1st August, 2011
Master Alabi Oyinlola, 10, a primary five pupil of Community Primary School, Workyard, Mushin, displayed master class to emerge the overall best in the 2011 Be Road Friendly, BRF, competition at the weekend.
The boy from the gangsters city held spell-bound, Governor Babatunde Fashola, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, Commissioner for Transportation, dignitaries and thousands of those present at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, as he was able to convince all that he is the best. He received ovation for his performance.
Though he contested in the primary school category, Opeifa announced that the pupil, whom he nicknamed Professor, actually was the overall best of the 18 participants in the final of the competinomic activities in the area. Some people even sought accommodation in the area and moved in with joy. That same road has now become a source of sadness as no one that visits the area would believe that the stretch is just two years old.
The 200-metre road began to fail just six months after it was constructed by Baschaul Construction Company Limited, which was awarded the contract to build the road that links the community to Ogun State by the Lagos State government.
The construction company began with the dredging of a nearby river and the building of drainage on both sides of the road, raising hope that the flood-prone location was going to become motorable. Residents and road users were unrestrained in their praises for the Babatunde Fashola-led administration over the road which construction began in 2008 and completed in 2009 when asphalt was applied on it. But that same road began to be washed away by the rains that year to the amazement of the residents, while to state Public Works Bureau mobilised to fix the failed portions.
But in 2010, the people finally came to realise how shoddy the project had been handled by the construction company and since then, they have had reservations and continued to grumble.
Now, about 90 per cent of the asphalt has been washed off, while flooding and silt are back in full force and the whole stretch of the road looks like it had been bombed.
With the grotesque-looking craters, driving through the 200-metre stretch is akin to an extreme sport, while residents live in fear of ferocious floods, which leave pains in their trail any time there was a downpour.
â€œThe other night, we were rudely woken up from our sleep when the floods came calling. The water was waist-high and it almost submerged our apartment,â€ recalled Kehinde Bashiru, a resident.
The aged firewood seller and her neighbours have had to erect an embankment to curtail the flood water from further destroying their belongings. That has not been very effective in any way, as many homes are already sinking, while, a few with greater signs of distress, have been abandoned.
â€œWhen the road was even yet to be constructed, it wasnâ€™t this bad for us; we will have been better off without this shoddy job,â€ lamented Quadri Olorunosebi, a young resident of the area.
For a flood-prone road, the construction firm merely dug some narrow and shallow drains on both sides, graded the red earth surface and applied a thin layer of tar and the road work, for which huge sum must have been allocated, was over.
In not too distant a time, the plight of the people of the area will not be different from that of residents plying Isheri-Olofin-Egbeda route. If there is one road that has suffered in the hands of contractors, it is the road that links Igando and Ikotun to Egbeda and Iyana-Ipaja, particularly the stretch from Isheri roundabout to Mosalasi in Alimoso Local Government Area of the State, which has several times been described as an eyesore by both motorists and other road users plying it daily.
The deplorable state of the road, which is supposed to accommodate heavy traffic as a result of the number of vehicles which ply it daily, has been causing untold hardship resulting from traffic gridlock.
One way for anybody to assess the effect of the road on vehicles plying it is to look at those of the Bus Rapid Transit which operate between Iyana-Ipaja, Ikotun and Igando.
When the state government announced that it had awarded the road project to Bulletin Construction Company almost two years ago, residents of the area including road users were excited and praised the effort of the governor. However, their hopes were first dashed when almost one year into the award of the contract, the construction company only scraped the road and further threw the people into hopelessness as nothing worthwhile happened thereafter.
In August last year, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiu Johnson, expressed the state governmentâ€™s unhappiness over the slow pace at which the road project was handled while on an inspection tour of roads in the state. Subsequently, he announced the sack of the contractor and awarded the project to Plycon Construction Company, which was handling the Isheri-Olofin-Ikotun axis of the road. He also promised that the project would be completed within three months from then as it was a Christmas gift from government to the people.
Seven months after that Christmas, the gift seems still far away from the people as staff of Plycon Construction Company only visit the road whenever they feel like according to one of the road users recently.
â€œThey suddenly appear, work a length of the road that is not up to a metre and then disappear again for another three or four months,â€ the motorist complained.
Adeniyi Musa, another motorist, said â€œwe constantly pray that it should not rain, because if it does, then we are doomed because of the terrible traffic problem we would face. The state government should make us know what is happening. We are tired of this kind of inaction by the government.â€
According to him, if the slow pace of work continues, the road, which is nine kilometres, would not be completed by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, checks by P.M. NEWS have revealed a shoddy handling of the project as failing portions are beginning to manifest on the part of the road that has been constructed so far, an indication that the residents of the area and motorists using the road will not be totally free when the road construction is finally completed as a number of pot holes have become obvious on the road. It is even worse around the Idimu Police Station area and the fear now is that if the contractor is not called to order and asked to work to standard, it may only take the next rainy season for the entire road to be washed away and the contractor, and indeed, the state government, will be exposed to ridicule.