On Friday, September 25, I moved between Awori Bus-Stop in Abule-Egba, Lagos State to Abekoko in Ifo Town, Ogun State, and I experienced first-hand the terrible encounters Nigerian masses face on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
The Expressway is the busiest inter-state and intra-city route in Nigeria and handles more than 250,000 Passenger Car Units (PCUs) daily. It as well constitutes one of the largest road networks in Africa.
As a matter of fact, the construction and development of the first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba has been done.
The phase II which runs from Abule-Egba to Ota toll gate, the boundary between Lagos and Ogun States has not started at all.
The construction of the BRT lane on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway (from Oshodi to Abule-Egba) no doubt changed the face of the road and made it better, but from Abule-Egba down to Sango Ota and beyond, is a total mess!
I commute between Kola Bus Stop in Alagbado and Abule-Egba, Lagos, five days in a week, hence, I'm already aware of how calamitous the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway is, but Friday's experience opened my eyes to the even more calamitous state of the road towards and beyond the Lagos-Ogun boundary end.
"@deejaydrella: Ajala ahmadiya Lagos - abeokuta Express this fallen truck has caused traffic and also there's a bad road at this same spot the authorities incharge shld respond swiftly to this @Gidi_Traffic #Giditraffic pic.twitter.com/IeB25qEgPd— GIDITRAFFIC (@Gidi_Traffic) December 6, 2019
At the Ajala section of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway (inward Ahmadiyya), heavy-duty trucks constantly fall at a particular spot at Ajala. It's a risky spot, yet people we have in government turn blind eye to this blemish. I see this almost every morning.
“It is a shame that the road has been left to degenerate to this level, which shows the insensitivity of the government. Though it is a federal road, Lagos State government shouldn’t have left the road to degenerate to this level,” a trader bemoaned one morning.
Back to my Friday experience.
Around past two in the afternoon, I headed towards Ifo. On getting to Joju Bus-Stop, our journey was halted by flood - something akin to an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
We spent more than 30 minutes on the Sango bridge.
A light rain had just stopped, yet there was this intimidating flood that motorists, pedestrians, and other road users had to think twice before moving further.
Within the half an hour I was there, I saw at least two vehicles trapped in the flood.
Passengers had to drop off their vehicle for the driver to be able to navigate his/her way through the other lane. Then they meet up just down the road and continue their journey. Many were headed to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
I thought the hiccup ended, but another cooled its heels for commuters after Singer Bus Stop. Deplorable roads Nigeria possess!
The 'ongoing construction' by Julius Berger at Owode-Iyana/Ilogbo axis compounded road users' misery.
The gridlock, occasioned by the 'construction' impacted us heavily, as we wasted minutes on the road.
In the end, I arrived at my destination at Abekoko, Ifo at 6 PM. Calculate the hours spent on the road!
There back to Oju-ore roundabout in Sango-Ota, I spent three hours.
Ordinarily, it should have been a journey of less than an hour.
Everyone was incensed and frustrated. Some co-commuters muttered swear words for people in government.
A youthful male passenger lamented: “Oga oo [an exclamation of anger]. For most part of this journey, the traffic has been at a standstill on this route. Since they don't mingle with us, they don't know what we're facing. Rubbish people!"
Motorists, and road users plying the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Expressway, are worried by the protracted delay in completing work on the road, even as the road has gone from bad to worse in the last few months.
Two years, three months after the Federal Government of Nigeria re-awarded contract for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the road, there are still no signs of abatement in their sufferings since it was awarded a full 20 years ago.
The project, which started in 1999, has suffered several setbacks since the first contract was awarded to Julius Berger Plc, in 2000.
The first section for rehabilitation was the Ota-Abeokuta section, which contract was awarded to the same contractor in 2009.
All through the 20 years, the project has been abandoned severally, no thanks to failure by the government to release funds.
Within this period, the contractor kept vacating and returning to the site usually after the little gains had been eroded due to abandonment.
On May 14, 2018, the project was re-launched by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing at the cost of N22.387 billion, with a mobilisation fee of N3.5 billion reportedly paid a few days after.
The Director, Federal Highways, South West, Olalekan Busari, who flagged-off the rehabilitation project, told journalists at the time: “The project was divided into two sections. The first section, which starts from Ile Zik in Lagos State, spans about 20 km, while the second section, which falls within Ogun State, is 60km.
"It is a complete rehabilitation of the entire road for a period of two and a half years.”
But with just two months left to the expiration of the contract period, AllNews checks revealed that the level of work done so far on the road is below five percent.
Between the period that the road rehabilitation was flagged-off and when Julius Berger left the site, not much was achieved as the firm practically remained on the same spot at Owode-Iyana/Ilogbo axis, while scant attention was paid to other parts, which are now in a deplorable state.
Even the palliatives applied in the section in 2018 got washed away by heavy downpours at the peak of the rainy season.
Currently, the stretch between the Old Tollgate, Sango, in Ogun State and General Bus Stop in Abule-Egba area of Lagos State is a worst-affected portion of the road.
The stretch from Obadeyi Bus Stop via Ijaiye, through Iyana-Meiran, Salolo, Adura, Casso to Kollignton Bus Stop is also an eye-sore.
Beyond the tollgate, the most terrible spots along the Abeokuta road are Joju Junction, Con Oil Junction, Ijako-Tipper, Owode, Iyana-Ilogbo, 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 failed spots is always gnashing.
At whatever time of the day, road users are always subjected to painful and frustrating experiences.
Also of no positive effect on the road, is the routine intervention by the Ogun State government, in the form of stones, which is now barely noticeable and has practically been washed away, leaving the affected parts in very bad shape.
Once there is a downpour, the state of the road is worsened, and areas like Joju Junction, Ijako, Owode, and Itori become waterlogged.
Since the road was awarded two decades ago, the contract has been dragging on very slowly and constituting a nuisance to the people.
READ ALSO: Third Mainland Bridge: Work To Soon Reach Completion
The state of the road remains a shame and an embarrassment to not just the Federal Government, but also the governments of Lagos and Ogun States.
Nigeria has had three presidents since Obasanjo left office, and thirteen years have passed since Nigerians acknowledged 'OBJ' as their leader, yet the extremely important road is left to degenerate into an environmental catastrophe. Sad!