Lagos: Sunmonu Giwa street residents bemoan abandonment by government
Sunmonu Giwa, a popular Street in Oke-Odo, in Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State, is only a shouting distance from the council’s secretariat, and just a stone throw to the popular Ile-Epo Market on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
But while it appears to be so close to the “seat of government” at the council level, it is very far from development. The street, from the Pipeline Bus Stop end, is in a complete state of disrepair, disfigured and unattractive.
Interestingly, the street, which has a gullied landscape is a link road that easily connects motorists from Agbele, Abule-Egba, Aboru, and others to the main express road, which serves as an escape route whenever there is traffic congestion on the highway.
Visitors to the area are sure going to have a hard time believing that the street is part of Lagos State, due to the high level of neglect, and the total abandonment that the area has suffered over the years.
The Guardian learnt that for over 20 years no vehicle has passed through the street, as the gullies and craters created by perennial erosion have damaged the road beyond what communal efforts by the residents could address.
While car owners that reside on the street now park their vehicles hundreds of meters away from their residents, children and the aged always find it an arduous task meandering their way to and from home. It was gathered that a landlord not long ago died as a result of spinal cord injury he sustained after falling on the road a few years ago.
What has even ensured that they still have what looks like a street in place is the “stoppers” constructed across the road by residents, which minimises the impact of erosion. Without these stoppers, the road would have become completely impassable for pedestrians and residents, who are currently panicking as the rainy season approaches.
Chairman of the Community Development Association (CDA) of the area, Alhaji Idowu Animashaun, said attempts by landlords to make the road motorable has come to naught despite the huge investment that they have made.
Insisting that the scope of work required to put the road in order was beyond their powers, Animashaun, who is also a landlord on the street said: “It was in the 1990s that vehicles last passed through this road. Even though the upper side of the road is still manageable, the extreme that links the pipeline side is in terrible shape and it has been like that for over 20 years. Almost all the rents that we charge tenants are invested on this road. If not for communal efforts, nobody would have been able to pass through this road. Over N100, 000 was spent on the construction of the stoppers, yet the road is still in this condition.
“The CDA as a body has tried, but we are where we are now because there has not been any assistance from the government. Economically, the street is backward; most of our tenants have been running away while intending ones make an about-turn immediately they see the state of the road. In case of any emergency, there is no road to drive through. This area has been marginalised for long and we have been shouting for over 25 years, but no administration has heard our voices.”
Vice President of Sunmonu Giwa Youth Development Association, Raimi Ahmed Olasunkanmi, lamented that the government has neglected the area for so long.He said: “The road was not as bad as this, but since Aliratu Badejo, Ope-Agbe and other streets were constructed, rainwater from the repaired streets now find their way, or were diverted here. And that is the genesis of the problem we are facing on this road.
“It is only ahead of elections that government officials come here to talk to us and after that, we will not see them again. You have only managed to make your way up to this point on our street simply because we are in the dry season. During the rainy season, our people go through a major challenge making their way to and from their houses.
“We even heard sometime ago that the government claimed to have rehabilitated the road. This is not true. The truth is that for nearly 40 years we have not felt the government’s presence here.”
As the rainy season approaches, both Animashaun and Olasunkanmi are appealing to the state government to come to their aid.
“The vote from our street is always massive during elections, yet our road is in this condition. We need them now to assist us,” Animashaun said.Olasunkanmi added: “We need government’s presence now. Whatever the government can do to ameliorate our plight, this is the time to show. The issue of security is also a major challenge in our area. All these streetlights were done through self-help. We need to quickly reconstruct the road. “We are begging the government to make this area to feel its impact and enjoy the dividends of democracy like other areas.”