TBS, Ojodu Berger: Monuments that will change Lagos skyline
Quietly, with the new look Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) BRT terminus and the multi-layered pedestrian bridge along with a flyover and road modernization at Ojodu-Berger, Lagos is becoming noticed for its world class monuments dropping from the ideas-box of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the same way the great Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) have become the attraction of those cities.
These three structures, for ages the cynosure and first port of call of all who visit, remain treasured artistic possessions of their countries. This is so for a couple of reasons. First, they have aesthetic values. As we all know the human sense of assessment cherishes works of art. It is not only the ancient gods of Mount Olympus who loved beautiful phenomena. The mortals they reigned over also bestowed honour on what they considered to be admirable.
Secondly, such monuments speak of the creativity and ingenuity of man in the face of his mortality. They announce that although he would die, his works would outlive him, just as the great works of William Shakespeare have survived centuries after the death of the playwright.
Thirdly they have a strong economic pull. Consider the tens of thousands of people who pay hard currency to visit the great Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro). The numbers of such tourists have aggregated into millions over the decades.
Many observers easily agree that what would also emerge at TBS and Ojodu-Berger in Lagos State after final construction work, along with other structures springing up would place this old federal capital with a population of more than 21 million mark in the league of those mega cities with attractive iconic landmarks. At TBS, there has been a huge investment by the Ambode administration to modernize the terminus and make it rhyme with the injection of over four hundred new air conditioned luxury buses into the commute system in the state.
The upgrade is featuring spotless-white structures that boast of a meandering roof (white roof as opposed to a conventional blue roof). These sheltering tops roll into one another to suggest a transition from one stand or position to the other. The roofs admit of sunlight but yet prevent the discomfort of the scorching sun. The wavy formation of the roof also reflects the coastal attribute of Lagos State, with the powerful Atlantic waves beating its shores.
The thinking of the Government and the designers is obvious. The citizens patronizing BRT must be shielded from the elements, even as they wait for the buses. Their comfort is not only to be guaranteed in the air-conditioned vehicles. After all, government’s concern for its citizens must not only be for the elites; it must be for all.
Besides, if the government is to be taken seriously in its avowed determination to decongest the streets and lure motorists to leave their cars at home and embrace the BRT, it must create such enticements as comfortable waiting points, as well as, conducive transit buses.
Now it is clear that the Lagos State government has overcome these challenges with what we are witnessing at TBS. The white roof stands are, so to say, an unblemished evidence of government’s success story on that score.
The work at Ojodu-Berger on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway presents a far more ambitious spectacle, which is drawing thousands and thousands more to conclude that truly Ambode is out to push Lagos State into a world-class city. Numbers may count in determining the status of a city as a global index. But it is necessary also to consider its infrastructural delivery. In this case we can safely point at what is emerging at Ojodu-Berger.
Something of a magical performance has taken place there. In one fell swoop, the government has outlawed the traffic bedlam and the chaotic human movement in the area with the provision of a labyrinth of pedestrian bridge together with a fly-over and the construction of the road from Omole (phase II). This has completely changed the topography of the area.
The footbridge itself is a marvel as it is the first of its type in Nigeria. I’m describing it as a labyrinth because it has a number of openings and access points that guide the pedestrian into the haven of safety above the relentless traffic below. The construction has obliterated the danger commuters face as they arrive from the long trip from the hinterland of Nigeria, since that is the major point of disembarkation of road travelers.
In the past, the area provided perfect material for a discourse on a classical notion of commotion. Now it presents a perfect stuff for discourse on order and sanity. A flyover is also springing up there. Similarly, a road is being constructed from Omole (phase 11). All these are expected to eliminate the traffic bottlenecks that characterize that axis and are responsible for severe man-hour losses in traffic congestion. Observers say when completed, these projects would save lives lost in accidents that occur when pedestrians cross the expressway.
Recently, at the Town Hall Meeting at Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, Governor Ambode said the iconic projects at TBS and Ojodu-Berger would not be a one-off show. He said his government would push for the replication of these totems of development in other areas of the state. He calls it a new model of governance. Ambode’s idea of an all-inclusive government is one in which in his words “No one or segment of the society, irrespective of colour, race, faith, status, ability, or disability is left behind… In my administration, everybody counts… As long as you reside in Lagos, we will make Lagos work for you.”
Actually, these were words he used in his inaugural speech last year upon beginning his work as governor of Lagos State. With the physical infrastructural work he has undertaken as signposted at TBS, Ojodu-Berger, Oworonshoki, Ketu-Alapere and some parts of the city, there can be no doubt that the governor in under two years has demonstrated that by the time he runs the full course of four years, he would have fulfilled his promise to deliver a world class city to the citizens.
Many believe, and rightly so, that if there is a city capable of placing Nigeria in the group of nations whose monuments attract tourists like Eiffel Tower (Paris), Statue of Liberty (New York) and Statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) do, Lagos has given an indisputable signal that it is the Nigerian metropolis to play that role.
Already, the Eko Atlantic City project in the state is also preparing grounds for that. Let me conclude that with preparations for the 50th Anniversary of Lagos State next year in feverish stage, Lagos under Akinwunmi Ambode is poised for more modern infrastructural renaissance.
Anibaba, an economist wrote from Gbagada, Lagos