Sanity takes flight from Lagos’ Grease Land
Once upon a time, Matori, Palm Avenue and Papa Ajao were the highbrow areas of Mushin Local Council of Lagos State. It was a scenic enclave tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and the riotous Mushin city centre, infamous for its incessant street combat. That was before Ladipo auto spare parts market berthed there.
Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expands their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.
The worth of the market is too enormous to evaluate. It is an informal market brimming with massive human and material resources. Directly or indirectly, there is a touch of Ladipo market in every Lagos home with an automobile.
Besides, the market also services the spare part needs of many car owners across Nigeria, as most of the parts are shipped into the country through the Lagos ports.
The market is rumored to generate about eight per cent of the state’s revenue yearly. There are over 10 million cars plying Lagos roads. Nearly 90 per cent of these cars are potential Ladipo Market clients. A 2015 statistics released by the Lagos State government stated that 78 per cent of the 1.8 million vehicles that were registered in the state were used ‘tokunbo’ vehicles.
There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.
At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. The grease-soiled ground reminds any visitor that the market isn’t meant for suits and knotted ties. The regular work tools are a simple shirt (T-shirt preferably) on a pair of jeans and a boot or any footwear that must definitely cover your toes.
Though the business might look greasy and dirty, there are huge profits being churned out by the dealers of spare parts and used goods, cart pushers for hire, and most especially the throng of bystanders also known as freelancers, whose job it is to scout for prospective buyers and link them up traders for a commission.
However, the boisterous market has become a menace too hot for any administration in the state to handle. Countless shutdown to rein in traders for flouting sanitation laws, constituting environmental hazards and breaching public peace over leadership tussle, has proved futile.
Residents and road users within and around the market have resigned to fate after deploring severally in very strong terms the incessant gridlock occasioned by the deteriorating state of the road, and the abhorrent activities of traders and artisans in the market.
Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where uncountable numbers of cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines, and even spray vehicles right on the road.
The gridlock experienced around the market is worsened when warehouses, which line the service lane at the Toyota bus-stop, receive batches of containers bringing imported spare-parts and scraps from the wharf. They are offloaded right on the road, making swift movement become cumbersome and near impossible.
Outraged at the chaos in the market, the state government has on a number of occasions, made efforts to return sanity to the place, and restore law and order, but all to no avail.
Measures taken in the past, which range from shutting down the market for lengthy periods, to compelling the traders to clean it up, and attempting to ease the traffic with security personnel, have all failed woefully.
Policemen stationed around to help matters and maintain law and order, have become an addition to the problems, as some of them now allocate parking lots to shoppers and motorists who want to fix their vehicles, for a fee.
A motorist, Mr. Akeem Bello, expressed disappointment at government’s failure to take a firm stand on returning sanity to the market. He said whatever revenue the government may be getting from there notwithstanding, the comfort of other road users should never be sacrificed for that of the traders.
President, Ladipo Market Central Committee, Mr. Kinsley Ogunor, lamented that efforts to rid the service lane of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, have been unsuccessful, as the prevalent hardship in the country is still forcing artisans to convert parts of the road to mechanic workshops.
“I have mandated those operating there not to be parking vehicles on the side bordering the expressway. Sadly, the current hardship in the country is not helping matters, and that is why some of these problems cannot be completely eradicated. As a group, we will continue to do our best to ensure that sanity returns in the market,” he said.
AND for many residents of Mushin and its environs, who have been troubled by the perennial traffic snarl around Ladipo Market, relief may have come finally, as the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday promised to build a multi-layer car park within the market, so that vehicles will not be parked on the roads, obstructing free flow of traffic.
The governor also promised to reconstruct the two major roads within the market, which are in deplorable state to further aid free flow of traffic around the area.Ambode, who was on an unscheduled visit to the market, was welcomed by jubilant traders, who must have been apprehensive that the governor was there to inspect the market with the intention to order its relocation.
But rather than announced the rumoured relocation of the market, immediately the governor announced the plan to reconstruct the deplorable roads and build a multi-layer car park, the traders applauded with claps and praise singing.
He asked the traders to cooperate with the various chairmen in the market, as he would be meeting with them next week to discuss modalities to uplift the market’s physical plan.
Over the years, commuting around the market has been a perennial headache because traders and customers usually park their vehicles on the road.With the governor’s new position, the call for the relocation or demolition of the market has now been buried.
“When I came here during the campaign, part of my promises was to construct the bad roads here. I should have come earlier because I have spent one and half years in office. I am not pleased with the state of the roads within this market. So we are going to reconstruct Alhaji Akinwunmi and Ladipo streets.
“I have noticed that some things are missing in this market. We will construct a multi-layer car park within this market. With this, all the cars will be at the same location. Only loading and offloading will take place on the road.
“To start with, we will commence the process for the construction with a stakeholders’ meeting next week. At the meeting, we will agree on the process and how the project will be done. We will rearrange the market so that we can commence the construction work next month.