Since the partial closure of the 600km stretch of road from Berger (New Garage bus stop) to the Ogun River (Kara Bridge) on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, some motorists have taken to alternative roads leading to their various destinations.
The alternative routes as announced by the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE) include; Iyana/Ota/Ifo/Abeokuta/Sagamu-Benin Ore expressway; Victoria Island/Lekki/Epe/Ijebu-Ode-Benin/Ore expressway or the Ikorodu/Itoikin/Ijebu-Ode-Benin-Ore expressway among others. Until December 15, motorists are apprised of the need to plan their journey, add more time to their travelling time, and take necessary precautions leading to their destinations.
Our reporter, who visited one of the alternative roads – Ikorodu-Sagamu in Ogun State, observed heavy vehicular movement on the road, which is also undergoing repair. It would be recalled that the Federal Government in 2018 launched the repair of the 30.4 km Ikorodu-Sagamu Road.
The road, a major link between Lagos and Sagamu town in Ogun State, en-route other states, has been in disrepair for over a decade. The road is also a major access road for trucks and tankers evacuating petroleum products from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s depot in Mosimi, Ogun State.
Rehabilitation of the road, estimated at N20bn, was awarded to Arab Contractors and expected to be completed in 36 months. According to the description of the project, there will be a rigid pavement of 11.65km, flexible pavement of 18.75 and 25km of drainage.
Work, according to residents along the road, has been very slow, though our reporter observed some workers constructing a drainage system on a section of the road.
Some motorists travelling to states like Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Abuja, Kogi, Kano, Ibadan, Ilorin, Osun, and the Eastern states, among others take to this road to cut off the traffic and diversions on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. The diversion of motorists to this road ordinarily should translate into economic prosperity for traders and hawkers along the axis, but that is not the case with the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road as traders decry low patronage.
Just as motorists are having a hellish time getting to their respective destinations via the damaged road, traders are also groaning as the messy condition of the road is not favourable for their businesses to thrive.
The ever-busy road, which before now was mostly plied by trailers and tankers, has further deteriorated as the rains have created deep gullies on the already damaged road. So, it is neither a smoother ride for motorists and commuters nor a conducive environment for business. Even shop owners along the road are not smiling as they claimed the slow pace of the road repair is affecting their businesses.
At Odo-nguyan along the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road, hawkers and sellers of all kinds of items including soft drinks, fried cocoyam, water, popcorn, plantain chips, and walnuts among others were seen jumping from one side of the road to the other, trying to sell their wares.
Also at Ogijo, a big community along the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road, with over 147 villages, our reporter observed traders in their shops and also along the road, but they complained of low patronage due to the ongoing construction work on the axis. According to them, the scraping of some portions of the road has made it so muddy that people no longer want to cross over to patronize them.
One of the traders, Mrs. Mohammed, said “Since we were asked to move away from the road, sales have been very poor because nobody wants their legs covered in mud all in a bid to patronise us. Before now, it was better, but the whole place is messed up, even we, the sellers are not enjoying our stay here.”
A hawker boiled egg, who gave his name as Ibrahim, said before now, he sold more than four dozen of eggs but now, he struggles to sell two dozen. “I am not motivated. The rate at which the construction work is going, is so slow that it is affecting businesses around here,” he said.
Mrs. Ibrahim Olayinka, who sells provision along the road, said “I know what I make daily before now. Ordinarily, the diversion of this road was supposed to bring about a turnover in our businesses but the reverse is the case. We are hungry; they are just cutting the road, damaging it further. When we want to go home, sometimes, we wear cellophane bags on our feet so that they don’t get messed up,”
“That portion over there was part of the place they earlier scraped when they were thinking of constructing a dual carriage road. It has been left unattended since it was scraped, constituting a nuisance to the people and vehicles. Vehicles can no longer pass through this place to their garage because it has become a trap where unsuspecting people, motorcycles and even vehicles fall into. For seven months now, I have not been able to plait my hair because I do not have the money to do so; the bad state of the road has made it difficult for potential customers to access our shops,” she cried out.
Mrs. Shittu Nasiru, who sells cloth along the road, also lamented that she can no longer feed her children due to poor sales. “Being a single parent, I can no longer feed my children. Many people have lost items like keys, slippers, phones and other valuables in the muddy section of the road. When you step on it, your foot goes deep in the mud as if you are wearing socks. The coal tar on the road was scrapped with the hope that a dual carriage road would be constructed, but now, a single carriage road is being constructed; condemning the other scraped lane for more than two years.”
“To worsen the situation, there is a power outage in Ogijo. We are in our country, but enslaved,” she lamented.
Emmanuel Oshindo, an electrician who plies his trade along the same road, appealed to the government to ensure speedy completion of the road, saying economic activities along the axis has been poor with the construction work.
Okada riders are not left out as they also complained of low patronage, saying, passengers no longer patronize them for fear of falling due to the condition of the road.
Abraham Adetola, an okada rider, said the construction work is slow, adding that the rain has further worsened the situation. “People prefer to trek than take a bike simply because they are afraid of falling. We spend plenty of money on repairing our bikes because of the bad road; we are struggling to survive,” he said.
The story is different for Oladele Shobowale, a member of the Ogijo road transport workers association who said the road is a blessing to the transport business. According to him, for more than three weeks, the road has become so busy with motorists plying it as an alternative route to or from the north, parts of the south-west and the eastern states.
The park now, he said, is experiencing a boom as there are more passengers compared to before. “Since the partial closure of the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, more passengers are taking to this route. Before now, it usually takes us more than 30 minutes to load an 18-seater bus going to Ibadan but now, in less than 10 minutes, the bus is filled up with passengers. So, for us, the closure of that road is a blessing.
“Before now, we see more of trailers on this road because there are many companies and industries here, but now, we have commercial buses travelling en masse through the road, particularly since the closure of the Lagos/Ibadan highway. The situation of the road got worse because of the heavy vehicles plying it regularly.”
While he decried the deplorable state of the road leading to Ogun State via Ikorodu, he appealed to government to hasten up the contractors to ensure they complete the work in good time. “We spend a lot of money on repairing our buses now and then because of the bad road,” he said.
The secretary of the Ogijo Development Association, Jamiu Okunade, recalled that the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road was the first major road in the south-west before the existence of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. He described Ogijo as an industrial hub of iron and steel; yet with poor social amenities.
He narrated that in 2016, then Governor Ibikunle Amosun planned to dualise the road by awarding the contract to PW Construction Company; noting that work commenced towards dualising the road After some time, I do not know what happened between the state and federal government as regards the road but the FG through the Minister of Works took over the road and that was the end of plans to dualise the road.”
“After so much pressure from the people, the road was awarded by the FG. What we expected initially was a dual carriage road, but the FG approved a single carriage road,” he said while appealing to the contractor to hasten the project so that economic activities in the area can be revived. He noted that anytime there is traffic on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, the Ikorodu-Sagamu Road becomes an alternative.
He also appealed to companies and industries in the community to give back to their host community by providing some basic amenities for the people.