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The ‘wall’ on Apapa-Oshodi expressway

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The chaos that pervades the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway may have been compounded with the erection of a massive concrete median wall from Cele Bus Stop moving towards Oshodi and beyond. The target (I think), is Ojota via Oworonsoki, according to news reports. The barrier has created a new human problem – a human traffic of pedestrians wanting to scale the “wall” from one side to the other.

The “wall” has been erected when a huge majority of Lagosians residing on both sides of the expressway don’t have private cars, nor is there an effective mass transit system to convey people. Besides, there are very few pedestrian bridges on the stretch of the expressway in question, to facilitate crossing that is unavoidable. Of what purpose is the “wall” one may ask. Were the people considered before taking decision to erect the concrete “wall”?

Since the barrier took position, there is human traffic both on the sides of the highway. Hundreds of thousands of people are observed at every moment queuing and waiting to scale the high median wall at their own risk. It is an eyesore that men, women, children and the elderly struggle, not only to dash across the busy highway, but to scale the high median wall, thereby exposing people to danger.

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Without first providing adequate pedestrian bridges at strategic points where people cross the road, whoever designed that concrete median wall clearly underscored the fact that in Nigeria, the people don’t matter. That is why Nigerians roads are built without pedestrian walkway of bicycle path. Nigerian roads are built solely for four-wheeled vehicles and not even for three-wheeled keke. Lack of care or concern for the masses is the norm. The only consideration is the money to be racked in on the project.

Think of this – if able-bodied people find life difficult and precarious in our warped system, how much more difficult would life be for the disabled, whose plight is never countenanced in the scheme of things? That explains why Nigeria is classified as one of the worst places to be born on earth, not because there are no resources but because the ruling elite mind only themselves and their families and friends.

Infrastructure in Nigeria, unlike in the developed world, are not made with the plight of the weak and disabled in mind. The healthy ones are not cared for and the disabled are forgotten. How, for instance, would a disabled person, on wheelchair, who wants to cross the road to the other side do it when there are no zebra crossings? The psychological trauma is unimaginable for the unfortunate folks.

While the engineers are busy working on this bizarre median wall that now barricades the dual-carriage highway, making crossing from one side of the road impossible for many, ordinary Nigerians are baffled and asking what what the federal authorities handling the construction are out to achieve.

Why erect that kind of barrier, a concrete high wall to divide a road that millions of people cross every day? Of what purpose is the wall considering, especially, the fact that there are very few pedestrian bridges on the stretch of the road and people must cross from one side to the other.

There are children whose schools are located on the other side of the highway whose parents or guardians must, on daily basis, take across the road, how would they cope? How would market women, mothers, maids, and others, whose must cross the road daily to do one thing or the other climb the high barricade? We are confronted with a situation that is hardly seen anywhere in the world.

When, some months ago, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Adedamola Kuti, announced the commencement of reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki-Ojota Expressway, there was joy that the road, which, arguably, experiences one of the worst traffic gridlocks in the country, was going to be rehabilitated.

After the appeals to motorists to comply with traffic regulations at the construction areas, the expectation was that in no distant time, the killer gridlock would be eased off after. But there is little progress on the road so far almost six months after the reconstruction kicked off.

What is conspicuous, to the chagrin of Lagosians is the high concrete wall being superimposed on top of the existing median to make it impassable. This bizarre piece of infrastructure has already caused severed traffic gridlock. People are wondering what would happen when the actual road reconstruction works commence.Around the world, medians are created to divide highways or even incorporate rail or tram lines to facilitate mass transit. Different types of medians are used on dual-carriage ways by different countries in different areas of the country.

There is the divided median strip where shrubs are planted to separate the road. We have this type of median on most of our inter-state highways that have been overgrown with elephant grasses and trees. The grass median is another type, which is not found in Nigeria due to the inability to maintain the grass. In other climes, the grass is manicured to create beauty on the highway.

In some countries, highway median is created with decorative cobblestones that create aesthetics. In some countries, a very wide median strip is created and made into gardens. There are other types of median in serious countries that are created to make the highway beautiful and enchanting.

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Two types of median are common in Nigeria. They are the low concrete divide as found on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the grass median that turns into bush due to neglect. These medians are not known to barricade the road and prevent crossing from one side to the other.

The new concrete high wall being erected on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is novel, awkward piece of infrastructure. It is an eyesore. Foreigners would see this median as weird and may wonder if there are mad people whose movement it is meant to curtail. I have travelled to over 30 countries around the world and over 35 cities; I have never come seen a median that is so high, especially, in a metropolitan city. What I have seen in other climes is wide roads that are well marked with road signs that guide motorists and pedestrians.

Elsewhere, the space occupied by the concrete high wall median would have been used to create light rail line for mass transit. But alas, we have used it to build barricade as if mad people are all over the place that must be barred from crossing the road. What a pity.

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Apapa-Oshodi Expressway
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