Residents suffer, lament abandonment of Ago-Palace road
FOR years, residents of Okota, a densely populated suburb in Isolo axis of Lagos, and its environs suffered untold hardship due to the dilapidated state of Ago Palace Way, and the streets in the area.
Several appeals to successive governments in the state by the residents to reconstruct the Ago Palace road, a very important link road to several areas in the state proved abortive. The residents, who are mainly non-indigenes, resorted to self-help to provide palliative measures on the roads in the area for years.
Temporary relief, however, came when two years ago, the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola awarded contract for the construction of the road to a Chinese construction firm, Chinese Engineering Construction Company (CECC). The firm took several months to construct the first phase of the project, which commenced at Ago roundabout and terminated at the Century bus stop.
Residents criticised the construction firm for its slow pace of work, which made the first phase last longer than expected. Though, government attributed the delay to some unresolved legal tussle between some affected landowners and the government.
With the completion of the first phase, residents eagerly looked forward for the commencement of the second phase of the road which starts at Century bus stop and terminates at Ago-Okota-Amuwo Odofin link bridge.
But unfortunately, the delay continued until the 2015 polls came closer and the construction firm was mobilised to site again by the state government. Many residents had then described the move as a political gimmick by government to ensure that the residents vote for the ruling party in the state during the elections.
The firm immediately commenced work on the road. Drainage culverts were built and completed. There was concrete pavement used to divide the road in the centre. A channel was done from the ever-troubling waterlogged spot at the Community Road bus stop to the canal.
Before the elections, the construction firm laid interlocking stones on one side of the road, starting from the link bridge and stopped in front of the Greenfield Estate at Amonota bus stop.
From there, the firm’s approach to work became sluggish and suspicious. By the first week of April, CECC pulled out of the site. One of their workers, who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that the construction firm stopped work on the road due to poor funding by the state government. The company’s office at Amuwo-Odofin has been under lock since then.
For the residents and users of the road, it has become a nightmare for months now. With deep gully on it, the road has become impassable. Because of its deplorable state, motorists and commuters have long abandoned one side, a situation that has made it possible for owners of articulated vehicles to use it as a park. Plying the road especially when it rains is better imagined, than experienced especially for car owners.
On daily basis, vehicles break down on it. Some of them are held up by the swampy and muddy sand on the road. Okada riders do quick business because motorcycle remains the only easy means of passing through the road. They normally ride on top of the drainage culverts by the roadside. Those who cannot afford to pay for okada, trek long distance to Amonota bus stop to board a vehicle, while those who dare to use their cars usually spend hours in the traffic snarl.
Speaking to The Guardian on the ordeal of the road users, the chairman, Greenfield Estate Residents Association, Prince Nixon Okwara, said the state government has not treated the residents of the area fairly, stressing that the situation is typical of what the residents have been experiencing in area of infrastructure from inception.
“Government is only interested in revenues. It is quite unfortunate that this road has been abandoned for months after government kick-started it. The residents are experiencing nightmare on the road on daily basis. This road is very strategic and important because it is linked to several places. It serves as alternative to the ever traffic-jammed Mile 2 bridge,” Okwara said.
To Chief Nat Okoli of the Palace Way Estate, the state government should as a matter of urgency complete the work because the users have suffered enough. “We are tired of providing palliative measures on the road. If the government knows they will not complete it, they wouldn’t have start work on it, only to abandon it half way. It was better and manageable the way it was before than now.”