Lagos Parks, Gardens: Waiting for Sanwo-Olu’s positive touch
Some of the exciting locations families, lovers and fun-seekers in Lagos State visited during the recent Yuletide and during the New Year holiday are the gardens and parks. Fortunately, there are many beautiful government-owned gardens and parks around the state. They come in different shapes, sizes and are not only ideal for relaxation, fresh air and fun, some of them also offer privacy, depending on the site.Though there are also some private gardens and parks in the metropolis, the fees charged in these places make them out of reach of some residents.
In addition to the many alluring beaches that the state equally boasts of, and which used to be the destinations of choice in the past, these gardens and parks now offer an alternative to those that cannot make their way to the beaches and countryside.Many Lagos residents that don’t like going far to have picnic or are averse to the inevitable traffic snarls during the period opted for these spots. Indeed, some of these gardens have become the go-to centres of some Lagosians to eat out and relax.
But how ready are these places?
During ex-Governor Babatunde Fasola’s administration, the parks and gardens used to be in top condition. The lawns were well-manicured, the plants and weed frequently trimmed and watered, with different exotic flowers dotting the landscape. But after exit of the administration, not much attention is being paid to these gardens.A visit to some government-owned parks and gardens revealed that maintenance appears not to be in government’s top list.
For instance, the three public relaxation centres at Gbagada/Oworo areas looked unkempt. Located under the flyover connecting Gbadaga to Oworo, it was obvious the spots are not treated regularly. The plants in these gardens looked dry and not watered for weeks. The general look of the spots showed neglect and that they had not been tended for some time. This explains why the grasses were over grown. Everywhere looked very unkempt.
And though picnickers could still visit, but they would be spending the time in an untidy environment. In one of the gardens, the six gym facilities installed there were no longer functioning. It was also gathered that Indian hemp smokers often colonise the area and sometimes harass visitors to extort and dispossess them of their belongings.
Michael Adeola lives in Oworo and he often enjoys spending time in one of the gardens. Adeola, who just completed his secondary education, pleaded with the state government to not only put the place in order, but to also device a means to ensure touts and miscreants are dislodged from the place to discourage their nocturnal activities.
“As far as I know, the gym facilities have been damaged for more than two years, but government has not bothered to repair them,” he said.The scenario at the Ojota gardens and parks was not different. At the Abiola Garden, the plants also looked untended. The whole place was dusty, with the wooden chairs broken. Though the garden has a perimetre fence, the gate was locked, despite the fact that this correspondent visited at noon. The waterfall was also not operational.
Across the road by the Olusosun Dumpsite is the Gani Fawehinmi Park. Also fenced like Abiola Garden, there were two security officers and two other staff of the state government on duty. The gate was partially opened during the visit. The security officers said they would only allow access to the park after the correspondent presented an approval letter from the Lagos State Parks and Gardens (LASPARK), giving permission to use the park.
It was gathered that the plant had not been watered for some time, because the four boreholes within the park are not functional. The toilet, though newly built, was not open for use, because two of the four boreholes meant for it were not functional. But unlike Abiola Gardens, the chairs in the parks were far better, with just a few that were partially damaged. Within the same location, there are other gardens that are not fenced. One is beside the Abiola Garden and another is an open garden with overgrown weed.
Some women who claimed to be working for Highway Managers were sighted picking discarded bottles, papers and cellophane dumped on the floor by visitors in the garden beside Abiola Garden. It was also learnt that the boreholes in all the gardens were not working. When the correspondent requested to use the toilet with damaged door and water closet, he was told there was no water to flush.
Maybe because they are within the corridor of government, the JJT and Ndubuisi Kanu Parks have not suffered much neglect like others. The grass in the two parks was green, lush and well tended. There were vendors offering refreshment items to visitors. There are many attractions for visitors to the park. These include visitors enjoying free wifi. There are also facilities for children to have fun, two waterfalls, and a children’s playground.
Such playing grounds for children are not available in other locations visited, except in Gani Fawehinmi Park and the newly constructed Abayomi Finnih Park, which has a mini zoo, bicycle track, dry fountain, aviary, botanical gardens, art arcade, cool spot, canteen, and a commercial stand, among others.
When The Guardian contacted the General Manger of LASPARK, Mrs. Adetoun Popoola to speak on why the parks and gardens are untended, the boreholes not functional among other issues observed about the state of the recreational centres, she asked that the public affairs officer of the agency be contact for adequate response. This was complied with, and the public affairs office promised to get the general manager’s comment, but no reply yet from the agency as at press time.
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