Lagos-Abeokuta Road: How ‘power play’ undermined rehabilitation efforts
Abiodun, Fashola Working To Straighten Grey Areas
The dream of enjoying a smooth ride on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, especially Sango-Ota axis, Ogun State soon, as promised by Governor Dapo Abiodun, may turn out to be a stillborn, if the ‘power play’ between the state and Federal Government is not shelved.
Last week, almost seven months after the planned take-off of the total overhaul of the road by the Federal Government, Governor Abiodun, while inspecting some bad spots on the road, issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to commence work on the road, after which the state may take over the road.
The governor who expressed worry over the hardship motorists are being subjected to on the road declared that his administration would not fold its arms and allow its citizenry to continue to suffer due to the negligence of the authority in charge of this road.
“If after two weeks, the Federal Government refuses to commence work on this road, I will take it over and reconstruct it,” he said.
But few days after, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that the state has no power whatsoever to embark on the project.
The development, termed ‘power play’ according to concerned residents of the area, is capable of causing more damage to the road that has claimed several lives in the last two years.
Currently, motorists, pedestrians and other road users plying the expressway who have expressed joy over the Governor’s promise, which many say is long overdue, are worried that the saga between former Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole during the commissioning of the Sango bridge, is about to repeat itself.
A teacher, who resides around Joju area of the town, Mr. Israel Idowu, who regretted the pain caused by the endless rehabilitation of the road in the last 20 years, said both the state and Federal Government should dialogue to resolve the issue for the interest of the road users.
“The Federal Government is controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), likewise the state. They should find a common ground to settle the issue and make the road passable. Like the adage that when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers, it’s the road users that have been suffering.
“If the Federal Government fails to do it and still debar the state from doing it, it’s the masses that’ll suffer. Originally, it is the responsibility of government but they have failed us in this area for a long time and now when there seems to be a succour in sight, they should both sheathe their swords for the purpose of fixing the road,” he said.
A commuter driver, who simply gave his name as Jendor, narrated how the governor was booed during the road assessment visit. He said if the governor is serious about fixing the road, he should have provided palliative immediately, instead of issuing ultimatum to the Federal Government.
Said he: “To say we are tired of the antics of government on this road is to say the least. Imagine a contract awarded since 1999 still dragging till now, due to insensitivity of a government we voted into office is very shameful.
“They should shelve their ‘power play’ and fix the road. They don’t ply this route, so they don’t know the agony we experience on daily basis. If the Federal Government is not ready, they should allow the state to do it and we move on. This is APC to APC government, there should be no excuse.”
When The Guardian went on a tour of the road last Thursday, the dilapidation around the Abule-Egba, Lagos State and Sango section of the road is massive.
Though some palliative works were done on a section of the road last year, with the promise to continue in January, it was observed that the contractors are yet to resume, due to paucity of fund.
Currently, the stretch between the old Tollgate, Sango, Ogun State and General Bus Stop, in Abule-Egba area of Lagos State, is an eyesore, affirming decadence in the country’s road infrastructure.
The stretch from Obadeyi bus stop via Ijaiye, through Iyana-Meiran, Salolo, Adura, Casso to Kollignton bus stop is extremely bad. The entire section is dotted with potholes and craters of different shapes and sizes.
On different occasions, cars, commuter buses and lorries have been wedged on the section, while cases of articulated vehicles fallen on their sides have become a common occurrence, especially at the Obadeyi and Kollington bus stops.
Beyond Kollington, the stretch from Mosalashi bus stop, through Alakuko, Amje, Ajegunle to the tollgate is in a battered state. Investigation reveals that the sorry state of the road is responsible for 80 per cent of the ghastly auto accident at the tollgate.
According to the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) report released last November, no less than 33 people have died, out of 1,254 persons involved in a total of 140 accidents, at the tollgate, in the last five years.
Beyond the tollgate, the most terrible spots along the Abeokuta road are Joju Junction; Ilepa; Iyana-Shebik; Papalanto; Ewekoro; Iyana-Egbado; Itori Bridge, and Obada-Oko, among others. The worst stretch of the axis is from Ewekoro to Itori.
Traffic in and around these bad spots is always at a standstill. Once this happens, policemen and traffic control officers are always helpless.
The state of the road has worsened in the last four weeks with the incessant rain. Areas like Casso bus stop, Ajegunle, Kollington, tollgate, Joju Junction, and Itori are always waterlogged.
Consequently, passengers are often stranded in those areas for hours, especially at peak periods. When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Ogun State Governor, Mr. Kunle Somorin, assured that both the state and Federal Governments are working out possibilities to fix the road at the earliest possible time.
He said: “Don’t forget that it’s the welfare of Ogun people who usually geo-locate their problems. The people care less about road ownership – whether state or Federal. Discussions and options are on the table. Let’s not pre-empt the outcome. Both governments are working out possibilities to fix the road at the earliest possible time.
“I am sure those grey areas will be sorted out in no time. What I want us to know is that people find it difficult to differentiate between state and Federal Government roads. There were options to use the tax credit to fund the reconstruction and we (Ogun State government) has found somebody with a tax credit suitable enough to fund the road. And if there is a gap, we are prepared to fill those gaps and that has been communicated to the various ministries involved.
“Discussions are going on between the governor and the minister and I am sure they are working towards resolving the issues.”