Ajao residents decry bad roads, dearth of infrastructure

PHOTO: NOJEEM

For many years, residents and business operators in Ajao Estate, located in Oshodi/Isolo local government area of Lagos State, have being living in abandonment and pains, due to poor road networks linking the neigbhourhoods.

The estate, an affluent residential location, is strategically close to the Lagos airport and boasts of shopping malls, relaxation spots, nightclubs, restaurants, and some corporations.

But despite the existence of various means of transportation in the corridor, the bad state of the roads there has made living a nightmare for motorists and commuters.

The apparent absence of lack of government impact, especially in terms of road rehabilitation, has resulted in unnecessary loss of man-hour, accidents, armed robbery attacks and economic misfortune. Indeed, the plight of commuters and motorists plying the area is better imagined.

Interestingly, some residents are alleging that their woes can be traced to the people’s refusal to vote for the ruling party in past elections.

Investigations by The Guardian revealed that the major link roads in the estate at Asa Afariogun Street, Nwogbodo Eze Street, Lateef Salami, Benson Anorue, Adewale Street, Gobham, Stella Osonaikai, Akinola Solakai, Olutosin Ajasin, Captain Lambert, and Leo Ikeagwu Street, among others, are riddled with many gaping potholes, thus, providing a fertile ground for accidents and regular breakdown of vehicles, whenever it rains.

It was gathered that at various times, residents/community associations and companies within the estate took their destiny into their hands through voluntary contributions to fix portions of the roads. So, all the passable roads in the area are as a result of this.

At different times, the communities had also cried out to local and state authorities for help, but all this has been to no avail.

Findings revealed that during a recent attempt, the Local Council Authority officials requested for fund collaboration, requesting that some of the business operators/community associations contribute money and remit it to authority before any support would be forthcoming. The people, however, declined, fearing possible embezzlement of such funds.

Tracing the genesis of the problem, the Chairman of Ajao Estate Central Community Development Association, Mr. Leo Ikeagwu, a lawyer, explained that the problem of roads within the estate began, when the state government decided to open up a road within Vincent Eze axis linking the Oke Afa Bridge.

He said: “This is the CDA that connects other CDAs within Ajao Estate, as it represents the estate before Lagos State government. We always go to government in the company of my team from other CDAs. Before government opened a road within Vincent Eze to link Oke Afa Bridge, only canoes used to ply the place. The residents resisted it, because we foresaw the present predicament, and the terrible condition the roads have been plunged into.”

According to him, the association knew that if the road were opened, the whole traffic from Badagry Road, Iba, Ilasa and Okota, among others, would be diverted to the estate.

“All the people trading at Ilasa pass through the estate,” he told The Guardian. “The situation became worse, when Okada riders were permitted to ply the road. These people became a big source of crimes in Ajao Estate, so we reported to the government, but there was no response, until the police came to station an armoured vehicle within the estate.

“The Okada riders were so reckless and uncaring. They would bash your car and if you complained, they would gather themselves and cruelly attack you. They also used Okada to trail people to their homes, where they then rob the occupants. They even ambushed a woman that went to withdraw money on my property, and made away with her N500, 000. There was another case of a big man’s driver that was shot. With all these incidents, the association wrote the Assistant Inspector General of Police/Area Commander. The police then said it was a security issue, and that was how Okada was banned from the estate, which gave us some respite.”

But hardly had they solved the okada menace, when the traffic situation became a nightmare, due to the destroyed road network, thereby compounding the problems of residents.

He said: “The roads have become so bad, as a heavy vehicular traffic started passing through the estate. If the roads were good, we would have coped with the traffic, or there are traffic officers controlling the traffic. But the officers are only never found where the traffic is bad.

“The road constructed behind the canal and the Catholic Church was supposed to have gone straight, but it was diverted towards Leo Ikeagwu Street, which has resulted in traffic jam. And now, the road leading to Niyi Ogunbameru and Canoe Streets, among others have become very chaotic. I left my office since 3:30pm and didn’t get to my house until after 8pm.

“As a community, we have made effort by expanding some of the roads, as we observed that these roads are too narrow.

“At every available opportunity, we made appeals to the local authority, but nobody responded. We want the government to come and help us repair the roads, especially from the Church down to the Canal. If they helped us repair them, then we start maintaining them. Again, traffic officers should be made to come to the area to control traffic flow during peak periods, so that people can get to their homes and work on time.”

Corroborating the chairman, the Secretary General of Ndigbo and South-South Union of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, Raphael Bassey, who also resides in the estate said: “People who are going from the estate to Iba, Oke Afa, Orisunbare, Coker Estate and Badagry now ply the estate roads, due to the fact that Badagry road is not motorable. There is a serious pressure on our roads. Most of our streets are now have gates to control the crime rate. Even Okadas that had been banned still ply our roads.”

Another resident, Group Captain Niyi Ogunbameru, who has lived in the neighbourhood for over 30 years, said the roads have remained the same over the years, without any effort by government to improve them.

He said: “I am one of the early settlers in this estate. And since I came here, there hasn’t been any development whatsoever on the roads. What we have at the moment is through the efforts of the communities. Occasionally, we levy ourselves to raise funds. Our roads have so many potholes and are so uncomfortable. In fact, we have become regular visitors to mechanic workshops because of the condition of the roads.

Since I came here, I have never seen or felt the state or local governments’ presence. Government should let us feel the dividends of democracy.

“If you go to other communities, you will find better roads and other infrastructures, but Ajao Estate is still like a farm.

I believe if government would assist us, things would be better. Chivita, a firm located here, has been very helpful to us. Occasionally, they help to repair the roads, but they also contribute to the deterioration of the roads because a lot of their haulage vehicles are very heavy. When it rains, the potholes are covered and so, you don’t know which of the holes is deep or not and drivers just run into them.”

Mr. Julius Odey, a tricycle operator in the area said the neglect of the road is seen by some sections of the estate as politically motivated.

He said: “About 90 per cent of residents in the estate are Igbos, and so government is saying because the people didn’t vote for it, they have decided to punish them by not repairing the roads. But government should be for everybody. At least, I know that about 10 per cent of the people living in the estate are Yoruba. Why should government neglect the estate?”

On her part, Mrs. Joy Adepelumi, a trader in the estate, appealed to authorities to wade into the matter, by making budgetary provision for road repairs. She said residents are considering nomination of credible House of Representatives’ candidate that would help them when he’s voted in 2019.

She said: “The state of the roads is so deplorable that residents find it hard to go out of their homes with ease. Elected representatives from the area have done nothing to assist in fixing the roads in Ajao Estate.”

Reacting to the allegations, the Director, Public Affairs of Lagos State Ministry of works and infrastructure, Shina Thorpe said the state government has rehabilitated some roads in the area, and that residents have to identify the specific roads that require government’s attention.

He explained that the state government has constructed about five roads in the area, which include, Benson UmeajiCclose, Kola Sonibare Street, Ejigbo Ajao Link Bridge, Baale Sokooni and Niyi Ogunbameru Streets.

“This is a government for everybody,” he told The Guardian. “We have done some roads in Ajao Estate and we have to do roads in other areas too. Residents can’t say all the government resources should be channeled to only their area.”

He advised the resident association to write a letter of appeal to the ministry, in order to consider the area in the next plan for road construction in the state.

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AJAO ESTATELagos State
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