Prior to the New Year celebrations, the people of Pen-Cinema bus stop in the Agege axis of the state had their own share of the Christmas parcel amidst tears and sorrows.
Their places of abode and business units were ripped off from them. Information gathered indicates that the people had been served eviction notices a year earlier as plans to embark on the construction of a flyover was underway.
Sentiments flooded people across the state as waves of anger mixed with pity overwhelmed passersby, who visited the area. People became more concerned with the time the project execution would commence while relating with the heavy flow of traffic that usually characterized areas where massive construction works are ongoing with the most recent one in Abule-Egba.
When New Telegraph visited the area, it observed that the construction work had commenced by HiTech Construction Company which was awarded the contract.
As a result of this, the area seems to have been placed under a siege with iron fences built around the site as protective measures. As expected, traffic is now being diverted to other roads which are known for heavy flow of traffic before.
This, according to many residents and passersby, has now made the gridlock unbearable.
However, the Lagos State Transportation Management Agency (LASTMA) has recently made a timely intervention through the creation of a round-the-clock special intervention and response unit. According to the General Manager of LASTMA, Mr. Olawale Musa, the unit is basically to ensure the safety of road users.
“The creation the 24-hour special intervention and rapid response unit by LASTMA is as a result of the need to address the spillover effect of the road closure and thereby assist in managing traffic across all the affected zones in the affected areas.
In addition, the Rescue and Response Department of LASTMA has been re-organised and re-invigorated to respond timely to issues of accidents, abandoned and accident vehicles on the highways in the state with special focus and attention on all areas where construction works are on-going and bridges across the state,” He said.
New Telegraph gathered that the traffic flow has been diverted to Odejobi road linking Iju road in Pen Cinema to areas like Iju, Fagba, Jungle etc.
Speaking with New Telegraph, residents and road users lamented the effect of the gridlock on not just pedestrians but most especially vehicular movements.
Mr. Akeem Alowonle, a civil servant who comes from the Iju direction, stated that the road has been known for heavy gridlock before but that the current construction which led to the diversion of traffic flow from Ogba, Agidingbi areas to the road has succeeded in multiplying the traffic congestion on the road.
He averred that though traffic jam is highly characteristic of the road, the level of congestion there presently is highly intolerable.
“Before now, if I enter this road by 5am, I arrive at work on time as I spend twenty to thirty minutes on the road and that’s why I wake up as early as possible but now I leave home by 4am and still don’t get to work on time. It has become worse to the extent that I spend over thirty to forty-five minutes in the gridlock. I still get to work on time though.”
He, however, confirmed the presence of the LASTMA rescue squad in the area and their effort to reduce the traffic congestion but stated that he has not felt it yet.
Alowonle believes that probably after some time, their efforts would be felt. Also, Mr. Timilehin Ogunmefun, spoke with New Telegraph. He said that the diversion affects him as expected but that the effort of the LASTMA squad is felt as they are always seen anytime he passes through the route.
“They are really trying their best on this road. It would have been worse than this. I have been in a traffic situation that lasted for over five hours before and there was nothing we could do.
We sat in the car waiting patiently since we would not leave our vehicles there. At least, this one is not like that and I know it is the handiwork of the LASTMA squad.” He, however, hoped that they would be consistent in what they were doing.
This, he believes, would reduce the current situation. New Telegraph also spoke with some of the road side sellers on their after-demolition experiences and the aftermath of the current blockade on their businesses.
Mrs. Adeola Bolaji, a jeweller said that she is affected by the restriction just like every other person in the area, but that she had no other option than to endure.
According to her, “This construction work would be to the benefit of every one of us, so I don’t think there is a reason to complain yet.
All I know is that if they are able to finish within the stipulated time, we would enjoy it and forget the current inconveniences we are passing through” On the effect of the restriction on sales, she said that those that are passing by are still patronizing her and she is grateful for that.
Mr. Tobiloba Jeremiah, a bread seller in the area stated that the construction has a huge negative effect on his business thereby bringing about a reduction in sales and turn out.
He believes that this is the same with other business men around the area only that he sells perishable goods which can only stand the test of two days before turning stale. He, however, revealed that the road side sellers are opportuned to enter into the site after work hours by 6pm and make sales. “That is the only savior for now because that is where we sell.
As we are here now, passers-by don’t even look at us because this allowance they gave is quite tight for them to tread conveniently so they pass without patronizing.”
Mr. Jeremiah believes that the project execution is for the good of all but he called for immediate delivery as extending the contract more would affect his business gruesomely. Miss Mariam, a young lady in charge of a Provision store (now demolished) said that the new mode of selling she has adopted is not convenient for her at all.
According to her, she had been selling comfortably in the shop without any qualms before the demolition but that the current situation is not so good. Speaking further, Mariam said, “I would love to leave this place and get a shop for myself but where will we get the money to rent with? Shop rents are high now.
This is January and everywhere is dry; everybody wants money.” She also said that the effect of the blockade on her trade is not palatable as she had not sold a thing since the construction work started, though she confirmed the permission by construction workers to allow them sell on the site at night, and that, according to her, is where she makes minimal sales.
Sales Rep for X-right technologies, Mr. Samuel Akiode, in an interactive session with New Telegraph said that the demolition has affected his company sales as it had been on the decline since the beginning of the construction. “Before now, we used to make sales of a million naira per day but since the commencement of this work, we haven’t been able to make up to 500, 000 in a day.”
He lamented that it had been tough stating that if they (business men) knew it would be like this, they would have planned ahead.
Akiode, however, believes that the end result of it all would be to the good of all in the area. Mr. Raheem Saheed, a safety official for HiTech Construction Company spoke with New Telegraph. He believes that the current construction work was given to the company because of a job well done in Ajah.
He said that they were awarded a contract for a period of one year six months which was completed before the stipulated time. “This particular one is slated for thirteen months but I believe we would complete this before the period elapses.” He also revealed that work has not started fully as they are still on day duty but will soon become a day and night duty.
Speaking on the functions of safety officials, he stated that they are to stop people from entering into the enclave as some reluctant passers-by still want to enter there which might result in mishap.
“See the big machines that are being used here, if anything happens that’s trouble. We are here to avoid that. We’ve created diversion to other roads to allow for ease of access for road-users.
By the two sides of this barricade are paths pedestrians can tread easily without using the diversion but for car owners and other vehicle drivers we have opened the Odejobi street at the next junction which links to Iju road to places like Iju, Jungle, Fagba, Ishaga etc.”
On the consistency of the response and rescue unit in the area, Raheem confirmed that the presence of the LASTMA rescue squad is highly. For him, the members of the squad are really doing their job the way they ought to.
Speaking with LASTMA officials on the level of cooperation of commuters and road users, they revealed that the level of cooperation is quite high considering the reaction of road users to the ongoing construction and the resultant diversion. They also stated that there is usually a heavy flow of traffic in the axis in the early hours of the day unlike in the afternoon and early evening which are off-traffic periods.
They however affirmed that the traffic is usually stiff from late evening to early morning as LASTMA officials close by 8pm.
They said that as at early afternoon the places that have huge flow of traffic in the afternoon is in the Jungle, Iju and Fagba areas of the state because people retire towards that place at such a time. Mega cities in the world are best described as the stage where Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest is acted out as the hassle and dazzle of city life seems to be ever persistent.
Therefore, people of mega cities are known for possessing the strong will to survive coupled with the requisite skills and perseverance. All in all, they must eke out a living from something no matter how minimal.
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