Agbara-Badagry-Seme road still a ‘national embarrassment’
• Raji Fashola Failed Us On This Road – Residents
The Agbara-Badagry-Seme Expressway is a major road that connects Nigeria to countries within West Africa. It is the reason the route is regarded as the “Gateway to the West Coast.”
For many tourists and visitors entering the country, the road, no doubt, provides the first impression and also helps to shape their perception of Nigerians as a people, and Nigeria as a country.
Because of the high volume of human traffic on the road occasioned by huge trading activities between Nigeria and her neighbours, there is also attendant high vehicular traffic on the road.
With Nigeria being West Africa’s economic hub, the road serves as a major route for the transportation of persons, goods, and services. With this, many stakeholders and residents are of the view that the road should be in top form and give a positive image of the country. But this is not the case.
In July 2020, the lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency II, in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Setonji David, described the road as a “national embarrassment,” while lamenting its deplorable condition.
Setonji, at a press conference alongside some concerned residents, then lamented that the people of Badagry had been cut off from civilisation due to the bad state of the road, which he also said constitutes a death trap.
“Driving on Badagry road is like travelling in a war zone; the rain has even worsened the situation. The state of the road is now terrible. Another problem that we have on the road is that of extortion by security agents.
“They are even making life worse for our people. You’ll see a security checkpoint after every kilometre. There are cases of people having health emergencies and due to the state of the road, the vehicle would break down and the patient would die…Nobody wants to come to Badagry to do business or tourism anymore and things are very expensive in the area now.
“To bring goods from Lagos metropolis to Badagry costs a lot of money and this makes life difficult for our people. You can only imagine what our people are going through now,” the lawmaker stated, and appealed to the lawmaker appealed to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, to urgently fix the highway to save the country from further embarrassment.
Earlier on, the Lagos State government took responsibility for the Iganmu–Okokomaiko section of the highway, while the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) handled the Okokomaiko–Agbara axis of the road.
The Federal Government in 2018, awarded the reconstruction of the 46km Agbara–Seme section of the Badagry Expressway to CGC Nigeria Limited which had abandoned the project.
In March 2022, the former Director of Federal Highways in South West, Mr. Adedamola Kuti, said the N15bn provided through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited Tax Credit scheme had expedited works on the expressway, adding that it would take the completion rate to 80 per cent within one year.
Kuti disclosed while on an inspection tour of the third section of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway project, spanning from Agbara to the Seme border, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Works.
He explained that various stretches of the road totaling about 17 kilometres had been completed on the Badagry-bound lane and that plans were afoot to speed up construction works.
“So far, the NNPC funds have brought in a lot of relief to this job. We have been able to pay some of the outstanding bills for certified works that have been done. So, we have our certificate number four, five has been paid up by the NNPC.
“That is why you are seeing this tremendous progress that is ongoing on this road. The NNPC funding for this job is just about N15bn, but we have been assured that the government will not stop funding,” he said.
Kuti’s visit was when the project was about 25 per cent completed. But when The Guardian visited the road last Thursday, matters still lay headlong and the level of completion less than 50 per cent.
Some stakeholders and residents of the state are quick to lash out at the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who has been in office for the better part of eight years for not deeming it fit to fit the road. Fashola is a former governor of Lagos State.
Presently, from Agbara to Seme border is in a horrible state, although there is an ongoing effort by the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Works and Housing to make motorists and commuters have pleasant experienceS.
From Agbara Bridge to a short distance from Odoffa Junction, vehicles heading to Badagry encounter tough times because of varied sizes of potholes and craters.
Also from Odoffa Junction to Ibiye, all the vehicles, inward and outward Badagry ride on the same lane that is worse off, as the inward Badagry section of the road is being reconstructed.
From Ibiye to around Nigeria French Village School, the lane, inward Badagry, which was reconstructed is used by all vehicles heading into and coming out of Badagry.
The other lane is in a very terrible state. However, the drainage of that section of the road has been completed, but the road is horrible, the reason that vehicles do not ply them, except those using it to connect their streets.
From Badagry Roundabout to Seme border, the story is not better, whether inward or outward. The bad portions of the road and the multiple checkpoints manned by security men serve as break-stoppers for vehicles.
A resident of Badagry, Comrade Sewanu Micheal, is pained that despite the international significance of the road, it has remained a “national embarrassment, and cannot be fixed since it expired in 1996, after being constructed by then Military Head of Government, General Yakubu Gowon.
“Drastic measures need to be put in place to rebrand the country’s image going forward. In my opinion, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola did not focus on the South West for the execution of capital projects; he was only there to serve the interest of his master – the president, only.
“He gave ample attention to roads in the North and some parts of the East, but little or no attention to the only passage leading to his acclaimed motherland, Apa Kingdom. The entire stretch of that road is an abuse of our common existence. In his past eight years in office, he visited the site twice, which is towards the end of his tenure. As governor of Lagos State, he gave the road a facelift, but did otherwise as minister.”
Michael stated that the little stretch of the road that has been covered from Ibiye down to the Low-cost Bus Stop has relieved users since the completion of those areas.
“Every worker, businessmen, and women, including traders that are moving towards the Badagry area and those exiting to the mainland parts of Lagos State face the daily challenge of wasted man-hours at those uncompleted areas of Badagry Expressway. The waterway boat operators seem to be the only alternative to those who live in Badagry and work on Lagos Island, while those who have a phobia for water have no choice, but to stay in the long traffic for most of their days.”
Speaking on the section of the road that has been completed, that is Ibiye to Bereko section, Michael, however, stated that the road comes with some pain. He said: “The rate of accidents and deaths resulting daily on that road, which is the only single lane plied by both arriving and departing vehicles is so alarming. Caution signage and speed limiting boards are not visible and are not provided to caution first-time and old users of the road.
“Bus stop signs and zebra crossings are not in place. Overhead bridges meant for pedestrians are not completed despite being well-captured in the road design.
For John Chukwuyem, a bus driver: “In addition to the bad and attendant traffic is the multiple checkpoints, where security officers fleece motorists. Even though things are getting a little bit better in the completed sections, it would be good that the whole road is completed and not abandoned,” Chukwuyem stated.
Another resident, Mr. Oyewole Olusegun Adebukola, stated that the road has made visiting Lagos a nightmare for many residents living around Badagry.
“The road became very dangerous with the reckless manner that smugglers that ply the route drive at breakneck speed. Those that leave home early are really at risk on this road because of the activities of these outlaws.
“Our men in black have now turned that road to where they milk people of their hard-earned money. It is either you play ball with them, or they delay you for ages or even take you to their stations. They are just too many on that road.
Another road user, Dr. Cecilia Adeyemi, deplore the terrible state of the road saying: “I have even lost hope of bringing my vehicle back home because at Odoffa Junction, Agbara, there is constant traffic jam there. Trailers and smaller vehicles are always locked together at that point. The other day, as one was trying to navigate his way, others were equally apprehensive because of the presence of container-bearing trucks.
“For over two hours, we were stuck in one spot, and those coming from Badagry equally stood still, the same way that those heading to Lagos were rooted to one spot. This happened in the Agbara area.
“I do not know what is wrong with the contractors, who left the site in October last year, only for them to resume around March when the rain was about to start, and they have now heaped sands on the road, leaving narrow paths for vehicles to ply. So, it became an issue and once it rains, the ground would be slippery because of the laterite that they poured on it, and the back-and-forth movement of the heavy-duty trucks that have left the soggy, with their contents sometimes falling, or spilling over. Indeed, it is a very serious problem that we are facing in this flank,” she concluded.