Ladipo market and audacity of anarchy
On December 12, 2017, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode visited the area and the traders pleaded for the development of the area. Twelve weeks later, the governor promised to construct a Multi-Storey Car Park and reconstruct part of Ladipo Street, Alhaji Akinwunmi Road and Obagun Avenue. In addition, the governor promised to construct a pedestrian bridge at Toyota Bus Stop, as part of the reconstruction of the International Airport Access road to Oshodi.
So, after due consultations with stakeholders, Lagos State commenced reconstruction works in February 2018. The contractor reconstructed one half of Ladipo Street starting from the front of UBA and Fidelity Banks to just 10 meters before the linkage with the service road on expressway. Also constructed was one half of Akinwunmi road from the junction with Ladipo Street to 10 meters before linkage with Apapa Oshodi Expressway at Five Star Bus Stop. But curiously, the contractor abandoned the site since November 2018. The excavation work on the other half had been completed such that without the required filling, it is lower than the completed parts.
Besides, the uncompleted part of Akinwunmi Road has been turned into a refuse dump (especially at the link to Ladipo Street) while all adjoining streets are not accessible because the junctions stand much higher than the excavated but unfilled half. In the same vein, unsightly stalls have been placed at all these junctions. Incensed by the environmental degradation and the potential health danger of epidemic proportions, the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) threatened to shut down the market. The agency accused the traders of preferring to dump waste indiscriminately on roads, instead of patronising assigned PSP operators. Since February 2019, however, nothing has been done to carry out the warning notice. In the meantime, like air pollution, the plague has spread from the epicentre of Ladipo Street to even the Oshodi Apapa Expressway and Fatai Atere Way.
The ugliness of the present situation is better imagined. It is an eyesore that is a shame to the entire metropolis and a harrowing experience for the direct everyday victims: the traders, the customers and all those who use the area roads. The traders have a litany of woes. With only half of a segment of Ladipo Road available, the trailers delivering wares from the ports are forced to maneuver through the narrow completed segments. From time to time, containers fall off, compounding the perennial traffic jams caused by offloading in the narrow roads especially Ojekunle-Olanibi streets. Those who buy spare parts from the market suffer the agony of the avoidable gridlock.
It is strange enough that the completed halves of Ladipo and Akinwunmi streets were constructed to high engineering standards, with adequate drains into the major world-class channel capable of taking all the floodwaters from the entire neighbourhood. But sadly, this channel has been turned into a refuse dump such that the Ladipo Market side is clogged and not free as is the case across the expressway in Ajao Estate. It is yet another instance of our misusing the ecology of a place.
It is noteworthy that the Lagos State Government had attempted several times to relocate the market. However, we cannot soon forget the relocation of other markets in the past. The Electronics Market in Mile 2 was moved to the present Alaba site and a prospering city sprung up in the erstwhile rural setting. Years ago, the market for rams was moved from Ijora to Mile 12 Ikorodu road and now is at the north landing of Isheri Bridge on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. That ram market had been due for relocation for a long time because the scum it presents is a disgrace to all Nigerians, especially to the government of Ogun State.
The Ladipo traders are well organised under the aegis of Ladipo Main Market Traders Association and the Ladipo Auto Central Executive Committee (LACEC). With a united voice, they have implored the Lagos State Government to complete the reconstruction of the roads. The leadership exercises a definite influence in the politics of the ward. Ladipo market can still accommodate the traders if they are willing to play by the rules. The leadership must do everything to end the indiscipline and lawlessness for which the market operators are justifiably tagged.
We do not know why the contractor left the site in November 2018. The promise to construct a pedestrian bridge must be considered as secondary to completing the road reconstruction. In the intervening period, however, the Dangote Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government to reconstruct the Apapa-Isolo-Oshodi Expressway. Accordingly, there is need for harmonisation of the Dangote project with the on-going construction works by the Lagos State Government. The reconstruction of the Oshodi-Airport Access Road shows what is possible where there is the political will. In a city that is re-branding as an international metropolis, the ghetto of Ladipo area in Toyota Bus stop, part of the arteries to the Airport Road still being reconstructed, is a blight on the country’s image.
Specifically, there is an urgent need for synergy among our three tiers of government. In the enclave, there is a segment of the federal highways from Isolo Road to Toyota Bus stop. Akinwunmi Street, Ojekunle-Olanibi Street, Fatai Atere Way, Palm Avenue and Ladipo Street are state roads. All the streets in the area are the responsibility of the local government. In an organic federalism, the Mushin Local Government should be the pivot of the comprehensive development of the area. Right now, word has it that the presence of the local government is felt only through touts who harass motorists regularly and task-force gangs who show up from time to time to extract money from the traders and motorbike and tricycle riders. Yet potholes, which start as small orange-size circles are left to deteriorate into craters, which no one cares about.
Worldwide, good roads indicate good living. Lack of good roads is the major structural cause of the ghetto condition of Ladipo market and its environs. Therefore, the entire area must be circled for a Marshal Plan development effort. Accordingly, the list of stakeholders must be expanded to involve the industries, commercial houses and NAFDAC. Although the present focus on the traders is understandable, this has resulted in leaving out others affected by the nightmare.
Above all, Lagos State Government must get the contractor back to site immediately. For this urgent assignment, the new governor must make Ladipo area one of his immediate impact projects. Ladipo market area development will also be a legacy of his tenure and a template for urban transformation. The nuisance of this portion in Lagos Megacity cannot be ended soon enough. Certainly, it is a reproach that should not be ignored again!