So Iyana Ejigbo sef go get street lights? hmmnn…

A section of Iyana Ejigbo road

A section of Iyana Ejigbo road

The Lagos State government is a master of ironies. That is good, anyway, at least, as far as the good old Jakande-Ejigbo-Ikotun road is concerned. Just when residents of the area had surrendered to what they believed was grim fate – the abandonment of a key traffic artery – Governor Akinwunmi Ambode stepped into office and wowed the people. From the dark days when commuters spent two, three, four hours plying the horrendous stretch, the helmsman grabbed a sheet of paper, as it were, and rewrote 10 minutes! Bravo!

Having become accustomed to suffering, many of the road users simply wanted an intervention – any intervention that would make motoring a little easier than driving through caverns and canyons, perhaps a visit by a grader or something that would just even up the cruel road surface.

“We are suffering,” lamented one commercial driver. “We don’t understand what is going on at Iyana Ejigbo. Our vehicles are breaking down. The gridlock is so unpredictable; it can start at any moment. The road is very deplorable, and if people decide to go one-way, LASTMA officials and policemen will accost them. Sometimes, you might spend as much as two hours instead of one minute between Iyana Ejigbo and Egbe Bridge!” writes The Guardian in ‘Hell’s Road Can’t Be This Terrible’ (Sunday, November 9, 2014).

The graders eventually came. The pavers followed. The rollers took their turn. And now streetlights, yes streetlights are appearing! While lampposts from the Ikotun end (up to Powerline junction) have been fitted, in Iyana Ejigbo, the poles, supported by concrete bases, tower above the road, waiting for the installation of the dual bulb-bearing arms.

Asked what he thought about the development, one elated resident on Wednesday said it would give the government “a lot of mouth” to ask people in the area to pay tax. Another, an Okada rider, said he would vote for Governor Ambode “if the man wan go second time.” One other, yet, said, “like Oliver Twist, the people still want more.”

When The Guardian hinted to one resident that the new road is only a tip of the iceberg, as the entire Ejigbo hinterland is plagued with terrible roads, he responded: “Ejigbo is a Banana republic. This road is like a small light shining out of great darkness.”

His words are thought provoking. Like the story of the bushman who boarded a vehicle but would not put down the heavy load on his head, there is concern the Lagos State government might be extending development to a people unfortunately so used to ‘darkness’.

At a commissioning of a phase of the Light Up project, last week, Ambode enjoined “all Lagosians to take ownership of this public facility (streetlights) and protect them from willful damage by those who thrive in criminality under the cover of darkness. If you see any actions aimed at destroying these facilities, please call the State Emergency number 112 and our security agencies will be at the location in no time.”

Before installation is completed, before the governor’s convoy ever arrives for any commissioning, it appears some of the lampposts are already falling over. At the Ile-Epo bus stop area, one of these tilts in a way that suggests a hit and run driver had bumped into it. Further up, at the Ile-Iwe bus stop area, two other posts seem to be waiting for the perfect time to drop to the earth. Some force, it appeared, had knocked them roughly.

“What will government do that some people will not destroy?” one man asked angrily, vowing that had he been around when the posts took the hit, he would have apprehended the culprits. “I will hold the person,” he swore, adding: “All of us are government.”

He urged the state government, however, to construct the median strip in a way the lampposts would be out of harm’s way.

“The government has really tried,” said one man. “But this is not how to make lampposts,” he added. “They are not strong.” Asked what he meant, he drew attention to the fourth lamppost before Ile-Epo bus stop (i.e., from Iyana Ejigbo), and concluded, “Look, the thing is dancing.” Dancing ke? It’s a lie!

Reminiscent of a seesaw, the bulb-bearing arm of the post was actually doing a slow salsa high up in the air, long before the rainstorms come. Is it okay then to wonder how many thousand kindred poles in the Light Up Lagos Project are dancing Awilo or perhaps skelewu? Well, maybe one shouldn’t.

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