by Larry Happiday
Although Raji Fashola, the Lagos State Governor has been a meteor, an avatar of development in Lagos, nay in Nigeria, my visit to Victoria Island yesterday left me shell-shocked at the amazing level of evening of bad roads but, more, by the degree of mindlessness that the administration’s star-roads advertise.
I was in Victoria Island yesterday to meet with a client at the Lagos Business School, LBS. for the first time in nearly twenty years, I was to enter Kofo Abayomi Street and the adjoining streets leading up to Mobile Towers. You would not imagine my surprise at the utter hopelessness of roads in this exclusive area patronized by the high and mighty. I could help but think that there is a democratization of misery going by the similarity of slum roads that were rocking through. The roads looked every bit the same poor facility as they are in Amukoko or Agege or Okoko.
Reminds me, the state of Freedom road in Lekki 1 can only be meant for people in gaol to prevent their quick escape. And these are said to be elite areas where rents are astronomical and wayward. Somebody help me! The ugly face of elite roads would form the fulcrum of another write up but for now, I’m just stupefied that despite huge budgetary commitments to well-intentioned and systematic upgrade of road facilities in Lagos, there still a huge question mark: is Lagos’ development a mindless development? Is the development process conscious of the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak? What about the healthy as well as the sick? The able as well as the disable?
In this modern stage of our development I find that most, if not all the new roads are not handicap-friendly. In the article The Maturing of Fashola, I had deposed that the quality of his projects is progressively improving. I had also observed that that the administration needed to do more to make the new roads handicap-friendly.
Now, I think this call is even more cogent. My client and I had a drive-meeting and I was dropped off at mobile Oil Towers by the new Lekki-Epe expressway. There the realization hit me smack in the face. This controversial Expressway built through concession was even less than revolutionary. What mindless and conscienceless road is this?
Make no mistakes about this…it is a beautiful road, it is wide, smooth but…phewwww! Where in earth’s sake is the walkway? Where is the cyclist lane? Gossshhh! Okay, the sidewalks are grudgingly there but in some parts incomplete; in other parts, they are so high, they cannot have been built with the handicapped and aged in mind. Add to this the Idowu Oniru Bus Stop nearby and you will get a complete picture of callousness on the part of the minders of this road.
The Bus Stop looked busy but the gutters were not covered: no slabs. The gigantic iron sheets placed over the gutter in front of the shed screamed continuously that it was out of place, off-design, whether those at the shed heard or not is not clear. As with the bus shelter, the entire drainage was uncovered.
Why? I think the model the model being used in College Road, Ogba needs to be emulated. Here, the contractor has an accurate sense of timing and proportion. All the elements of the road construction are installed at the same time and they turn out just beautiful and modern. I wonder why the Concessionaire was allowed to start tolling on this road when work had not been completed on the Victoria Island-Lekki axis. Or are we to assume that the State Agencies responsible for road design are not living up to their duty? For more infrastructure related article about Nigeria, go to Nigeria Infrastructure News