Ejigbo’s Valley of Death


Ifoshi Road, the major access road for residents of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, has been in a deplorable condition for over two decades without serious attention by the Lagos Government, writesPeter Uzoho

Ejigbo, located in the suburb of the city of Lagos, transformed from a community to a Local Council Development Area within the Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State, under the administration of former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, for administrative convenience, and development.
The community-turned LCDA boasts of thousands of dwellers who cut across all the tribes and languages in Nigeria. The residents who are responsible and patriotic citizens are engaged in various activities to earn a living, ranging from public service, private businesses, religious ministries, among others. 
However, the thought of the approaching rainy season every year reactivates fear and feelings of uneasiness among them. To them, it is another period of suffering and pain accompanied with groaning and Lamentations. This is occasioned by the horrible experience of the people on the Ifoshi Road and all the street roads whenever the rain sets in.
Alighting at the Iyana-Ejigbo Bus Stop, which links the Ifoshi Road, one’s attention is immediately attracted by a terrible jungle in which pedestrians, motorists, commercial tricycle (keke-marwa) and motorcycle operators are struggling to wriggle out of the ditches on the road. You could see both the operators and the passengers sitting on the automobiles tilting sideways as they try to avoid falling into the gullies on the road.
Ifoshi Road is the major access road for a densely populated community called Ejigbo, and this road has been in deplorable condition for more than 20 years with no concrete efforts from the government to fix it. The road links Ejigbo to Idimu and other neighbouring communities in Alimosho. It also links the community to the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway through the Ikotun-Ejigbo junction.
Due to the bad state of the road, a journey of two to three minutes now takes longer than 30 minutes to make, leaving users drenched and perspiring. On a daily basis, accidents are recorded with some resulting to fractures and deaths, especially when there is aggressive struggle for right of passage between the motorcycle operators and motorists.
In Ejigbo, economic activities have been on the downward trend because there is no easy passage for the residents and visitors. From workers to shop owners, bus drivers to motorcycle operators, to tricycle operators, school children and to pedestrians, life in Ejigbo is no longer worth living. To them, the simplest option is to vacate the place as there is nothing good about the community again. The Ifoshi Road has turned to the Biblical valley of the shadow of death. Not only is the Ifoshi Road bad, even the major streets in the community have become eyesores.
Baring his mind on the unfortunate situation, one of the Okada riders, Mr. Okeke Okeke, in an interaction with THISDAY, said they, (the okada riders), make money but don’t make savings because they spend the money on repairing their motorcycles damaged by the bad road. “How can we make savings with this road like this? We’re are suffering a lot here and nobody wants to help us in this community,” Okeke said.
According to him, he has been in Ejigbo for five years and nothing has been done about the road even when the local government officials come to collect money from them on a daily basis.
“Every okada rider here pays the local government N600 everyday and nothing is being done by the LCDA officials to repair the bad roads. The one that marvels me most is that when they collect these levies they will share them among themselves without using the funds to repair the bad roads in Ejigbo. They’re just doing nothing here. And if you protest they will plan and attack you.” He wondered whether there was something spiritual in Ejigbo that had been hindering development in the area.
Sharing similar views with Okeke, another motorcycle operator, Mr. Gbenga Balogun lamenting on the ugly state of the road and its effect on him, said for years, he had not been able to make good savings from the business, noting that the money comes and goes into the fixing of his bike.
“When I make money, I use it to repair my motorcycle. In a year I buy not less than three tyres and they are very costly. You can’t save because of the expense on the repair of motorcycle which are caused by this bad road. You buy tyre today before two months it has punctured,” he said.
Apart from the damage on his bike, Balogun revealed that his health is also affected. “After plying through this road with all the potholes and stones, I become weak. I’ll be feeling pains all over my bones and joints and even all parts of my body. At times it will not allow me to work the next day. So here life is not safe at all. We’re just moving here only by the grace of God,” he added.
Sharing his predicament, Essien Essien who runs a restaurant along the Ifoshi Road, complained of shortfall in his income anytime the rain begins. He said due to the bad road, customers find it difficult to come around to patronise him, which he said leads to wastage sometimes.
“Things are not moving in this area due to the bad road. We’re not happy at all. We’ve cried to the government but nothing has happened on this road. It’s affecting us because when people cannot move on the road how can we sell? We’ll cook and at the end of the day the food becomes leftover because we could not sell.  People must see road to pass before they can come to patronise us,” he said.
According to him, other traders in the area who come to buy food no longer come because they are not selling and therefore have no money to eat in the restaurant. “It’s all about this road. It’s not passable at all.”
A lot of people have left Ejigbo for places where there are good roads and where businesses are moving. Ejigbo is no longer the Ejigbo we used to know. Everything here has turned upside down.”
Although the people of Ejigbo are crying about the deplorable condition of the road, but Essien revealed that politicians at the state and local governments had resorted to using the road project for politics. “They will just come and pick few of the top people in this community and settle them with some money and all of them will keep quiet. They won’t say anything about the road again. We pay development fee every year to the government but we don’t see any kind of development here. It’s really terrible here.”
To save himself and family from the problem, Essien is praying to God to enable him raise money so they can relocate to somewhere else.
Mr. Israel Olaiya is a dealer in electrical and electronic appliances, whose shop is also along the dilapidated road. He has been in the community since 2000 and, according to him, the road has remained in that same state all through the years. He said all his customers had deserted him because of the poor condition of the road.
“There is no customer again. I will come to shop, sit from morning till night and there will be no customer to come and buy. It’s only some that have sympathy for me that still patronise me and for them to do that they will call me to bring what they need to their house as they can’t come because the road is too bad,” he said.
“We’re begging the Lagos State Government to come and fulfill all the promises they made to us here during election. This road was one of the things they promised that they would do for us when they win. They have won and they have been in power since two years now. So we plead to them again to come and rescue us from this problem,” he added.
On his part, a concerned member of the community, Mr. Olakunle Abdulsalami, decrying the poor state of Ifoshi Road, noted that it had been like that for many years. He revealed that the only thing the local government usually do was to fill up the gullies with stones which he said was an addition to the damaging effect of the road on the users.“Everyday people’s tyres are punctured because of the stones that have developed sharp edges.”
He said none of the link roads in Ejigbo, from Ifoshi Road to the road linking Ebenezer bus stop, and Daleko to Moshalashi which leads to Lafinwa Road, have been done, adding that the people are going through serious pains.”
He added that the residents of Ejigbo had not seen anything that would make them happy. “We’re just suffering and smiling in this Ejigbo. So we are just here like people that have no leaders. We are begging government to remember that we are human beings. They should come and build this Ejigbo Road to alleviate our suffering,” he noted.
Meanwhile, when THISDAY went to the palace of the Oba of Ejigbo to get his comment concerning the road, one of the palace chiefs, Akinlagun Saheed, said that the king was not on seat. However, Saheed, obliging to make comment on behalf of the king, said the road for sure, was giving the community serious concern, noting that they had been appealing to the state government to help them fix the road.
He disclosed that they “saw in one of the national newspapers a couple of months ago, where the state government said it has approved the construction of Ejigbo Road and other roads but we are yet to see any action.”