New Telegraph

Commuters, residents lament poor state of Idi-Oro–Mushin Agege Motor Road

Background

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Kalakuta Republic was a symbol of resistance against military dictatorship and a hub of artistic and political expression. It was raided and burned down by state security forces described as ‘unknown soldiers’ in 1977, in an attack that left many injured and ultimately hastened the death of Fela’s mother, Remi Ransome Kuti. The Kalakuta Republic was the name the Afrobeat musician and political activist gave to the communal compound that housed his famous family and band members, including a recording studio. However, many people may be unaware that Kalakuta Republic was first located at 14, Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Mushin in Lagos. Fela declared it ‘independent’ from the state ruled by the military junta then after he returned from overseas. The compound was burned to the ground on February 18, 1977.

Disrepair

Now the same Idi-Oro, MushinAgege Motor Road, has been in a state of disrepair for a long time, causing traffic congestion and hardships for motorists and residents. The affected routes include Agege Motor Road/Isolo Road, Ikeja/ Oshodi-Ilupeju Bypass, which have pockets of failed portions. Recently, New Telegraph visited these areas for a first-hand experience of the situation and also interviewed residents. Most of the road users appealed to the Lagos State government to urgently fix the failed portions especially around Mushin – Okocha and Idi-Oro sections. Mr Promise Okoye, a trader in electronics, who lives and works around the Idi-Oro axis, said: “The main reason why the road is so bad is because of the drainage system. People are in the habit of throwing refuse into the drainage. When it rains, there is no space for the water to stay in the gutters so it overflows with refuse to the road. ‘‘When you have this kind of situation happening regularly the road becomes damaged. This has been our experience for some time and it has been a recurring issue. “It happens almost every year. It’s like a meal ticket for some contractors because when they come here and apply some palliative measures on the road, it gets damaged again and again. The road as it is today is a total mess. It is un-motorable. Many vehicles have sunk on this road and got spoiled. Containers have fallen several times. It’s just in a state of mess.” When asked what the state government is doing about the failed portions of roads, Okoye replied: “They (LASG) are trying to do some repairs here and there. They are removing the refuse from the gutters and filling the potholes on the roads. ‘‘They also recently poured stones on the road. I think what is needed is a complete rehabilitation of this road because it’s still bad. Motorists have chosen to ply one way in order to avoid the road. Plying one way is a major cause of accidents in this country but the drivers have no choice, can you really blame them?”

Education

Speaking further, Okoye said, the government needs to educate the people to stop dumping waste into the drainages. “People do it all the time. They also need to make laws against the evil acts of dumping refuse into the gutters because the drainage system is not a dustbin. People ought to be prosecuted for it, to serve as a deterrent to others.” He also called for regular drainage clearing in Lagos’ communities, “which is why I said earlier that private waste management companies should be employed in Lagos because LAWMA cannot do it alone. If they clear gutters regularly, it makes the gutters free and protects flooding, which in turn protects our roads. When it rains, you cannot even pass here because of flooding, it will start from Mushin and everywhere will be swamped,” he said. On his part, Mr Segun Williams said: “I was born here. My family live and work in Mushin here, so were my parents and grandparents and I work with the Mushin Local Government Council, so I know what is going on here first hand because this is our home and we are concerned because this is a major road. “Articulated trucks carrying containers ply this road regularly. Many of these containers are not firmly secured to the trucks and they often fall because of the bad roads which is very risky. This is why we are appealing to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to come to our aid and fix this road permanently. ‘‘Majority of the Keke Marwa (Motorcyclists), buses and private vehicles ply one way and you cannot blame them, because the roads are terrible.” Speaking further, Williams said, the Lagos State government is doing so well in different parts of the state: “But they should not forget Mushin, some of our roads are bad, and Idi-Oro is one of them.” He added: “In all of this, we must still thank the Chairman of Idi Olowo LCDA, Alhaji Rasaq Ajala; he has been working hard to make the road motorable and alleviate the sufferings of the people. He is the one that has been clearing the gutters and using the sand to fill the potholes. The major person we can call on is Governor Sanwo-Olu. We have seen what they have done at Moshalashi, if they do similar repairs here, things will be better.’’ Another resident, Chinedu Chima, an electronic trader at Mushin, also lamented the state of the Idi-Oro-MushinAgege Motor Road profusely. According to him, the road has been in a terrible state of disrepair for the past four months. “Just last week, one container fell here after the Zenith Bank. We thank God it didn’t fall on anyone. We can only appeal to the state government to help us. They used to come and fix the roads regularly but lately they have not been coming. All the repairs you see that people are doing now have been done by the local government chairman,” he said.

Street lights

Narrating his own experience, a bus driver, Yusuf Rasaq, said: “When they started the ‘Light up Lagos’ campaign, we thought it was a beautiful idea. I think Governor Akinwunmi Ambode started it and Governor Sanwo-Olu continued the project but now, I think they have relaxed. This road is terrible at night. The street lights help when they work. People don’t get robbed because the lights act as security for the area. Robbers like to operate in the dark. ” On his part, Tunde Akin, aka ‘Panorama, a popular bus driver, said: “I was born in Mushin and I have lived here all my life. Our roads are bad. Many sections of the Agege Motor Road are bad. Mushin is part of Lagos; it seems that the government concentrates so much attention on the Lekki axis when it comes to road infrastructure, forgetting that Mushin is part of Lagos State. “You cannot make one part of Lagos look like London and another look like a shanty. It is best if every part looks like the ‘Centre of Excellence’ that Lagos is supposed to be. I am not trying to knock the Lagos State government. It is the best performing state government in Nigeria but it still has a lot of work to do. ‘‘What can we say, you the press people should help us deliver our message to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that Mushin deserves better. We also deserve good roads and fine bridges too. Lagos without Mushin is incomplete. You cannot tell the story of Lagos without Mushin and we are tired of the slum reputation, which is only attributed to us as a result of bad road infrastructure,” he said. The New Telegraph reached out to the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, who pointed out that the road in question is a federal government road, disclosing that they had contracted the repairs of that road already. Speaking further, Omotoso said: “The Lagos State government does not discriminate on road repairs and rehabilitation, whatever the case may be if we notice that the federal government does not do the needful, Governor Sanwo-Olu will bring succour to the people of that area, and I can assure you. “Generally, what we consider is how important the road is to the people of Lagos. Does it make travel within and around Lagos easy for the people? We don’t care whether it belongs to the federal government or not. We think about our people’s comfort first. ‘‘We fix all Lagos roads irrespective of whether it is a state or federal road. One way or another that road will be fixed sooner because it is both the federal and state government that are on its case now.”

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