Sango area of Ogun state
A clean up exercise by the Ogun State government brings a new lease of life to a notorious spot in the Sango area of the state, Adewole Ajao writes
It looks a bit like the Obafemi Awolowo Roundabout in the Ikeja area of Lagos with traffic and business making the Sango roundabout lively during peak hours. It is almost 12 noon and some tramps catching a nap on the federal government bridge close to the business district beat a retreat when some government officials brandishing tranquiliser guns arrive to whisk them off the streets. Not everyone is lucky to escape the stern-looking goons bent on clearing the streets of beggars and the mentally-challenged. This is a consequence of the no-tolerance mantra the Ogun State Government led by Senator Ibikunle Amosun has been preaching.
A forlorn-looking lady is soon whisked away by the quartet in face masks. With a handful of policemen and TRACE officials milling around the vicinity, the ones who are lucky to escape the bust scamper for safety among pedestrians.
A few years before, says an Alakuko resident, the area could pass for a pig sty. What used to be a confluence of chaos and trash has now been given a new lease of life after efforts of the state government to bring it in line with modern demands.
“Even before the bridge came the roundabout was a nightmare,” recalls the Ogun State commissioner for environment Adebayo Fari during a chat. “People thought it would bring relief but some turned it into a market place. It was ugly and unsightly. This informed out decision to clean it up.”
A clear circle under the bridge used to be choked with traders. Now it has an armoured police van nestled within the concrete and sand. They observe with keen interest the traffic that flows with ease along the Idi Iroko and Ijoko arms of the four-route roundabout.
An unfortunate motorcyclist has just been apprehended for failing to drop a passenger in one of two designated nearby parks. This attracts several pleas to the stern-looking fellows in green from sympathisers.
“The main problem we have here are the commuters,” discloses a TRACE officer. “Usually, even so-called educated car owners are the worst violators of traffic offences. With the zero tolerance on street trading and indiscriminate parking, things have greatly improved. Rush hours still give us some headache, but things would be easier if the drivers observed traffic rules the state government has put in place.”
It is not exactly a replica of the Oshodi displacement that sent many scurrying for adjoining towns. But the residents are getting used to the new look. More beautification is in the offing. Apart from the two garages that currently cater for Otta and Lagos-bound travellers, the Ogun State Government is involved with stakeholders on ways to consolidate on their clean-up exercise.
A trader who owns a shop close to the Otta axis of the bridge recalled the chaotic scenes that were synonymous with the area since1984 when he opened shop in the area. It is a relief that street trading has become history and drivers now ply the road with the fear of TRACE haunting them. He, nevertheless, thinks the area needs street lights to help pedestrians move easily during their nocturnal trips around the thoroughfare.
The Ijoko end of the road has also been fingered as a remaining piece of a puzzle the Ogun State Government must tend to. With much of the vehicular movement suffering due to a road that changes its complexion during the rainy season, a traffic warden used the opportunity to call on the state government to actualise the desires of the people by repairing the road.
“We are using this opportunity to appeal to the state government to help us repair the road. If it is put in proper shape, it will ensure quicker movement of traffic from here to Ijoko,” she says.
On both issues, Fari says the state government is already moving to quell the perceived problems. The only cog in the wheels of progress is finance. He was however upbeat that rapid change would soon grace the concerned areas and others. He gives this hint, while he urges for patience.
“Both problems are under the purview of the Works Ministry and Bureau of Electrical Engineering but part of the beautification proposal is for lighting and a proposal for lighting the park is in the works. On the Ijoko Road, we have done some palliatives and the plan is a four-link road extending from Ijoko to Ojodu. It will be our flagship project,” he says.
Like Oshodi which has shed its proverbial spots, many will be hoping the Sango Roundabout can also adapt with the wind of change.