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Agony, tears as potholes flood Lagos roads again

By Benjamin Alade and Chibuzor Nwaneri
21 September 2018   |   3:26 am
The recent downpour in Lagos has reopened the potholes barely a month after repairs. BENJAMIN ALADE and CHIBUZOR NWANERI write on how the poor quality of palliatives rendered by the state and its contractors, have become a nightmare for commuters and residents in the commercial nerve centre. It was a lockdown like never before. The…

Another pothole on the same axis. PHOTO: BENJAMIN ALADE

The recent downpour in Lagos has reopened the potholes barely a month after repairs. BENJAMIN ALADE and CHIBUZOR NWANERI write on how the poor quality of palliatives rendered by the state and its contractors, have become a nightmare for commuters and residents in the commercial nerve centre.

It was a lockdown like never before.

The traffic snarl snaked across the nooks and crannies without regard for federal, state or communal roads. Vehicles were bumper-to-bumper.

Traffic paths on real-time Google map beamed oxblood across state, leaving no option for manoeuvring.

That it was a Monday (September 10) morning rush hour was bad enough.

But worse is the heavy rain that had been pelting for days. In Lagos Mega city, it doesn’t rain, it pours.

Roads inwards Lagos Island, a daily Mecca of some sort for residents and commuters, were the height of the chaos.

At 8a.m., tail lights of uniform red radiated from Bonny Camp interchange on the Island, backwards into the Third Mainland up to Oworonshoki end. Costain, Ojuelegba, Apapa end and beyond, were not left out of the overflow.

As many that were stuck had tales to tell. It is either late clock-in at workplaces or unplanned truancy.

For others, it was missed appointments, missed interviews, missed flights, others missed opportunities, experienced heartaches and lives lost in ambulances and so on.

As if the traffic was not enough for a day, the logjam continued everyday and weeklong.

Hiccups all over… One of the trademarks of Lagos traffic is the difficulty in knowing the cause.

Irrespective of the man-hour wasted, one is most likely to break free without any trace of the impediment.

For this morning of reference, it was an admixture of flooding, caused by poor drainage network and poor state of the roads.

The Bonny Camp corridors, for instance, witholds rainwater and a bottleneck for traffic flow in and out of the ever busy Lekki-Epe Expressway and Victoria Island. But beyond is a mishmash of potholes that had returned rather forcefully in the last few days.

It will be recalled that the government late 2017, intensified efforts to fix major portholes and failed sections in state.

The project, besides the construction of multiple new roads, continued this year with men and equipment of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), carrying out palliative works across the state till early this month.

Currently, there is hardly a semblance of such repairs as there is no road that is totally free of potholes.

For instance, the stretch between Cele and Iyana-Isolo on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway was recently repaired to be motorable.

Today, the section inwards Oshodi, has failed.

Ditto for all the repairs that were done on the service lane spanning Sadiku, Mechanic bus stop, Iyana-Isolo and Five-Star corridor inwards Answani Market.

Just last Friday, a multiple ghastly accident was recorded at the Toyota interchange, inwards Apapa, Lagos.

A middle-aged woman, her children, and other motorists, managed to escape death by the whiskers.

The accident, which occurred around noon, involved no fewer than nine vehicles.

The Guardian learnt that the affected vehicles were a container-laden truck, with registration number BDG 480 XC; Toyota Highlander Jeep-JJ 30 CL; a Sienna car-KRD-818 EU; and a Volkswagen commercial bus-MU 601 XP, popularly called Danfo, among others, ran into one another due to the crater right at the bend and overshadowed by a flyover.

One of the survivors, who also owns the Toyota Highlander SUV, Peter Adami, said: “This accident happened because of this pothole right on the expressway.

When we got to the spot and slowed down, the Danfo was ran over by the truck coming behind and subsequently ran into my car.”

Six vehicles were badly damaged, while the other three had minor dents.

Adami added: “My friend got injured on his leg, but the woman in the Danfo was not that lucky, as she sustained severe injuries and has been rushed to the hospital, alongside her children by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).

The Danfo driver, who was unconscious, was also taken away.”

More tears, woes for residents

Granted that it is a federal road. The state roads offer no joy either, as they are worse-off post-repairs.

The Mushin-Ikotun Road is a long and narrow stretch connecting commerce and residential areas in the state. Come day or night, weekday or weekend, the road is perpetually on lockdown.

Repair works that were recently carried out in between Ile-Iwe Metta, Aye and Ire-Akari had been washed off.

Same for Kogberegbe junction, Pako Roundabout, Jakande-Gate, NNPC Junction, Iyana-Ejigbo, Powerline bus stop, Agodo, Ile-Iwe and the descend inwards Ikotun roundabout.

The narrative is not any different commuting from Ile-Iwe Ejigbo inwards Oke-Afa and Ajao Estate to either bust out to Osolo Road or under-construction Airport Road at Mafoluku Oshodi end.

The roads have completely worsened after days of rain.

A resident, Muyiwa Akanbi, said most of the inner roads in the area are in bad shape, as little or no works are being done in the area.

