Saturday comment1

Adesegun Ogundeji urges the public to help preserve public infrastructure

Of late, in Lagos, the rains have been torrential with its attendant effects on the state of the roads and traffic gridlocks. The roads under construction are worse hit, as they are heavily flooded. Understandably, Lagosians are not happy with the mostly rain-induced traffic situation.

 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 commuting a dreadful experience. Flash flooding which is mostly a consequence of Lagos’ peculiar topography is, therefore, one of the factors responsible for frequent damage of Lagos roads.

Fortunately, Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has responded by directing that palliative measures should be carried out to alleviate the sufferings of the people. Consequently, over 150 failed portions of roads across the state have been worked upon. But then, the torrential rains still constitute a problem.

In view of this, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has promised mass rehabilitation of roads immediately after the rainy season. He pleaded for time to ensure that the intervention would stand the test of time.

Towards this end, two critical agencies of the state government, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure as well as the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, have been working round the clock to make real the pronouncement of the governor.

It will be recalled that in order to underscore the importance of free flow of traffic on the socio-economic development of the state, the Sanwo-Olu administration made traffic management and transportation the first pillar of its development agenda termed “THEMES”.

Thus, one of the earliest tasks of Governor Sanwo-Olu was to issue the very first Executive Order on Indiscriminate Refuse Dumping, Traffic Management and Public Works. This is quite germane to the issue at hand. Granted that the government has the responsibility to ensure that the roads are motorable round the year, the people also owe the responsibility towards taking ownership of public infrastructure in their domain. This will ensure that development is extended to all parts of the state, since less is spent on avoidable repairs.

Therefore, the appropriate question to ask is: After the government has achieved the rehabilitation of bad portions of the roads, what next? Are we going to take deliberate measures as a people and government to say never again shall we leave our roads to this level of deterioration? That, indeed, is the crux of the matter.

 Lagos State has a very high water level, as the Ogun River and her estuaries empty into the Lagos Lagoon to further increase the volume of water the smallest state in the country could cope with.

The state’s largely swampy parcel of land makes road construction and rehabilitation a little more challenging and costly. The ever increasing population of the state leads to increasing demand for property development for residential and commercial purposes. Many of such developments are on poorly reclaimed wetlands.

Presently, new communities are springing up across the state, especially in Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry corridors where land is still available. The implication of this is that, instead of infrastructure development coming before properties are built, infrastructure comes after communities have been founded mostly with little or no regards for physical and urban development plans of the state.

Thus, as pressure mounts on government to provide infrastructure in the new communities, the existing ones in the communities are subjected to abuse, resulting in quick deterioration of such facilities and the need to re-fix them. This is the bane of the Lagos road infrastructure.

We must, therefore, make concerted efforts to educate and enlighten our people on the dangers of turning the drainages into receptacles of refuse. For instance, the notion that the storm water will wash away refuse is wrong and misplaced. Irrespective of the velocity of the flood, it will not carry the refuse farther than the downstream.

The moment the drainage channel is silted or clogged and inhibits the free flow of water, it stays on the roads for unnecessarily long time and affects the pavement of the road. In essence, our indiscriminate waste disposal is a major threat to road’s lifespan. The quest for land has also led many to compromise drainage channels and canal banks thus making drainage cleaning difficult.

Also worthy of mention is alleged destruction of the roads by in- traffic- hawkers to slow down traffic to enable them ply their trade. It has been severally alleged that some hawkers dig the pavement of the roads at nights. Roads rehabilitated during the dry season have been found to develop craters overnight without any rainfall. This act of sabotage is part of the heavy price we all are paying with dire consequences for time and health management.

One only hopes that appropriate security agencies will be on the look out to deal with such unlawful acts and bring the perpetrators to book. Evil triumph when evil doers are not brought to justice.

Indiscriminate parking of vehicles on our roads is another threat to the lifespan of the roads because, apart from inhibiting free flow of storm water into the drains, the portions of pavement that fall under the vehicles take time to dry, thereby weakening the asphalt.

Therefore, it has become obvious that we owe ourselves the responsibility of helping the government to make life easier for us by playing our parts in the management of public infrastructure and utilities. For now, one hopes that the rains subside early enough for comprehensive road repair works to commence. But then, we all need to work assiduously towards preserving public infrastructure across the state.

Ogundeji is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Works & Infrastructure