Charles Ajunwa writes that the Lagos-Badagry Expressway has turned to a gruelling passage for motorists and commuters plying through the transnational highway
The Lagos-Badagry Expressway as a transnational highway leading in and out of Nigeria should provide easy passage for nationals of other West African countries such as Ghana, Benin and Togo that share common boundaries with Nigeria, but rather than provide easy passage, it offers a nightmare. Foreign nationals from these countries, oftentimes arrive Nigeria through Lagos using the approved land entry points, a showcase of Nigeria to the outside world.
Indeed, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway remains a major international gateway into Nigeria, thus the road infrastructure ordinarily should be solidly built and maintained. Ironically, the road connecting Nigeria to Benin, that is, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is riddled with deep potholes, which cause frequent accidents leading to loss of lives and property. Apart from constituting a death trap, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway which is a federal road is poorly maintained, which, needless to say, portrays Nigeria as a country without maintenance culture.
Given the important role the Lagos-Badagry Expressway plays in Nigeria’s image to the outside world, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, in his wisdom embarked on the construction of a 10-lane expressway and a light rail line in order to give a facelift to the Expressway which is in line with his government’s vision to make Lagos a mega city that will rank among the best in the world.
Though contract for the 10-lane Lagos-Badagry Expressway had since been awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the slow pace of work on the highway coupled with the poor state of the entire road infrastructure stretching from Maza-maza to Badagry axis of the state, is constituting serious problem to motorists and commuters plying the route. Many Lagos residents daily groan on the present state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
Those doing one business or the other at the two major markets situated along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway – Alaba International Market and International Trade Fair Complex have expressed their reservations over the slow pace of work on the expressway.
As a result of the poor state of the road, THISDAY gathered that apart from the frequent accidents happening on the road, motorists and commuters are frequently attacked and dispossessed of their valuables by dare devil armed robbers who are said to be operating on the expressway almost on daily basis.
When THISDAY visited the road last week, the road infrastructure from Maza-maza to Badagry end of the state was ridden with deep potholes and craters filled with stagnant water. Also, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway lacked maintenance as was evident in the mountains of refuse dotting the entire stretch of the transnational highway.
THISDAY observed that broken down vehicles recklessly abandoned on the transnational highway by their owners, compound the problem of long hours of traffic logjam experienced daily by motorists and commuters on the expressway.
Emeka Eze, an electronics dealer at the Alaba International Market, Ojo, could not hide his frustration on the poor state of the road. He said, “Honestly, I cannot calculate in monetary terms how much I have lost because of the poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. Everyday I leave my house in Oshodi at 6am, I will not get to my shop until around 11am or 12 noon because of long hours spent in traffic jam.” The poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is responsible for business hours lost everyday on the highway. Because it is rush hour period for workers and others using the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, some impatient motorists and okada operators drive against traffic thereby bringing the whole road network to a standstill. “The horrible experience on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway has made me to lose many of my customers. They decided to patronise others because of my continuous lateness to work,” Eze added.
“The expansion of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is also compounding the problem of traffic jam in the state. Though work has started on the transnational highway, I am not satisfied with the slow pace of work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway by the contractors handling it. The Federal and Lagos State governments should come to our rescue because our businesses are going down on daily basis,” said a resident of the area.
Another trader from Alaba International Market, Olayinka Olaleye, said the poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is national embarrassment which he said depicted Nigerians as people who lacked maintenance culture. “The Lagos-Badagry Expressway, is a transnational highway and visitors coming from neighbouring West African countries like Ghana, Benin will be laughing at us. This doesn’t say well about us to foreigners. If those in government cannot maintain a major road like the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, then they have no business being there in the first place. A major route like the Lagos-Badagry Expressway which generates revenue for government should be maintained with the tax payers’ money.
“The human cost is unquantifiable. You see, ghastly accidents do occur almost everyday on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway due to the deep potholes and craters on the highway. Innocent school children and other road users are knocked down on daily basis by reckless motorists tying to avoid the potholes and using wrong side of the lanes. The other day, my neighbour’s daughter was knocked down in front of Maza-maza opposite FESTAC first gate. We need government to come to our aid before we are all wiped out.”
An okada operator who simply identified himself as Joseph said many of his colleagues have lost their lives on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. He attributed the deaths to the poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. “Okada business is my only source of livelihood, I have a wife and five children to cater for. I am a graduate, instead of staying at home doing nothing, I borrowed money to start the Okada business in order to fend for my family. Everyday I carry passengers from Okokomaiko where I reside to Mile 2. The road from Okokomaiko to Mile 2 is a death trap due to the sharp potholes and craters that litter the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. Many okada riders that drive against traffic have lost their lives in the process. Armed robbers have capitalised on the poor state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway to dispossess innocent motorists and commuters of their valuables.”
Many believe that the traffic snarl being witnessed on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway has come to stay due to slow pace of work on the transnational highway. They believe that lack of funds might be responsible for this, calling on the Federal Government to support the Lagos State government in ensuring that the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is completed as soon as possible to reduce the human suffering on the transnational highway.