Access Bank’s Quest for Serenity, Leads it to Regenerate Oniru

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SPECIAL REPORT

Good roads, adequate tree cover and organised traffic flow transform an environment, and introduce much-desired serenity in a neighbourhood. This tranquil ambiance is palpable in some parts of Ikoyi, Lagos and now the Oniru axis of Victoria Island and some stretches of Lekki are set to wear that upscale toga, courtesy of Access Bank Plc., which has rehabilitated the roads, introducing fit-to-purpose trees to refresh the air and cushion traffic noise. Bennett Oghifo writes

The project, which has the backing of the Lagos State government, is known as Victoria Island-Lekki Traffic Circulation Project-Oniru Axis. Its uniqueness is in the landscaping, and road paving, as well as improved traffic flow.

Access Bank has introduced this game-changing project to eliminate motor vehicle traffic that backup for kilometres, generating uncontrollable noise from hooting by drivers with frayed nerves.

This chaotic situation is seen as unbefitting of a first-rate financial institution like Access Bank that has its headquarters in that axis. So, its Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Herbert Wigwe set about impacting their host community, positively. He spared no expense to reshape the narrative and the Lekki-Oniru axis is now wearing a new look.

First, they specifically identified the challenges and proffered solution to each of them, with gains evolving in the form of reduced traffic congestion; improved accessibility options for ingress and egress between Victoria Island and Lekki; improved traffic flow between both places; improved environment and living standard; and enhanced security and safety.

The bank’s management decided on its corporate social responsibility mindful of the fact that Lagos State continues to experience exponential growth in different areas, most notably its population. “The population of Lagos offers the state a competitive advantage economically, however, on the down side it creates challenges in terms of traffic congestions. Traffic congestion in cities typically occurs as more and more people travel to reach their desired destinations.

“Hence, there is a lot of people moving in and out of these areas in the mornings and evenings respectively. This generates a lot of traffic especially going across the critical zone that straddles these two areas, and thus leads to a lot of traffic congestion.

“The congestion is so severe, that vehicles sometimes spend close to one hour to navigate through this axis that is just about 2 km. This is mainly caused by the current travel pattern around this axis.”

The Victoria Island and Lekki axis are two of the most commercial areas in Lagos State with huge exchange of economic activities daily, according to the bank. These areas easily provide employment opportunities for a large number of the people, explaining that this axis has close to 40% of total employment opportunities within the formal sector.09

The Victoria Island – Lekki Circulation Solution was conceptualised by Planet Projects Limited (PPL) at the instance of Access Bank Plc.

This project improved the traffic linkage and travel time between this highly economic and commercial axis of Lagos by reducing traffic congestion, experienced around this axis with huge productive man-hour loss.

Giving specific accounts of the challenges and solutions, the bank officials said at the areas identified as J1 – Sandfill Junction and J2 – Abila Abiodun, Oniru Junction, the existing issues were “traffic congestion at Sandfill and Abila Abiodun Oniru junctions caused by disruption in flow of traffic due to left turn into Lekki– Epe Expressway and Abila Abiodun Oniru Street; poor pavement conditions and silted drains leading to flooded roads.

Solutions proffered were junction improvement works; restricting of left turns into Lekki – Epe Expressway and Abila Abiodun Oniru; roads and drain rehabilitation. They also turned Abila Abiodun Oniru into a one-way street and Yesufu Abiodun Oniru (up to Four Points by Sheraton Hotel). There is an option of U-turn before the Toll Gate on Lekki – Epe Expressway.

At J3 – Four Point Sheraton Junction, the existing issues were traffic congestion at Four Point Sheraton junction, caused by six conflict movements at the junction; poor pavement conditions and silted drains leading to flooded roads.

To solve this problem, they did junction improvement works, and implemented one-way street along Chief Yesufu Abiodun Way and Prince Alaba Oniru Road to nullify conflict movement at this junction. There is also restriction of left turns into Lekki – Epe Expressway and Abila Abiodun Oniru.14

The existing issues at J4 – Akinbolagbe Junction

(Chicken Republic), were traffic Congestion at Four Point Sheraton junctions caused by faulty traffic signal, and poor pavement conditions and silted drains leading to flooded roads.

They performed junction improvement works to resolve this, in addition to installation of new traffic signals, adding that the expansion of Akinbolagbe Street will improve the efficiency of this junction.

The J5 – Muri Okunola Roundabout has existing issues such as traffic congestion and delay at the roundabout due to reduced road width, which is worsened by commercial activities and on-street parking. Road capacity is also constrained as there is only one-lane in both directions from the roundabout to Aboyade Cole Street. To resolve this, they removed roundabout and replaced with signalised junction; improved turning radius of the junction.

