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Lagos Residents Decry Street Barricades



AS part of efforts to secure themselves and their property, Lagosians in the early 2000s, resorted to constructing street gates and setting up barricades in their streets to ward off criminals and possibly unwanted guests that have nothing to do in their areas.  

  These barricades, though well intended, soon began to constitute obstructions to traffic, especially in areas, where such street gates or barricades are on roads meant to serve as thoroughfares or alternative link routes. Apart from the bottlenecks they created, they became hurdles that the police, fire engines and vehicles on emergency have to scale when carrying out their legitimate duties.

   Observing the effects of these structures on the people, the economy of the state, lives and property, Lagos State Government then ordered that all gates or barricades leading to major roads in the state be opened from 5. 30a.m to 12midnight daily, to allow for free flow of vehicular movement, reduce traffic congestion and remove the difficulties ambulances and individuals faced taking sick people or pregnant women to hospital at night. 

   This directive was a welcomed one, as it saved motorists and commuters useful man-hours and unnecessary stress often suffered on the road.

  However, as the years rolled by, the directives seem to be abandoned, as street gates are making a come back, even on streets that never had them before. While some communities fortify their gates with all manners of objects, others have constructed theirs in such a way that they could only allow cars and not even buses to pass through. 

  Speaking to The Guardian on the benefits of the gates, Alhaji Hakeem, a landlord, in Peace Estate, Gbagada, said the gate is the only means with which the landlords, to a large extent, provide security for themselves and their tenants. 

  “It enables us to know who and who is coming into our community, slow them down for proper searching and identification, and possibly thwart their intentions if they are criminals.” 

  Buttressing this point, a resident, who pleaded anonymity, revealed that the estate has not recorded any incident of armed robbery attack since she moved there with her husband four years ago. She added that the security men recognise practically all the residents and their vehicles, which makes it easy for them to identify any visitor and nip any crime in the bud. They ensure that everyone coming into or going out of the estate is thoroughly checked at the gate.

   Expressing his disaffection at the way most streets in the state now parade gates, Samuel Olarewaju, a resident in one of the streets in Gbagada, said, “the gates and barricades are hindrances to free movement of people and vehicles, especially at night, when some people come back very late from work. 

  “Can you believe that in my area, there are times we return late and tired from work with heavy loads and because the gate-keepers have been instructed to lock the gates at a certain time of the day, they would not allow any vehicle other than the community’s registered one to come in. This forces residents to carry their loads and walk down the long street to their houses.”

   He, therefore, called on the state government to revisit its directives on the gates and barricades, with the aim of curtailing the excesses of some landlords or community associations that have turned themselves into another government.

   Commenting on the issue, Mrs. Ayinke, a trader in one of the streets observed that some of the gates are constructed to prevent heavy-duty trucks from entering some streets. She explained that even the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) truck cannot pass through some of the gates because of the way they are constructed. She appealed to government and relevant agencies to look into the issue and pull some of the barricades down to allow for easy access of vehicles, including trucks.

 Putting the blame of barricading streets on the failure of government to provide adequate security for the people, Akintade, a tenant in Surulere, told The Guardian that government is not serious at implementing its directives because it lacks the wherewithal to effectively tackle the problem of insecurity in the city and as such sees the barricades as individuals’ and groups’ efforts at fighting the menace by themselves.

 “Take it or leave it, government sees it as a form of community policing and until the people begin to see actual improvement in security, they would not remove the barricades and gates to make the streets open and accessible,” he noted.

  Efforts to make the various council chairmen speak on this issue proved abortive. Not even the Lagos State Commissioner for Information could supply The Guardian with needed information. But councils’ officials speaking under anonymity said the issue is a closed case, especially as the state government has already given its directives.

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