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Amuwo-Odofin Industrial Estate: Waterlogged, pothole-infested roads yearn for attention

By Gbenga Salau 
04 December 2022   |   5:54 am
Mr. Sam Fagbola is a senior staff in one of the factories located in Amuwo Odofin Industrial Estate, which is sandwiched between Ijesha and First Rainbow bus stops, along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

Oba Akinyemi Way

Mr. Sam Fagbola is a senior staff in one of the factories located in Amuwo Odofin Industrial Estate, which is sandwiched between Ijesha and First Rainbow bus stops, along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. He owns a car, but he has banished the idea of journeying to work with it because of the crater-like potholes that dot roads within the industrial park.

According to him, in the last seven years, he parks his car at the Jakande Housing Estate, Mile 2, which is close to the industrial estate, or within the residential section of the Coker area opposite the industrial zone.
Before doing that, he had spent a fortune on maintaining the vehicle weekly. According to him, the vehicle routinely breaks down after navigating through the dirty, marshy, waterlogged, and dilapidated roads within the manufacturing cluster.
A distraught Fagbola lamented that wading through large potholes on the roads constitutes a pain in the neck for management and staff of organisations within the zone because it inflicts serious body pains as well as damage to their vehicles, as all the roads within the industrial estate are dilapidated, with many impassable for even trucks during rainy season.

Many motorists, except those driving SUVs and trucks, according to Fagbola, get by without getting stuck in one of the craters dotting roads within the industrial district.
This is why some of the companies in the industrial estate have either downsized, or relocated in the past five years. It was revealed that not less than 12 companies have moved out of the area as a result of the deplorable state of the roads, while some others simply moved their administrative activities to new locations.
Speaking on the deplorable state of roads within the manufacturing district, the Vice President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Zone, Chief John Aluya, said that due to the wrecked state of the roads, many clients of manufacturing organisations within the industrial estate now prefer to patronise their competitors.

He said this is due to the hours spent connecting, or moving out of the industrial estate, apart from clients’ trucks often breaking down, or getting damaged.  
He wondered why the government has continued to look away from their plight despite the fact that companies within the industrial estate, especially the manufacturing concerns pay not less than 30 different taxes to the state government.

He lamented that in spite of the different taxes that companies pay, they do not feel the impact of government, adding that many of their competitors in other locations were smiling to the bank at their expense.
Aluya also said that funds that should have been injected into expansion were usually channeled into constant servicing of trucks, operational vehicles, and palliative measures to keep the roads in motorable state. He disclosed that not less than N20m is spent collectively on minor rehabilitation of the roads yearly. Beyond the joint rehabilitation efforts, individual organisations, he said, also try to fix some sections of the roads within their corridors.
According to him, when the challenges became overwhelming, they were forced to reach out to the local and state governments to seek their intervention, but nothing concrete came out of the move. Not wanting to relent, he said, they recently reached out to the lawmaker representing Amuwo-Odofin 1 in the state House of Assembly, Mojisola Ali-Macaulay, for support to get the roads fixed, but still no positive response came of the lobby.

According to him, after the lawmaker failed to give a serious commitment in helping to resolve the crisis, they came up with a proposal to fix the roads through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), though they would toll the road. The lawmaker promised to help push the agenda although it might be difficult for the proposal to scale through because it is a novel idea according to her.

Surprisingly, Aluya said even in its horrible state, a lane of Oba Akinyemi Way, a major entry point into the zone has been completely taken over by trucks that convey scrap metal to a steel company. The illegality of using the lane as a parking lot is being done with the support of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), who collect toll from the truck drivers, he alleged.

He pleaded that if the state cannot carry out a major rehabilitation of roads within the industrial park, it should quickly intervene in reconstruction or grading of five roads. He listed them to include Oba Akinyemi Way, Babangida Road, Wasiu Morufu Road, Nosak Road and Crystal Glass Road.

Aluya said: “What really angers us as businessmen is that, when Lagos State started the construction of the flyover at Second Rainbow, (which is a good one) it should have created an alternative route for commuters and motorists. But the major alternative route, which is Oba Akinyemi Way, is not motorable for vehicles, including trucks.

“All that was needed at that time, that is, before they started the construction was some form of palliative, by grading the road, and putting granite to make sure that there are no potholes. We are not advocating that government should reconstruct the road immediately, but if the government cannot, it should make sure that it properly grades the road to make it smooth for vehicles to pass.

“Right now, we could spend hours just to drive into, and out of Oba Akinyemi Way and we are taxpayers; we pay tax every day to Lagos State government. Every month, none of the businesses within this zone that does not remit close to half a million, if not more as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax. The minimum would be about half a million.

“Our concern is the hardship that we are going through. We are losing businesses to our competitors in other locations, because it costs so much to come here. The vehicles that come here that before now charged N2,000 to pick goods, now charge N10,000. When drivers are asked why, they say, ‘the road network is not good’. This is in addition to hours spent before they access the factories.

“Also, the bad nature of the road affects my trucks, I need to spend more money. We are losing business because of these bad road network and we are appealing to the Lagos State government to reconstruct the roads properly. It should carry out palliative work by putting granite and gravels, and grading the place to make it passable.

“If you come here in the next two to three weeks, you would find out that this junction that is waterlogged would have changed. It will be through the efforts of companies that are operating here. That is what we do every time; we clear the drainage and do palliative works through personal levies. The Lagos State government is not coming to our aid at all. All the roads in Amuwo Odofin industrial area are death traps.”
For Mr. Sabastine Okolie, who works for a pharmaceutical company within the area, the biggest expense his organisation has been grappling with in the last five years is vehicles and trucks maintenance, as the about 200 vehicles being deployed for distribution and marketing often regularly break down due to the bad state of the surrounding roads.

“We that ply the roads know what we are losing. My company has over 200 vehicles that enter here daily and it entails constant repairs; these vehicles breakdown daily. We have also written to the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, and the local government, and both of them directed us to do a survey plan, which we did and gave them the report.

“One of the decisions was to channel the flood water, but of course, they never did anything on that till today. One of the biggest challenges that we have today is the channeling of the water out of this environment, which compounded the dilapidated roads. And we are pleading that the government should please intervene and save our lives. Workers and vehicles fall into gutters daily when coming to work, or going home because once the gutters are filled up, it becomes difficult to distinguish between the walkway and the drainage. It is a big challenge that we have here.”

Also commenting, the Chief Security Officer of one of the companies within the industrial zone, Mr. Olajide Alade said that because the roads usually get flooded even during minor downpours, trucks often fall into the gutters because the drainage lines have been covered by rainwater. He said that in the past two weeks, not less than three trucks have fallen into the drainage and in the process damaging electricity poles and cables, because the drivers found it difficult meandering through the difficult terrain, which the roads when flooded.

Another stakeholder within the industrial estate, Mr. George Friday, said that companies and industries operating within the manufacturing cluster also contribute to the economy and the development of the state.

“From the humanitarian point of view, there are roads within this area that link other neighbourhoods. The government should come to our rescue.”

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, was contacted via phone, but he did not pick his calls neither did he call back. Efforts to get the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, to speak too were not successful.

The ministry, through an officer that pleaded anonymity, said the state government has a lot of road projects it is handling aimed at facilitating easy movement and connectivity within the city, so it cannot immediately take on the reconstruction of roads within the industrial estate.
It, however, said it was ready to enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with the executive of the industrial hub to reconstruct the dilapidated roads for tax rebates or holidays to recover their spending on the reconstruction of the roads.