“I pity my car daily. As we speak, I must see a mechanic latest Friday for repairs. The state of the road is beyond description.”

A trader who lives on Apata Street, Ejigbo, Olamide Salami, said: “The roads get very bad for those of us who live here when it rains.

At the slightest rainfall, the road becomes impassable.

Pedestrians have to walk along our shop corridors in order to avoid the pool of water.”

Agege and Alimoso ends of the state are not any better, with the woes of residents further compounded by the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, and a flyover at Pen Cinema axis.

A resident of Iyana Ipaja, Damilola Aladeselu, commended the massive infrastructure devlopment in the state though raised concern on one too many of such at the same time.

“My problem with all these projects is that they are all happening at the same time.

As you know, Agege by Pen Cinema is an escape route for traffic on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, through which you can from Alagbado area link Ikeja-Along.

“But our government decided to do the two corridors at the same time.

Yet, the contractors are doing nothing to create alternative motorable routes for traffic diversion.

Go into Agege, Oke-Odo, Abule-Egba and the rest to see these roads and we have state and local government authorities.

“Our sufferings are too much and it is a shame. The travel time of about 30 minutes is now taking us two hours or more.

Please, help us to beg them to ease our suffering in these area,” Aladeselu said.

Another eyesore is at FESTAC town.

The seven avenues, being the main arteries of FESTAC, are all laden with potholes and accident prone.

The roads, especially the second avenue, have turned into an alternative route for motorists, who would normally use the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

Some lorry loads of gravel and sand recently straightened the road for better access until few days of rain washed all away.

So, along the 3.8km stretch, there are potholes everywhere and a source of heavy traffic at the T- junction connecting the first and second avenue.

A trader at the Agboju Market, Dave Kelechi, said: “That’s what we face every day; everywhere is bad.

We are simply managing the road as it is. They filled the holes but the rain washed everything away.

We will manage it like that, until they come to fix it again.

The road is very busy, especially now that containers and tankers have blocked the Lagos-Badagry Express from Agboju to Alakija.”

Poor planning, substandard materials

Another respondent, identified as Ikechukwu, questioned the quality of materials and work done, saying most the projects were not built to last.

Ikechukwu, a civil engineer, observed that the major problem of road construction exercise in Lagos, is the lack of proper coordination among the relevant ministries.

He said: “The Ministry of Works awards or deploy contractors to fix the road, but to what extent is the Ministry of Environment ensuring that the drainages are not blocked? That is a problem of coordination.

“What I have seen with them is that they build or repair the road, most times with questionable materials.

They also would refuse to maintain it or clear the drainage; allowing flood and dirt to collapse it as soon as possible and then award another millions to fix it again.

“That is the vicious cycle all over the state.

Yet, you don’t see anyone being questioned or arrested for the failed project because the state itself has no standard whatsoever. If they have one let them show it.”

Chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Apapa Branch, Dr. Ombugadu Garba, said apart from the quality, there are other factors that contribute to road failure.

Garba said if the road is not properly designed, “no matter how solid the road is, it will fail.”

He said: “Properly designed in the sense that you look at the drainage system; is the road properly designed such that water can easily run off after the rain?

He said most of these roads are done with asphalt, but asphalt and water are not friends.

Besides, in designing the road, there is need to look at the traffic volume and the axial load of every truck that passes by.

“There are areas where you have heavy trucks passing through amid gridlock.

Such kind of roads, if the design doesn’t consider that volume of transit vis-à-vis the axial load, the loads of plying trucks will fail such roads easily.

“But importantly, the issue of quality of roads is another challenge. Every road depends on the terrain.

There are terrains that ordinary constructions can stand the test of time but there are some terrains where you need to do much more work, if not, such road will fail especially like the water log and muddy areas.

The road designs are different. Oftentimes, you see that the surface thickness aspects are not considered and that is the challenge.

“Again, no matter how you design a road, if you don’t have competent personnel that would transfer that design into reality then you are bound to have problem.

Such a road would not stand the test of time.

No matter how competent the personnel are, if the quality of the material is not up to standard, then such road will fail.

“Every day, we tell government to give the road construction and rehabilitation to people that have what it takes to construct the road, but oftentimes, people that are given these contracts don’t know much about construction and they will always want to maximise profit.

As a result, we have these challenges, constructing a road within six months, it’s gone,” Garba said.

Associate Professor of Geology, Ajibola Meshida, said soil stabiliser is a necessary requirement in road construction and repairs, if they are to stand the test of time.

Meshida said: “All my researches, spanning over 40 years, have been on soil stabiliser.

My invention 10 years ago was to produce a soil stabiliser that will be added to our soil surface.

“When you use the stabiliser and compact it with the soil and you put your bitumen on top of it, that road will stay and would not be washed away especially when you construct the type of drainage that the structural or civil engineer has designed for such road.”

Meshida, a lecturer at the Afe Babalola University, said government knows about the solution but had been unresponsive despite several engagements with them.

“They would say if the roads are good, they will have nothing to eat and would probably take away the job of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).”