbrow districts never seems to have to worry about such lack of amenities that the average Nigerians take for granted. They are used to riding into their exotic estates and mansions on not only well paved, but also regularly maintained roads.
Well, perhaps, not anymore. The contrasts appears to be fast disappearing, as some elitist residents of exclusive areas notably Ikeja GRA, Victoria Garden City (VGC), Lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island (V.I) all in Lagos Metropolis,seems to be waking up to. In these neighborhoods the streets and the roads are crying of neglect. They are in deplorable conditions and their big residents have discovered that “The rich also cry”
Some of the roads in the areas are either without drainage system or are only half completed,Ironically, Isaac John street, which hosts one of the state governor’s lodges and even the residence of the current Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed is one of the major lanes giving residents the nightmare. From the Lagos Country Club to Protea Hotel ends of the street, the road, with barely slight traces of asphalt on it, is puckered at different points, with muddy water collecting in the craters and pot holes that dot the entire stretch. Motorists now have to endure harrowing, bumpy ride from mmediately after the Eye Foundation, building on the street, up till the Sobo Arobiodu Street intersection, as the asphalt totally disappears.
Saturday Sun had a taste of the hellish experience motorists and residents go through riding on the impending gully the road is gradually turning into during a visit to the area on Tuesday. The driver of a black Landcruiser jeep had a raw deal trying to maneuver a bad portion of the road. Other motorists especially visitors or first timers were asking the reporter for directions to safe portions of the road to navigate.
One of the motorists who identified himself as Ayo expressed worry about the damage the road would do to his car saying he would need to look for a car wash to clean the mud stains on his car because he was going for a business meeting and would not want to enter his client’s premises with a dirty car.
Another motorist and a resident of the street, Dr. Emeka Akachukwu expressed his agony. He said the pointers that the government was going to abandon the road had been there since, saying “it took the government more than three years to complete the drainage system.”
“I have lived for six years in the area. The road was once good. It started to change when the government deployed some men to redo the drainage system. When the drainage system was finished after three years, about two weeks ago, these same men came scraped the asphalt layer of the road and now it has been abandoned.”
Like Ayo, Dr Emeka said whenever he passed through the murky water before going to the office, he had to stop by a car wash to re-clean his car in order to maintain his respect among peers and colleagues.
Another resident, Rufus Oladapo added that the residents’ expectation was that the government would hasten the repair of the road considering the rainy season.
“We were expecting them to complete this work in one week, but it is now three weeks after and they are yet to start. We had hopes before when their equipment were here but now that they have removed their equipment, we are in a hopeless situation,” he said.
He gave a hint of what residents go through. He said residents dreaded coming home or going out because of the road. “Sometimes when I chat with them, they would give disheartening answers. In a short, they hate to come home.”
For Rufus, it is double jeopardy because his business, which is located on the street has suffered low patronage due to the poor state of the road. “At night, Isaac John road has now become the busiest road in the capital. Motorists spend as much as an hour to pass through the bad portion which should not take two minutes if the road is good. As a result of this, business is bad. I no longer have sales. Have you been here in the night? You won’t expect anybody to come here for any transaction”, he said.
Rufus is not the only person whose business is affected by the bad road. Studio 24, Jevinik Place, O1 Shawarma and others located on the street are also having rough times.
The manager of Studio 24, Jude Ndoli who has been doing his business on the street since 2014 lamented the adverse effect of the condition of the road on his trade. According to him, only loyal customers patronize him. He added that if his customers considered the damage the road would cause their vehicles, they often turned back and placed a call to him expressing their inability to meet up with their appointments.
Jude said that on a number of times that his customers and other residents’ cars broke down the rich people living on the street were forced to dip their legs in the murky water in order to push the cars out of the way.
“It is pathetic that our government has allowed this road to linger for so long like this. If not for anything, for the people who live on this street, I know the calibre of people who live on this street, I would not want to call names because some of them are our customers. It is killing business. We are only making losses in this place. Yesterday, my neighbour had to use his car to tow another car out of the crater before anybody could move through here,” he lamented.
Also in flashy upscale neighbourhoods like Lekki, Victoria Island (VI) and Victoria Garden City (VGC), the heavy rainfall normally experienced in the month of June has turned the motorways into a mash. .
In VGC, located after Chevron Round-about in Ajah Area, tthe roads are always flooded beyond recognition whenever there is a major downpour. Many areas in the highbrow estate were virtually submerged after last week’s rainstorm in Lagos. Many vehicles, including jeeps and SUVs, were submerged halfway in the rising waters. And residents found it almost impossible to meander their way on the roads. For pedestrians on the roads, the water level rises so high up to the waists of residents forced tortuously to wade through the floods.
For many of the residents, it is suffering and smiling situation because the deplorable states of the roads in these locales rubbish the glamour attached to staying in these neighbourhoods. “Highbrow area my foot,” blasts a resident, Mr. Cletus Ndukwe in a chat with Saturday Sun. “I don’t know the gain paying so much in rent to come and live in these perceived upscale areas. It is very humiliating, because whenever it rains, driving on the roads becomes nightmarish. Our roads could indeed be such an eyesore,and we keep asking ourselves what’s the difference between our so called classy areas to slums like Ajegunle, Mushin and Bariga.”
Other posh areas like Lekki Phase One and Two, as well as the popular Ahmadu Bello Way, in Victoria Island, are the worse affected, as the roads get massively covered with flood water. In Agungi area of Lekki, for instance, the roads are mainly flooded with run-off from blocked drainages in the area thus overflowing into major roads. Scores of residents in their vehicles have a hard time maneuvering their way out of the waterlogged roads, while many pedestrians roll-up their trousers to knee level to wade through the large pool of water on Ahmadu Bello Way and other roads in Victoria Island.
Also commoners, like commercial drivers bemoan the agony they experience when plying the deplorable roads in these areass. Many of them also scoff edthat these roads were as bad as what they encountered in various slummy areas of Lagos. They said that driving into various roads in Lekki, and VI, especially after a heavy rainfall was like a dreadful experience. This is because they easily get trapped in gridlocks caused by the poor state of the road networks in the areas.
“There is nothing classy plying through the roads off these upscale areas, because some of these roads in the island are now so horrendous, that during the dry seasons we contend with potholes and craters of the roads.The rainy seasons makes matters worse for we commercial drivers. On many occasion, we park for several minutes to drain water from theiir cars with bowls and kegs. Sometimes we even compare the poor condition of their roads to what we have in many mainland ghetto neighbourhoods. And they all seem the same,” Dayo a cab operator said.
When Saturday Sun visited the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure at Alausa, Ikeja for official position on these roads, there was no official ready to attend to this reporter, as they were all said to be at a meeting. However, a source said the rIsaac John Street oad was not abandoned, but due to be given attention, details of which, he promised to give after the meeting. However, this was not to be as at press time.