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Lagos motor parks: Where stench, filth reign

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Papa Ajao Motor Park, Lagos


The acrid smell of urine pervaded the air. It was sickening. Yet the bus conductor, who seemed nonchalant, continued to yell on top of his voice: Ibadan, Abeokuta, and Ilorin…
 
It was obvious that all that mattered to him was to attract as much as passengers as he could to patronise the buses. Commuters and passers-by, whose nostrils were harassed and violated by the stench oozing from the filthy environment, hurried through the motor park.
 
While some of those troubled citizens covered their noses and mouths with handkerchiefs in a bid to ward off further onslaught of the offensive odour and putrefying environment, others simply shook their heads in astonishment.

However, the situation was not peculiar to this particular motor park located in Ojota. Investigation by The Guardian showed that similar scenarios obtain in many other motor parks in Lagos State, the centre of excellence.

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Descent To Chaos
LAGOS State government has been assuring residents of his determination to transform the state into a mega city. But, the situation of most motor parks in the state still manifest a descent into chaos, because they lack such basic amenities such as functional public toilet and refuse bins.
   
Seeing commercial drivers and commuters urinating beside parked vehicles or at hidden corners around the parks is a common sight at different parts of Lagos, thus flaring the offensive stench that describe them.
 
In some instances however, though provisions were made for mobile toilets, perhaps the unwillingness of the public to pay stipulated fees for services and poor enforcement make the ugly practices to continue.
 
Add to that is the lack of aesthetic finishing around the parks which sustains the poor hygiene and ugly atmosphere around them. Some commentators observed that much difference would have been made if the amount of money being generated daily at the parks, part of which goes into government coffers, are ploughed into maintenance and construction of modern facilities.
 
The dilapidated state of almost all motor parks in the state has become a source of concern to residents who complain that the parks are not only disorganised, dirty and dusty, but also not befitting the state as the commercial hub of Africa.

Complaints Galore
When The Guardian visited Yaba, Oshodi, Ikorodu, Iyana Isolo, Fatai Atere, and Mushin motor parks, it was discovered that not only were the garages littered with refuse, the roads leading into the parks were also in a terrible state of disrepair. And as usual, many of the parks lacked conveniences for commuters.
 
Some commuters, who expressed dissatisfaction over the development, lamented that despite the high amount of money they pay as fares, there has not been any improvement in the handling of the parks over the years.
 
Mrs. Florence Ituah, a passenger on her way to Ibadan from Oshodi Park, lamented the absence of better parks in the state, saying she regretted going there to board a bus.

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“If I had an alternative, I would have boarded a vehicle elsewhere, because the environment here is not conducive at all. I am surprised that the biggest motor terminal in the state has been left in this poor condition. What happens to the taxes the government collects here,” she queried.
 
Similarly, Mr. Ayodele Ashafa, who was in a bus going to Akure said: “I have been coming to this park for years now, and I don’t really like the way it is. We plead with government to rebuild the park into a modern one, where the facilities will be decent and both passengers and transporters will enjoy and feel comfortable.”
 
Also at Ibadan Park in Ikorodu, although the toilet facility had been under lock and key for over a year, the park was quite neat, despite the fact that many vehicles were competing for the very small space.
 
The organising leader at Iso Ibadan, Mr. Lagata said: “We carry passengers going to Ilorin, Ibadan, Osogbo, Ife, and Ado in this park. We had a toilet, but it is not functional, as the person that used to clean it passed away in 2019. Since then, we have been directing passengers to a public toilet, but they have to pay.
 
“Aside this, we also have other challenges, which include the bad roads that are really affecting us. Presently, we provide security in the park, but we want government to assist us in this regard. We also want government to repair the road that leads to Shagamu, because our customers are complaining. We need a bigger garage, as you can see that this place is too small for the number of routes we ply daily.”   
 
At Papa Ajao Motor Park, the scene that greeted the eyes was messy, as papers littered everywhere. The refuse bins were uncovered and the refuse dump site was an eyesore.
 
The Guardian learnt that the park has two mobile toilets and commuters are expected to pay N100 before they can access the facility. Mr. Nuru, a driver at the park, said: “We collect a token of N100 from anybody who wants to use the toilet, and the money is used for the maintenance of the toilet. We pay the person who washes the toilet with the money collected. As you can see, the mobile toilet is not enough. So, we won’t mind if government can help to build a good toilet and make our environment conducive for us and the commuters.”
 
At Moshood Abiola Motor Park in Iyana-Isolo, the story was quite different. Not only was there a good toilet, it was also well managed by the garage operators.
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“As you can see, we have a well-built toilet here,” one of the drivers told The Guardian, adding, “It was built for us by the former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola. However, it is not for free, as we pay a certain amount to the government. We maintain it on our own. Commuters and passengers use it for free.”
 
At the Mushin Motor Park at Sadiku Street, opposite Access Bank for intra-city transportation, a commuter, Abiodun Adebayo, lamented the absence of toilet facilities at public garages in the state, saying: “It has become increasingly worrisome, as even those garages that had toilets in the past now seem unnecessary.
 
“Aside the lack of toilet, in most cases, when other things need attention, they just ignore them. For instance, hoodlums attacked this park some years ago, and they damaged a lot of things. But since then, there has been no plan to fix the place.
 
“Last week, I was really pressed and had to plead with some men to allow me use the bush at the back of their garage, due to the unavailability of toilet. But they hurled insults at me, even after begging them with N500, as I was really pressed. It took the intervention of a woman (trader), who was present at the scene that allowed me use her toilet.”
 
Another commuter, Damilola Adegbenro said: “The lack of toilet is not the issue, rather, how it is managed and where it is situated. Even where there are toilets, some people still urinate and defecate beside parked vehicles, leaving everywhere smelly. This is common in Oshodi and some other garages.”

When The Guardian visited the popular Lawanson to Ijesha Motor Park in Yaba, it was discovered that there was no public toilet for commuters. The chairman of the park, Mr. Ahmed, explained that the reason for the lack of toilet was due to the location of the garage, which is by the roadside.

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“Our garage is by the side of the road,” he said. “So, most of our drivers use fee-paying toilets. Our passengers who are pressed and request for it are also well served. If our motor park had been in the garage, there could have been a public toilet. This challenge is rampant in almost all motor parks in Lagos. If government can look into the matter and assist us, it would stop the terrible stench in motor parks.”

A driver plying Idi Araba to Ojuelegba said: “Our garage is by the roadside. Most times, our passengers don’t ask for public toilets, as they somehow find ways to take care of themselves in that regard. It would be a good idea, if government could look into the problem. Most of us cross to the other side of the road to ease ourselves or look for any available space around to use.”Toluwalashe Ogunleye, a resident of Idi Araba wondered why most parks don’t have good toilets.

“ I wonder where the money goes and what it is used for,” he said. “Even if government is not ready to provide public toilets in parks, I think chairmen of motor parks should also look into the matter and make provision for toilet facilities.”

A commuter, Mr. Segun, said: “Most times, I use public toilet and pay. But when I am going on a long distance journey, I take some precautionary measures, which include not eating or drinking before leaving the house, to avoid embarrassment. Even if government provide public toilets in motor parks, is there any assurance that it will be clean at all times?”

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