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Danger as pedestrians abandon airport bridges, prefer crossing highway

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Pedestrians dashing across the road without using the bridge

When the pedestrian bridges on the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road were constructed, many were excited and hopeful that, not only would they help in preventing road crashes, but would also guarantee the safety of both motorists and pedestrians. Indeed, the general idea was that pedestrians would gladly embrace the new development, as it would help in saving the time lost waiting for the road to clear before crossing.

Contrary to this expectation, however, many pedestrians still prefer dashing across the ever-busy highway, despite the risk this portends. They have completely abandoned the newly constructed bridges, and not even the surface beauty and neatness of the bridges appear strong enough to persuade them to do otherwise.

A walk down the bridges showed that they are still as good as when they were first constructed. On both sides are streetlights that are switched on at night for security purposes. However, probably due to lack of constant use, The Guardian observed that some persons have converted the space into their bedroom, as they were seen sleeping or taking a nap.

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Some mad people have also taken over parts of the bridges, where they store their luggage, as well as sleep. All this gives the bridges an untidy ambience.

When some pedestrians were asked why they preferred crossing the highway to using the footbridges, their responses were as diverse as they were revealing.

Kenneth Adeola was accosted as he was about to cross the expressway. He explained that he usually crosses the highway, whenever he is in a hurry or under pressure to make an appointment.

Miscreants sleeping on the bridge. PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

Another pedestrian, Jones Agwu, who had actually crossed the road, said people normally dash across out of impatience. “As human beings, you know we tend to prefer shortcuts. Personally, I think that is mainly the reason many people, including myself, cross the highway,” he said.

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Mrs. Adekoya Ogundele, a resident in a nearby street, said she actually crossed the road on this particular occasion due to tiredness. She said: “Today, I have been trekking all day and I’m coming from a far place. Sincerely, if I use the pedestrian bridge, I know my blood pressure will likely rise, which is what I’m guarding against. However, I do make use of the pedestrian bridge, whenever I have the strength.”

Another woman, Mrs. Vivian Kunle, a businesswoman in the area, was caught on the verge of crossing the highway. She explained that she did so, due to her old age.

“As you can see, I am old and my legs are weak. It is difficult for me to use the pedestrian bridge. If I try to climb the bridge, to come down will be difficult, as the whole of my legs will be shaking. That is why I don’t use the pedestrian bridge.”

A bus operator at NAHCO, David Bakare, wondered why people choose to ignore these facilities and take such high risk, despite the fact that the government spent millions of naira in constructing them for their use and safety.

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He said: “It pains me particularly to see school children and women with babies on their backs and shoulders crossing the highway. In the last two weeks, three people have died while crossing this road. Two of them were students, which is terrible. We need enforcement to stop such people from killing themselves.”

Buttressing Bakare’s point, Adebisi Kehinde, Assistant Secretary General, Airport Limousine Bus Operators at NAHCO, explained that people cross the highway because there is no enforcement to compel people to use the bridge.

“I would suggest that government put in place an enforcement agency or taskforce to prevent people from crossing the highway, thereby stopping them from being killed on the highway by moving vehicles on daily basis,” he said.

He disclosed that there is a gate at Agip Bus Stop along the road, which is usually opened by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). He said the entrance gives miscreants the opportunity to enter under the bridge and litter the place.

In his view, if FANN could close the gate permanently, it would go a long way in ensuring orderliness on Airport Road.

He said: “We have been making personal efforts to educate people on the importance of using the pedestrian bridges. This is because many people on the route are our passengers. However, I think people always need enforcement to do the right thing.”

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