Concerns mount as CDAs continue closure of street gates in Lagos
There are growing concerns over the closure of street gates by Community Development Associations (CDAs) in parts of the Lagos metropolis.
In many cases, lives have been lost because rescuers are denied access to streets even in emergency situations because the gates are locked.
Also, motorists intending to avoid perennial traffic on Lagos roads are denied access to alternative routes through nearby streets because the streets are gated.
Although security reasons have been adduced for gates and their closures, many residents believe that valuable times are lost especially during emergencies to get custodians of the gate keys to unlock them at night.
A resident at Ire-Akari estate, Isolo, Monday Ebogu, lamented how he almost lost his wife when she was in labour because the street at Okeho Street, Isolo was locked and he could not easily reach out to the CDA leaders, who were reluctant to come out with the key.
According to him, it was about 1:00 a.m. on that fateful day and his wife was in labour and he decided to take her to the nearby Isolo General Hospital for attention.
Ebogu said when he reached the gate, calls were put through to the custodian of the key, who first wasted about 30 minutes to pick his calls, and another 15 minutes to interrogate him.
“ I tried other streets which were also locked and we spent about an hour before the gate was finally opened. In a medical situation one hour means a lot and we thank God that we did not stay any longer, it would have been a different story,” he said.
Ebogu is not alone. A staff member of a publishing house in Isolo also shared his ugly experience on his way home from the office around 9:00 p.m.
He told The Guardian that he took Ire-akari road, to avoid traffic on Mushin Road, Isolo, but could not access Ago road through Godwin Omonua St, because a big gate was mounted on the street.
The worker, who resides around Jakande Estate gate, had to make a detour towards St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Isolo.
The Guardian learnt that the gate is often closed to motorists even during daytime.
Some residents of Ashipa Ayobo have also lamented the closure of some street gates by Community Development Association (CDA) leaders.
A resident at Idera Estate, Mrs. Funke Adeleye said she is partially affected by the closure of the street gate.
She said:” We don’t have a security gate in my street but to go to other streets, you need to check your time, though it is for security purposes it will be better if they can extend the time till 12:00 p.m.”
Another resident at Adaranigbagbo Street, who pleaded anonymity said the gate linking Adaranigbagbo and Ogba-Eja is usually locked at 9:00 p.m., which makes it difficult for residents to come in.
He said: “Coming back from work or to get things at Babatunde Adeyanju Street is usually difficult because CDA leaders at Ogba-Eja have totally locked the gate that links two streets.”
The situation is not different at Orilowo, Ejigbo as most streets in the area are gated.
Motorists, who want to use streets to avoid connecting Ejigbo Road are prevented from doing so because most of them are gated.
Residents said the attitude of residents is at variance with the Lagos State directive that streets should be open so that responders could easily have access to them on time in case of emergency.
According to them, locked gates in several streets are causing inconveniences to residents.
They observed that some gates are deliberately locked just to prevent others from using the roads, thereby worsening traffic situations especially in areas where such roads are meant to serve as alternative link routes.
Lagos State Government had in 2016 and 2020 ordered immediate re-opening of all street gates and barricades between 5:00 a.m. and 12 midnight to ensure free movements in and around Lagos.
The state also warned that gates in defaulting streets would be pulled down.
The government claimed that there have been situations where firefighters and police were prevented from getting to scenes on time due to street gates and barricades as well as instances where rushing patients on emergencies to hospitals were equally frustrated.
But CDA Patron in Ogba-Eja, Alhaja Remi Olanrewaju said the decision to lock street gates is not that of the leader alone but the entire community, adding that the step was taken for security purposes.
Also, CDA Chairman, Lord’s Own Estate Ayobo, Mr. Aje Akinyele said the decision was to secure the life and property of residents.
He explained that the gate is usually closed by 7:00 p.m., not locked for residents.
According to him, by that time you would be asked who you are going to see, but for residents, you are free to go in, while the gate is locked by 12:00a.m. and opened at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
He said: The rise in insecurity over the years has mandated us to think out ways of helping ourselves. Though the government is doing its best, we at the grassroots also need to join hands with the government and ensure the security of the life and property of our people.
“So, you notice practically every street in this area has a security gate so that we can control who is coming in and who’s going out.”
On the issue of emergency within the estate, if there is an urgency to go out at early hours, the chairman said guards are always at alert to attend to residents coming in when the gate has been closed and not locked.
“Everybody in the estate has the phone number of security personnel. So if there is an emergency in your house, that’s like 2:00 a.m, the first thing to do, while you are bringing the person out is to call the security and inform him that you have an emergency. When you come to the gate, it doesn’t really take two seconds to open the gate. If you are going out, they will see your headlights from afar, you won’t be asked questions before they open the gate,” he added.
Similarly, the CDA Chairman of Isokan, Fawole Kazeem claimed the gate at Akanji Odutolu Street, Oshodi, has remained shut despite the government’s order because of security reasons.
Kazeem, who is also the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Community Development Committee (CDC), Oshodi-Isolo council insisted that the leaders are not interested in locking the gate, but the safety of residents is of utmost importance.
“We intend to open the gate by 7:00 a.m. and close it at7:00p.m., but we are currently working on it after it was pulled down by the construction firm working on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway,” he said.
But the Lagos State Police Command has blamed gated streets across the state for reasons the police is not attending to distress calls on time.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Adekunle Ajisebutu, told The Guardian, recently that the command has challenges responding to distress calls because of gated streets.
He said: “I must say that we have challenges responding to distress calls. We are all aware of the construction works going on in various parts of the state and this construction work causes gridlock such that it becomes difficult for police patrol teams to manoeuvre some of the routes and also, there are some estates and streets that have gates. But we will continue to work on our response time and make adequate adjustments.”