The J6 – Ligali Ayorinde/Akinbolagbe/Okene Road Junction has existing issues at the junction due to proximity of Akinbolagbe, Ajose Adeogun and Abdulrahman Okene junctions. There is also traffic congestion from Muri Okunola Roundabout, and the capacity of the junction is constrained due to 90 degrees corners, pavement failure and flooding.

They proffered solutions which included improvement of the Ligali Ayorinde /Akinbolagbe Junction to increase capacity. They made effort to prevent left turns from Abdulrahman Okene Close; installed traffic signals at the junction; dualized Ligali Ayorinde Street from Ajose Adeogun to Muri Okunola junctions.

Existing issues at J7 -Ajose Adeogun Junction include traffic congestion and delay at this junction, caused by dysfunctional traffic signals. There is also traffic congestion from Ligali/Akinbolagbe junction. They resolved this through installation of new traffic signal; and right turn flare lane to improve turning radius.

Another crucial area attended to was R2 – New Road Extension (Maroko), where the issues were the existing path is used for various activities ranging from market to mechanic workshop

To resolve this, they constructed a new road from Muri Okunola Roundabout to Yesufu Abiodun Oniru Road, to increase capacity and provide another alternative.

At R3 – Akinbolagbe Street, the existing issues were major bottleneck between Oniru and Victoria Island due to insufficient road width (less than two lanes per direction) and high vehicular volumes – over 1,500 vehicles/hour) and 1,200 vehicles/hour, in the morning and afternoon peak periods. Also, pavement failure is widespread with silted drains all along the length of the road.

They solved this challenge by expanded Akinbolagbe Street to ensure there are two lanes per direction. They constructed drains along Akinbolagbe Street; installed traffic signals at both ends of the road.

To help traffic circulation, there proposed one-way streets such as Chief Yesufu Abiodun Way and other roads; Abila Abiodun Oniru Road; Yesufu Abiodun Oniru (up to Four Points); Elegba Festival Road and implementation of a one-way system on Prince Alaba Oniru Road.

A resident of the area, Tayo Tajudeen, hailed the transformation works carried out by the Access Bank, commending the bank for taking on such a task to create a serene environment. “I didn’t know it was Access Bank doing it. This is really a good thing. I wish others can replicate this in other areas. I thought it was the government carrying out the construction. I am so happy by what they have done. It has reduced all the noise and chaos around here and brought some sense of order. It’s unbelievable.”

Another resident who gave her name as Bukola, also commended the transformation of the area. “Victoria Island-Oniru- Lekki axis is looking more beautiful than ever. The roads are wider and smoother with proper directions. It’s just cool and quiet unlike before. it’s like magic. I hope it stays this way.”

During the ribbon-cutting event to inaugurate the project recently, the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc., Mr. Wigwe said the bank’s desire is to offer more to its customers and host communities.

“Our track record speaks for itself,” he said, referring to past projects like that in Oyin Jolayemi and Danmole Streets in Victoria Island. “Indeed, community and social impact have become enshrined parts of our DNA as a Bank.”

Wigwe specifically lauded the Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu “for the incredible support received during the execution of this project. Our commitment to facilitating a greater Lagos will not end here and I am truly excited about the infrastructural, technological and social advancements that our partnership will foster.”

The governor, who cut the ribbon, said the roads network and improvement works provided by Access Bank would impact the lives of workers and commuters in the area, positively, stating “We achieved more than just creating a world-class road network. We have improved the drainage system of the community, reduced traffic and this has shown our drive to make the life of Lagosians easier.

“I am absolutely delighted with Access Bank as they have continued to support Lagos State Government and working with us on numerous projects across the State.

“Herbert Wigwe and his team have worked really hard to bring this project to life and have supported us on other projects like this. We appreciate the Bank for its contribution to public infrastructure improvement.”

No doubt the Lekki Circulation project is impacting various communities around that axis in a very positive way. From the palpable excitement the residents now feel about their environment to the positive image of Access Bank, the financial powerhouse which undertook the transformation of the axis it is clear that things are changing for the better for residents of the area which ofcourse houses the headquarters of the bank. Of course, kudos must go to the management of the bank for undertaking such huge corporate social responsibility project that is not only beneficial to the communities and the environment, but also for residents, motorists and visitors who commute the various roads on a daily basis. And with the chaotic traffic and the attendant environmental pollution reduced to the barest, the new look Victoria-Island Lekki axis now gives its resident a new sense of pride and ennoblement.