Residents lament bad roads, insecurity in FESTAC Town
Raise the alarm to imminent gas pipeline explosion
For residents of FESTAC Town in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, thuggery, bad roads, indiscriminate parking of container-laden trucks, among other vices, have become a daily phenomenon.
According to residents, the once peaceful and beautiful FESTAC has become a den for suspected thugs who allegedly extort, rob and engage in other nefarious activities.
In ‘Festival town,’ cars are parked on gas pipeline, there are illegal holding bays for containers, unapproved mini markets and kiosks are erected on the walkways.
Some residents warned that there could be an imminent gas pipeline explosion if measures are not taken to address the situation. Suspected miscreants are said to have turned the gas pipeline to parking lots for workers in Apapa, who leave their cars to board ferry to their various destinations in a bid to avoid the Apapa gridlock.
When The Guardian went around FESTAC Town, many of the roads were in their worst states, with indiscriminate parking of trucks on the roads.
Also, the Mile 2 Bridge has become an illegal terminal for container, which could lead to collapse if the activities continue. According to a source that pleaded anonymity, “The boats convey containers through the Mile 2 Bridge river and then crash the bridge underneath because the head room of the bridge is low and it might destroy the expansion joint. They go to their illegal container terminal by the FESTAC link bridge through the Mile 2 Bridge heading to Badagry.
“Also, the pressure of the cars on the gas pipeline poses imminent danger. The pressure being impacted on the gas pipelinecould cause explosion, and when it explodes, all the buildings here will be raze down.
“These buildings are very old and not strong again. The roofs are falling off. The owners have been informed of the dangers lurking, but the local council is encouraging cars owners by not chasing them away from there. They have been doing that over a year because there is a jetty there and the boat operators come there to pick people from here to Apapa and other riverine areas.
“That is one looming danger. You can imagine a repeat of the Abule Ado gas explosion or the one that happened in Ipaja area. You can imagine the number of people that will die. The environment is toxic. Hoodlums are collecting money from containers and trucks to park in FESTAC as their holding bay, thereby spoiling the roads and causing traffic.”
The source said the invasion and illegal operations by hoodlums have increased the rate of armed robbery in the neighbourhood. A resident, Jude Uzor, said due to the deplorable state of the roads, he no longer drives to avoid wear and tear, as he uses public transportation.
“Because of the deplorable situation of roads, I don’t drive to office again. I use the public transport system because before we can leave FESTAC to Mile 2, it is an issue. It is better for us to use the public transport and take it cool with the traffic situation.
“On our part as residents, we are trying to fix some of the potholes; we are trying to return our parks and get it back,” he said. Another resident, Patient Igwe, said: “It has become so irritating that you drive around the bad roads. There are some roads that are completely gone. If you go to 7th Avenue, it is not accessible. 41 Road caved in recently.
“We have traffic around this side because of the tanker drivers that are now allowed to come into FESTAC.
“The truckers enter at night and break down to cause traffic. The big trucks are destroying the roads. Most of the people who are here are civil servants and we gave birth to our children here. The thugs are from outside. The local government council is trying their best to salvage the situation.”
When contacted, the chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Valentine Braihmo, debunked reports that FESTAC had become an unsafe environment for residents, saying that it was the safest town in the metropolis.
According to him, “Amuwo Odofin is the safest, even when we had issues after the #ENDSARS protest. That was when the Lagos State task force came to assist vehicles at Second Rainbow Bus Stop, the boys were there to secure the area and the army also. There have been no times thugs entered FESTAC, talk less of Mile 2 or Abule Ado.”
On the indiscriminate parking of trucks, Valentine said FESTAC has not become a holding bay for trucks, adding that they come at night to damage the barriers.
He also frowned at the alarm of impending gas explosion, stating that only smaller vehicles are parked on the gas pipeline area. He said: “There is no vehicle parking on any gas pipeline. Lighter vehicles are parking there. They claim that heavy-duty vehicles are parking there and it is a lie. It is only heavy vehicles that can put pressure on the gas pipeline and then have impact. How can a lighter vehicle, a salon car, affect a gas pipeline?”
Meanwhile, the councillor representing Ward K in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Adewunmi Ogunshina, confirmed the spate of thuggery in the town as well as their illicit activities and attacks on private establishments, which was stopped by the residents and the government officials. He attributed the lack of safety in the community to the poor security strategy by the government.
“A lot of security meetings have been held in this local government area and at the end of the day, nothing serious is done. We knew what FESTAC was when we were growing up. Thugs have taken over now.
“Thuggery is the order of the day at Amuwo Odofin. They are the ones that attacked the police station, they came down from FESTAC Link Bridge into FESTAC Town and we made sure they did not destroy private firms as they had planned to do.”
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