•Residents defy rain, protest state of roads in Lagos community
By Job Osazuwa
AN early morning downpour pounded the streets of Lagos on Sunday, March 21. But the rains couldn’t prevent the residents of Kirikiri, a popular community in Oriade Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state from protesting the deplorable state of roads in the area.
As early as 8.30am, the people had converged on the totally collapsed Dillion Road, to express anger and disappointment over successive governments’ sheer abandonment of virtually all the roads, connecting the area.
The very worst of the roads, Daily Sun gathered, is Dillion, which also happens to be the most central and busiest road in the area. The road has turned to a death trap. Long vehicles carrying containers have on several occasions, wobbled and tumbled on the road, leaving many victims with varying degrees of injuries. Economic activities in the area have become paralysed owing to the sorry state of the roads.
School children are not left out of the punishment meted out to the people there. Riding on school buses, tricycles and motorcycles to and fro their schools is hellish. Now that the rainy season is creeping in, there is palpable fear in the area that their plight would worsen. During the rains, the streets and many houses are inundated with floodwater from the blocked drainage system.
On that fateful Sunday, in large numbers, the residents abandoned their respective duties, came out and allowed the rain to freely drench them, as they sang solidarity songs, calling on both the federal and state governments to come to their rescue. The people said they had cried to authorities concerned, both at the federal and state levels to come to their rescue, but all to no avail.
According to them, the state government, in the past, had always passed the ball to the Federal Government, leaning on the fact that the most affected Dillion road belongs to the latter, which political party then was different from that of the state. Now that All progressives Congress (APC) controls both the federal and state government, the residents, again, are holding both by the jugular to do the needful as soon as possible.
Priests from Saint Joseph Catholic Church and Anglican Comzmunion, both in Kirikiri, were also at the rally. They joined the protesters in the rain and lent their voices to the incalculable losses, the people said they had suffered and are still suffering.
It is the same songs of sorrow the people had been singing in the past decade. But the protesters said they would not rest until they were convinced that real work had started on that road which had been approved for rehabilitation by the state government.
For about an hour, vehicular movements came to a halt. Residents volunteered their vehicles to block the Dillion junction, leading to Kirikiri and Berger areas. Those who were trying to manoeuvre the potholes to their various places of work were prevented from doing so. Motorcycle riders were also stopped from getting to their destinations.
Traders at the area, both old and young, joined the march. They called on Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to investigate why work was yet to commence on the road. They also want him to set up a committee to ensure that a competent contractor handles the rehabilitation.
The road, as gathered, is one of the 114 roads approved last year for rehabilitation by Governor Ambode. The governor, it was gathered, ordered the projects to be left in the care of the local government areas that benefited from the reconstruction. He charged the council’s Executive Secretaries to judiciously ensure that the projects meet international standard.
Investigation by Daily Sun also revealed that each of the roads was to be delivered in six months from the day of commencement of work. Meanwhile, about six months down the line, residents are worried that there is no sign that the road would be fixed soon.
The angry residents accused the council authorities of not swinging into action to ensure that work commences immediately on the bad road. In fact, they accused the LCDA of playing politics and foot-dragging over which of the contractors to be given the project.
One of the residents said: “We heard that a popular road construction company, which was supposed to have executed the project, was not given the job because of unnecessary demands from some top executives. They wanted their friends and preferred contractors to handle the work, not considering whether the road will stand the test of time at the end of the day. As a result of that, there has been postponement here and there.”
The Vicar of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church, located on Okoduwa Street, off Dillion Street, Venerable Levi Opara, who was also actively involved in the peaceful demonstration, said he had been paying his taxes. He said there was no reason for the government’s inability to fulfil its part of the social contract. According to him, there had been several broken promises from successive governments.
He called on the state government to expedite action on the road so as to ameliorate the people’s plight. He lamented that those residents were tired of crying without help coming to them.
“This road has been bad for a long time and it has turned to a death trap. We have written many letters to governments without positive result. We heard this Dillion Road had been awarded but we don’t know why there is still the delay. We want to see the Executive Secretary of Oriade here to come and explain better to us. We understand that the matter had left the office of the governor to the local government.
“We should not continue to suffer on this road. I pay my tax from the source, likewise other residents here. Those of us that have vehicles are afraid to drive on the road. Many times, I come out from my house but l would be trapped for more than two hours because of the bad roads. I have personally written letters to the state government but they told me then that the road is a federal one. Thank God we now have same party ruling both at the state level and at the federal level. Whoever will fix the road does not matter, so long as our tears are wiped away at the end of the day,” Opara said.