Papa Ajao: Ambode Must Not See This!
Market, Bad Roads Threaten Residential Estate
IF there’s one place in Lagos that needs the urgent attention of the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, it is Papa Ajao Estate in Mushin.
Far from sending Local Government Task Force officers to police traders, who are gradually taking over the estate, the Big Boss in Alausa needs to pay a visit to this location; it would be an opportunity to witness firsthand what good old Papa Ajao Estate has become.
If Ambode decides to take up the challenge and visit the estate, he must prepare for a tough ride, as almost all roads leading to Papa Ajao are in terrible shape. Sometimes, you wonder how residents, including 82-year-old veteran printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya, who lives on 41 Oloje Street, cope with life in the estate turned spare parts market.
Unlike in the early days, when Papa Aajo was a haven for the middle class, who operated from there to Ikeja and Lagos Island, the estate has become a market place, with importers offloading containers almost on daily basis. With the rainy reason now at its peak, the roads have gone from bad to worse.
On a good day, Akinwumi Street, by Five Star Bus Stop, would have been the best access to Papa Ajao Estate, but for years now, that road has ceased to exist; it’s no longer motorable for trailers, cars, trucks and tricycles (Keke). Besides Okada riders, who managed to salvage a section of the road in order to earn their daily bread, Akinwumi has become a footpath. From the expressway to where it connects Ladipo Street, the road is in a very deplorable shape.
“You people should help us tell Ambode to come and see what is happening to this road. This place we ride on now (pointing), it was we, Okada riders, who contributed money to buy stones and sand, to fill the section. There was even a time when it became impossible for people to walk through this place into the market. If I didn’t have family to feed, I would have stopped riding this Okada because all the roads in this area are very bad,” said Abubakar Magaji, a commercial motorcyclist from Kano State.
According to Magaji, the poor state of roads within Papa Ajao has forced Okada riders to increase fares, while others, who could not cope with the hostile environment, have since changed route.
“We used to collect N50 to carry passengers from Market or Estate to Five Star Bus Stop. But the way it is, now, we collect N200. Even at that, we are at a loss because you end up using the entire money to repair the machine. Even the Keke operators no longer pass through this road. I have one wife and three children. Payment of rent, feeding, everything is on my head, so I have to struggle. So, government should come and help us,” he said.
If you opt to approach Papa Ajao through Ladipo Bus Stop, then you have to deal with containers and traders, who display goods indiscriminately on the road. With warehouses dotting the entire stretch, driving through Ladipo Street is a herculean task; it tasks your patience.
From Ladipo Bus Stop to AP Filling Station, the road is manageable. But after AP into Ladipo Market and down to Papa Ajao, it is one big mess.
“I don’t exactly know what’s wrong with this road because sometime ago, they actually started working on it. But later, the work stopped. I can count how many containers have fallen off here because of the bad road. Even at that, the Local Government people bring tickets here everyday. All these cars that are parked here (pointing), they collect N500 for each. Yet, we don’t see what they do with the money,” Simon Odoh, said.
Another alternative route into Papa Ajao Estate is at the Iyana Isolo axis. But with the unending construction work there, you would have to drive one-way on the pothole-ridden road. When it rains, things could be horrifying. As it is, the only route into the Estate is the recently constructed Ojekunle Street. Notwithstanding, you still have the Mercedes spare parts dealers to contend with; they’ve converted half the road into parking lots for Tokunbo (fairly used) cars.
Inside the Estate proper, commercial activities boom. For instance, Osoro Street, from beginning to end, is a full-blown market constantly causing vehicular traffic; almost all the buildings on the street are for commercial activities. Though some of them have tenants living in them, the ground floors are usually for Ladipo traders.
Of all the streets within the Estate, Oloje seems to be the only place where some sort of sanity still exists. Regardless, house No 8 on the street has been converted to a warehouse for Tokunbo goods.
From Odunsina Street to Oloruntoyi Street, Olapeju and others, every corner is a potential mini mechanic workshop, making it difficult for even residents to secure parking spaces.
“Those of us, who have been here for long will tell you that things have changed. The expansion of Ladipo Market into the Estate has become a huge menace for residents. Unfortunately, the landlords are more interested in who pays better; they don’t care what happens after. This place is supposed to be an estate; it’s not for business. Yes, the roads were bad, but I can tell you that the impact of the trailers worsened the situation,” said Hakeem Ayoola.
Investigation shows that the Ladipo traders have bought over some of the buildings within the estate and adopted them for business.
“They have the money. And once they know the owner of the house, it’s a matter of ‘name your price.’ The only time we have peace here is in the evening when they must have finished their businesses and gone home. Sometimes, it’s even difficult to sleep in the afternoon because of the noise. If I have my way, I would have left here a long time ago,” a resident lamented.
While some people frown at the activities of these traders within the estate, others have taken advantage of the situation to earn good money.
“All these provision shops, restaurants and kiosks started because of this market. All these people who sell things on tables pay everyday. So, you don’t expect them to complain because they are getting something from it,” said Mike Okafor.
Meanwhile, a section of the Ladipo Spare Parts Market was on Tuesday demolished by officials of Mushin Local Council, who claimed the exercise was to make way for redevelopment of the market. The operation saw the entrance gate sealed and the roof of shops taken off. A banner from the council was strapped to the gate, informing the traders that a developer would rebuild the section to an ultra-modern market.
But some of the traders said they met “hoodlums” vandalising the market with bulldozers, escorted by policemen and operatives of the State Anti-robbery Squad (SARS). Others, who were visibly devastated, shed tears uncontrollably, saying there was no prior notice from the authorities to vacate their shops.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the market, Kanayo Okonkwo, complained to The Guardian that there was no prior notice served on the traders. “We are in the rainy season. If it rains, it will spoil all our goods. That would take us back to square one. I don’t know where they want us to go. We don’t have other shops. If they gave us some kind of notice, we would know what to do. We came today to sell things but found a lock on the gate.”
He added: “We want to know why they vandalised a section of the market. If they have any issue among themselves, let them sort it out. We came here to look for daily bread, not to disturb anybody. If they really planned to develop the market, they should have, at least, informed us. The governor of Lagos State should come to our aid. If they want us to leave, we will do that. But they should do what is right,” he said.
But the Lagos State Government on Wednesday denied reports that some parts of Ladipo Market were demolished and others shut.
The Executive Secretary of the Local Government, Mr. Jide Bello, in a statement, said business activities went on unhindered at the market on Wednesday.
Bello, however, said that the council resolved to redevelop the market, which has become an eyesore, due to the unwholesome activities of some of the traders and the degradation of the surrounding, a development he said does not fit into the mega city plans of the state.
He said the Mushin Local Government Area intends to undertake development of the market in phases, and as a result has not collected any form of rent from traders in the market since the beginning of 2015.
Bello explained that the local government held several meetings with leaders of various associations in the market towards ensuring that the private developer begins the phased development. He said it was evident from the body language of the leaders that they were buying time and trying to frustrate plan by the council to redevelop the market.