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Lagosians shun pedestrian bridges as govt relaxes enforcement

By Adedamola Saka and Chidera Igbokwe
19 August 2022   |   4:04 am
Pedestrian bridges as life-savers are considered critical infrastructure in modern day road construction, especially in densely populated settlements like Lagos, with about 20 million people.

Pedestrians taking quick dash at Cele Bus Stop. yesterday PHOTO: CHIDERA IGBOKWE

Pedestrian bridges as life-savers are considered critical infrastructure in modern day road construction, especially in densely populated settlements like Lagos, with about 20 million people.

Where they are not available, residents crave for them, as is the case at Toyota Bus Stop, on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, where a number of lives have been lost in attempts to cross the road.

Last week, a trader at Ladipo International Spare parts Market, identified as ‘Uche’, was crushed by a hit and run driver at Toyota Bus stop, when he had to cross the Expressway because there was no pedestrian bridge.

The closet one is located at Five Star Bus Stop, about metres away.

This, ordinarily would suggest that people appreciate the usefulness of pedestrian bridges as life savers where it is available and therefore ought to use them effectively.

However, that is not the case as many residents shun footbridges, but take a dash across busy expressways in the city.

In many cases pedestrian bridges now serve as markets or display stands as well as resting places for destitute persons.

Residents who spoke to The Guardian, linked the abandonment of footbridges to non-enforcement  of their use by government agencies charged with the responsibility.

For instance, the pedestrian bridge at Cele Bus Stop, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, noted for its large pedestrian movement, is rarely used by residents because the usual enforcement by Oshodi –Isolo Local Council officials has stopped.

Before, officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) were always at the Bus Stop to enforce compliance, while defaulters were often arrested and brought to the council area office at Aswani, where they are penalised for the offence.

But that is no longer the case as many pedestrians no longer consider using the footbridge, which is in a deplorable state, now used by mainly beggars and traders.

An elderly woman, Mrs. Helen Ojukwu, seen crossing the expressway right under the footbridge at Cele Bus Stop, said she has a phobia for height.

Ojukwu told The Guardian that she wouldn’t be able to climb such a pedestrian bridge because of her age.

She recalled an incident when she was almost pushed off the bridge by touts, who were collecting sales tax from traders operating on the bridge.

“So, since that incident, I decided to cross the expressway because I consider it more convenient and safe,” she told The Guardian.

Another Ago Okota resident, Gabriella Umeh, narrated how a colleague at her workplace was attacked on the pedestrian bridge by hoodlums in the evening on her way back from office.

She said her colleague was robbed of her bag, phone and some money about 7:00p.m on that fateful day.

Gabriella advised the state government to put in place security measures to protect pedestrians using pedestrian bridges at odd hours. She advised government to partner both state and community security agencies to prevent such incidents.

Another pedestrian at Cele Bus Stop, Ilugbo Amoo, lamented the state of the pedestrian bridge, stressing that both the protective rails are almost gone, which makes it unsafe for use.

According to him, government should ensure that users do not fall off the bridges.

The same is the case at the pedestrian bridge along Airport Road, which was recently commissioned by the Lagos State government. It has been turned to other uses by residents.

Pedestrians, who shun the bridge, complain of its design and height, stressing that many of them have knee and waist challenges.

At Charity Bus Stop pedestrian bridge, Oshodi, a phone accessories trader, Kelvin Odu, said pedestrian bridges have now become marketplaces for small-scale traders who cannot afford to own shops as well as homes to beggars in the state.

Reacting to allegations of non enforcement of compliance by agencies of government bridges, General Manager, Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency, Prince Falade Oyekan, said the agency has not totally abandoned enforcement, stressing that action will soon be noticed.

He said: “We have done a special report concerning this issue, which has been sent to security stakeholders in the state. I believe measures will soon be taken to address the situation.”

Asked what the agency is doing about hoodlums’ attack on pedestrians, he said, necessary measures have been taken, but people just use it as an excuse to cross the expressway because they consider it easier than to use the pedestrian bridge.

Oyekan advised pedestrians to be law abiding by making use of pedestrian bridges, saying it is safer to use the bridges than to cross the road because you don’t know the situation of vehicles on the road.