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LAGOS, THE RAINS, THE ROADS AND THE PEOPLE

Tayo Ogunbiyi

That it has been raining profoundly in Lagos, for quite sometimes would be an understatement. The volume of rains being experienced lately at the ‘Center of Excellence’ corroborates an earlier forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) concerning “extended rains for areas in and around Adamawa, Ogun, Edo, Niger Delta and low-lying areas such as Lagos”.

A critical feature of Lagos topography is that the state is essentially made up of low lying terrain up to 0.4 percent below the sea level. Naturally, this arrangement is the source of huge drainage challenges that confront the state. If this is added to the volume of rain that is being experienced in the state lately, it would be realized that there is possibly no way there would not be flash flooding in Lagos.

Logically, when flash flooding occurs, one of the negative effects is that it washes away the surface of the roads, thereby making them almost impassable. This often results into avoidable gridlocks that make motoring a dreadful experience. Flash flooding; which is mostly a consequence of Lagos’ peculiar topography is, therefore, one of the factors responsible for frequent damages of Lagos roads.  This explains why the Lagos state government regularly does palliative works on roads across the state.

However, irrespective of natural, scientific and other such plausible factors that complicates traffic experience on Lagos roads, it remains the primary duty of government to ensure that the burdens of the people, especially in terms of reducing travel time is reduced to the barest level.

Well, the good thing is that the current administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu clearly understands the place of the people in a democracy. Being a government that came into office through an overwhelming mandate of the people, one principal thing that is held sacrosanct by the administration is the wellbeing of the people.

Considering most of his public pronouncements and actions since he assumed office as the 15th governor of Lagos State, Mr. Sanwo-Olu has evidently demonstrated that his main goal in government is to improve the living condition of the people. On his very first day in office, the governor visited the Staff Bus Pool at the Secretariat, Alausa and promised to boost its fleet with brand new busses. Three days after he made the promise, 35 brand new state of the art busses were promptly added into the staff bus fleet. The main purpose, of course, is to make life more comfortable for the staff.

It is as a result of the Sanwo-Olu administration’s objective of making life more meaningful to the people that it made Transportation and Traffic Management the first cardinal aspect of its THEMES agenda. Since assuming office, the government has not only been taking the talk about improving traffic situation in the state, it has also been walking the talk.

For instance, on his 5th day in office, precisely on Sunday, June 2nd, Governor Sanwo-Olu, in the company of his deputy, Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat, visited the long abandoned Lagos-Badagry Expressway and pledged the commitment of his administration to resume reconstruction work on this all important road before the end of June. True to his words, three weeks after he made the promise, the Sanwo-Olu administration actuallyflagged-off commencement of work on the international gateway. Again, as always, the primary of objective is to bring soccour to Lagos residents who live along the axis.

It is in further demonstration of its people centric philosophy that the Sanwo-Olu administration, which actually came on board in the thick of the rainy season, has made continuous rehabilitation of roads a core mandate. As earlier stated, in Lagos, the rainy season often has serious implications for human and vehicular movement as significant portions of the roads are largely damaged by the rains. But in-spite of the rains, the Sanwo-Olu administration has empowered the Lagos State Public Works Corporation to fix bad portions of roads across the state.

Thus, the Public Works Corporation has been able to fix all its equipment while its plant is now fully up and running. This has enabled the corporation to begin palliative works on major roads in places such as Ogudu, Iju, Ilupeju by Ilupeju Secondary  School, Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Ikotun- Igando axis, Apapa, Jibowu, Ikorodu Road, parts of Ikorodu town, Itoikin, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi among others.

It is important to stress that personnel of the corporation work 24 hours round the clock in order to ensure speedy intervention. They work at nights mostly in high density areas of the state to ensure that the traffic situation is not further compounded.  By defying the prolonged rainy season in its road rehabilitation’s quest, the Sanwo-Olu administration has disregarded a universally held belief that road maintenance work is seldom done during the rains.

Presently, the state government has identified about 60 traffic gridlocks in the state and it is working round the clock to ensure that gridlock red spots such as Third Mainland Bridge and Lekki-Ikoyi/Admiralty Way and Lekki Toll Plaza, among others would be urgently tackled and resolved. This informed the current study the state government has embarked upon concerning how best to tackle the perennial Lekki toll gate traffic.

Also, Governor Sanwo-Olu has charged the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, to effectively carry out their functions by ensuring strict compliance with all extant traffic rules and regulations as prescribed in the enabling law. Similarly, the governor announced 100% increase in the allowances of LASTMA officials to encourage and motivate them in the discharge of their duties.

Meanwhile, Governor Sanwo-Olu has assured Lagosians on the completion of all outstanding road projects in the state. The Governor made this assurance during a recent work visit to the Imota Rice Mills in Ikorodu division of the state. Towards this end, Sanwo-Olu assured Ikorodu residents that contractors would soon be mobilized to begin work on the Igbogbo and Agric/Isawo Roads as soon as there was a break in rainfall.

He said: “We are aware of the two major critical roads in the Ikorodu axis, the Igbogbo and Isawo/Agric Roads. When there is a break in the rainfall, the contractors will fully get back to site. We need to be tactical to avoid waste”.

Without a doubt, the Sanwo-Olu administration understands the need of the people and it is ever ready and willing to do all within its means to ensure that Lagosians are given a better deal. This is what it promised Lagosians and this is the course it is determined to pursue.

Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

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