Lagos: Waiting Long For Iyana Ejigbo Road
THE sight and sound of a grader roaring to and fro Iyana Ejigbo Road Tuesday last week surprised road users. And they had good reason to wonder: after many months of pain, they probably had given in to despairing thoughts that the road has been abandoned. But even more amazing is the fact that the road, which has trapped them in hours-long gridlocks and caused damage to vehicle parts, is receiving remedy – less than a month to the general elections!
Many a commuter still remembers nerve-wracking days when passing through the road equalled booking an appointment with frustration. It is a short stretch of some four hundred metres that could be passed in a minute. Its ability to cause pain, however, could linger in the psyche for days.
For some commuters, wisdom began with avoiding the road entirely and taking the longer but motorable Egbeda axis. For some, still, plying the road had to be done only at the late hours of 11 or 12pm. The notoriety of the road, however, was such that no art could predict its power to surprise, as some motorists have found themselves struggling to break free from its gridlock, as ‘early’ as 12am.
Two years ago, Governor Fashola had given assurance to residents of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area that solution would be offered to the problem of bad roads in the area.
He was addressing members of Community Development Associations across the state, during the celebration of year 2013 Community Day, at Police College Parade Ground, Ikeja.
“As for residents of Ejigbo, I feel your pain as regards your bad road network. I must confess, I received all your text messages, and I feel your pain. Presently, we are working on 254 roads in the state. All our contractors are engaged and the weather is not in our favour. As soon as there is climate satisfaction, we will move to improve road network in Ejigbo. I feel your pain,” the governor had said.
When The Guardian spoke with the Executive Secretary of Ejigbo LCDA, Mr. Tajudeen Jaiye Alabi, last week – Wednesday, January 22, 2015 – the climate, once again, was in the dock, accused, as it were, of tying the hands of both the state government and the LCDA behind their backs, and preventing them from coming to the rescue of residents.
Clearly, climate is a criminal.
“No! No!! No!!!” exclaimed Mr. Alabi, as he countered allegation that Iyana Ejigbo has been abandoned. “The stretch of road, up to Powerline Junction, was done by the state government. The rains continued even till December; it was so torrential. You don’t need to be an engineer to know that you cannot do any road construction during the rain. So, immediately the rain stops…”
The Executive Secretary spoke glowingly of the Fashola administration and its “passion” to see that all roads in Lagos State are motorable. He also gave assurance that the state would visit the road with a view to transforming it. When? “In a very, very short time.” (What time is that?)
In fairness to the state government and the LCDA, there seems to have been reduction in the degree of traffic throes on the road. Thanks partly to the completed Jakande-Ijegun Road, which has shed significant burden off Iyana Ejigbo, and the work of that lonesome grader.
“You know, we were sworn in on January 5, 2015. So, we resumed the following day, and since then, we have started working. I must say this, that Iyana Ejigbo is a federal road. But that is not even the issue. The issue is that our people must not suffer for whatever reason. We, as a local government, have a responsibility to ensure that something is done as quickly as possible. What we are doing, as a local government, is palliative. You know, as a local government, our resource is limited. But we have a responsibility to make sure that the road is passable within a very short time,” said the Executive Secretary.
Hard as The Guardian questioned why the previous administration could not put up similar palliative, the Executive Secretary remained on the defensive.
“That is not correct. The previous administration continued to work on that road. If not, that road would have totally collapsed. The previous administration worked, because I live around there. They continually worked on that road from time to time. It’s a continuous thing and that is why that road is still passable,” he said.
It is not immediately clear which work the Executive Secretary meant or what a ‘total collapse’ of the road would have looked like, besides its pre-palliative state. One thing was clear, though; Mr. Alabi’s former boss clinched the award for best local government chairman, obviously for some work well done.
“It’s because of the elections,” said Mr. Afolabi, a transporter, when he was asked to comment on the palliative. “God is greater than them all. They can’t come back, by God’s grace. They neglected the road for eight years, and now they claim they are rehabilitating it. Only God will help us,” he added.
“It is because of the elections. When there was no election coming, they abandoned the road. Now, suddenly, they are repairing it,” said Michael, a driver. “All our vehicles have been damaged by the state of the road. As you can see, there are not many buses here again,” chipped in Dayo, another transporter.
“It’s not because of the elections,” said one Mr. Taiwo. He cited the drainage construction executed by the state in the area as reason for government’s delay in fixing the road. He also blamed lack of alternative routes in the region, saying, had the government gone ahead to repair the road, the gridlock would have been unbearable. He suggested that with the Jakande-Ijegun Road now operational, and the NNPC-Idimu Road nearing completion, Iyana Ejigbo is ripe for intervention.
“It might be as a result of the elections, and it might not be. Only government can tell. But one thing is certain, we have suffered a lot because of the condition of this road,” said Mr. Semiu, a transport workers’ union leader in the area. “We have been to the headquarters in Alausa over this road. They told us that they have plenty work on their hands, and would want, first, to finish work on Isheri Road. They said they would repair the road before the election. Our vehicles have suffered a lot of damage. We appreciate this palliative, but our prayer is that a thorough job would be done.”
The palliative being put in place by the LCDA transcends Iyana Ejigbo. The Guardian, on Thursday, moved through Ejigbo community and found that the impassable gully at Alh. Kolawole Sebili Street has been filled with sand. Motorists had previously forsaken use of the street, a key bypass to Iyana Ejigbo. Repairs have also commenced at the deplorable stretch between Ejigbo police station and Oceanic Bus stop.
One thing is clear, as little as the palliative is, and whatever the motive behind it is, road users would be the better for it; they would heave a momentary sigh of relief over neglected roads that ‘have not been abandoned’.
On the other hand, it is a welcome coincidence that causes roads to be rehabilitated one month to election. Residents might need to intensify prayers that elections would hold every month of the year. Amen!