Tragedy Looms At Lagos Bus Stop
Traders Overtake Road, As Authorities Look The Other Way
IF there’s a location in Lagos that needs the prompt attention of the state government, traffic management agency and the police, it is Second Rainbow Bus Stop on the Oshodi-Mile2 Expressway. The place is a disaster in the waiting.
The menace, here, began with commercial motorcyclists (popularly known as okada), who cluster the service lane, scouting for passengers. Then came Keke NAPEP tricycles with operators carving out a section of the road leading into Festac Extension as their territory. With the introduction of mini commercial buses by the Amuwo Odofin Local Council, space on the road was narrowed further, forcing motorists to use just one lane, as they drive into Festac from Second Rainbow.
Despite the existing chaos, an evening market still flourishes in the place, with traders displaying their wares indiscriminately on walkways that lie between the service lane and the main road. Consequently, pedestrians are forced unto the road. Danfo bus drivers also halt indiscriminately to pick up passengers. Here, the concept of a bus stop is simply non-existent.
Area boys running after danfo drivers to issue them ‘tickets’; commuters chasing moving vehicles, desperate to hop in; okada riders competing for passengers; traders flaunting their items… The disorderliness is better imagined! The ‘market’, meanwhile, grows by the day and continues to attract high patronage. Fresh fruits; second hand clothings; beverages; wrist watches; shoes; phone accessories… even as deadly container laden trucks and fuel tankers snake past!
A commuter, Mrs. Stella Obiji, lamented: “If you pass here in the morning, you might not get a clear picture of the chaos. But in the evening, you will discover just how bad this place has become. Crossing the road has never been more dangerous. You risk being run over by a vehicle or hit by an okada. This place is supposed to be a walkway for pedestrians. Sadly, hawkers have taken it over. Now, we are forced to walk on the road, risking our lives.”
On the other side of the expressway, leading to Oshodi, the story is no better; traders have also encroached into the service lane.
“I don’t blame these people; I blame the government and security agencies, who have abandoned their jobs. In any sane society, people are not allowed to hawk on the expressway, talk little of displaying their wares on the road. In the past few months, Lagos has experienced a high level of recklessness; people take the laws into their hands and no consequences follow. It is unfortunate that people often wait for a calamity to happen before they take action. It is very sad,” Mike Ifedi said.
According to Ifedi, the Lagos State government should, as a matter of urgency, deal with the situation before things get out of hand.
“You might say these people should take responsibility for risking their lives, but if anything negative happens here, the first blame will go to the government, whose duty it is to protect lives and property. If we were serious about policing our environment, I doubt if the traders would have been allowed here,” he said.
Many Lagosians are increasingly taking part in street trading, apparently oblivious of the risks involved. Almost every corner has become a potential market. And with a biting economy, countrymen and women, the young, middle aged, and old, are setting up rickety tables everywhere in order to eke a living. But seeking bread along a busy road like the Apapa-Oshodi is certainly a suicide mission!
Although many of the traders refused to speak, a few who opened up to The Guardian said the high cost of renting a shop in Lagos has left them with no better option.
“Oga, it’s not like we enjoy coming here to sell things. But where do you expect someone, like me, to find money and pay for a shop in Lagos? If I spend hundreds of thousands to pay for a shop, where will I find money to buy goods? This is the only way of survival for us,” an angry Chima, one of the traders, spat.
Another, John, who sells used shoes, said it was the only way he could feed his family and pay his children’s school fees. “Upon all the money we have in this country, the poor masses are still suffering. If there are jobs in this country, you won’t find me here selling okrika shoes. I have three children in school; this is how I make money to train them. Since government has abandoned us, we have to find ways to survive.”
Asked if he’s aware of the danger of trading on such a busy road, John answered: “This is a busy location; a lot of people pass here at evenings. That makes it easier for us to sell our items. It’s not that we stay here permanently; we only come in the evening, sell, and go. Do you see any table here? You people (addressing the reporter) should help us ask the government to create open markets for people like us, who don’t have enough money to rent shops. Personally, if I have a better place, I won’t come back here.”
Dapo Akinjide, a commuter who frequents Second Rainbow Bus Stop, said the problem is an indication to the many trials that face the ordinary Nigerian.
“When you begin to see people risking their lives on the highway, to earn a living, you know there’s a big issue. What’s the essence of making money but take care of yourself and family? For these people to display their wares on the highway, with all these containers and trailers, here and there, it tells you how much they’ve lost hope in the system,” he said.
He, nevertheless, cautioned the traders, saying, “People should value their lives; there’s no reason enough for anybody to put his life on the line in this manner. This road was renovated recently. As a result, drivers now move faster on it. I hope we don’t hear any sad story soon.”
Investigation shows that the traders actually pay on daily basis to display their wares at this location. A source said some area boys, who allegedly operate under the cover of the Local Council, collect money from the traders. “That’s why it will be difficult to drive them away; they pay the area boys, who control this place,” the source added.
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