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Forgotten Lagosians: Agony of residents of Nigeria's commercial capital (1)

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The slum called Makoko
Photo: Idowu Otegbola

By Paul Dada

Lagos, Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan city has earned several nice-sounding sobriquets. It is called the centre of excellence, a city of aquatic splendour, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre and Nigeria’s commercial capital, among other alluring epithets. The Lagos metropolis can be aptly described as a microcosm of Nigeria because of its cosmopolitan nature.

The 16th Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu just like his predecessors since the country returned to civil rule in 1999,  boasts of giant strides in the metropolis and the outskirts of this strategic part of Nigeria. In the areas of road transportation, waterways, healthcare, education, infrastructure and welfare of the residents, claims of achievements by the Lagos State Government are verifiable.

However, there are Lagosians who say they have not genuinely felt the impact of the government. They are the ones we here call the forgotten Lagosians.

While some communities in Lagos can shower encomiums on the government for bringing development, there are parts of Lagos bedevilled by bad roads, poor drainage channels and lack of educational institutions, among others.

The very bad Lafenwa and Mushin Roads, Isolo

One of the areas where residents are facing hardship is Isolo.  The residents are unhappy about the poor state of Lafenwa Road.

Speaking with  P.M. NEWS  a popular resident of the area, Quadri Oloyede, expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the road. He said the bad shape of the road was affecting the socio-economic life of the residents.

Oloyede said: “The road has been in a terrible state for four years. The road is an access route to Isolo bus stop leading to Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo and Ikotun.”

He also called the attention of the government to other access roads at Amodu Faronbi, Karimu and Adekunle Streets.

“These roads link Osolo Way and connect to the Airport road at Ajao Estate. Please, we need serious government intervention on these roads,” Oloyede added.

The dirty and poor state of Lafenwa Road in Isolo before rainfall

Similarly,  another resident of Isolo, who simply identified himself as Ridwan Adeoye urged the government to speed up the road construction on Mushin Road. Ridwan said the residents of the area were aware that the government had awarded the road to a construction company but the work done so far was not commendable.

He said: “We are aware that the road has been awarded to a construction company but the work is too slow. Last year, the contractors came to construct drainage systems and since then we have not seen any work again. This Mushin road in Isolo leads to many parts of Lagos and people suffer daily to move around due to this bad condition of the roads. The sufferings are just too much. We are seeking speedy solutions from the government.”

The poor roads of Fagba and its environs

Residents of Fagba have also expressed dissatisfaction with the poor state of their roads. P.M. News visited the area after a heavy rainfall which worsened the condition of the roads.

A driver who identified herself as Mrs. Akanji noted that the bad roads in Fagba make it difficult for people living at Abule Egba, Iju Ishaga, Oke-Aro and its environs to move without stress. She averred that the rainy season had made the situation worse even as she urged the government to quickly commence the proposed construction and rehabilitation programme for the roads.

She said:  “Let us be honest, Lagos state government is trying its best to give its residents good roads. So, I am not criticizing the government here.  I am only urging them to quickly come and do what they have promised which I know they will do. But it must not be too late.”

Another resident said the poor state of roads had seriously affected businesses.

“I am aware that Lagos State Government wants to build a bridge in Fagba and also repair the bad roads. In fact, many of the shops along the road have been given a notice to vacate, so I know the government is coming to work here, but as you can see everywhere is currently flooded so we need urgent intervention. We need the government to act fast before things get worse than it is now,” he appealed.

Makoko a popular Lagos slum lacking important facilities

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Although the Baale (community head), Chief Raymond Adekunle Olaiya Akinsemoyi denies this, Makoko remains a popular Lagos slum. That community of over 800, 000 residents, arguably one of the unhealthiest in Nigeria, has through the years been synonymous with poverty, malnutrition and respiratory diseases.

Chief Akinsemoyin in a chat with P.M.NEWS complained that the community lacked secondary schools and a health centre.  “We have primary schools that serve us. We’ve been asking for secondary schools for years but one thing or the other will always come up and they will say that they are stopping it. We’ve not gotten any secondary school in this community except primary schools. We need it.” he said.

The slum called Makoko (Photo: Idowu Otegbola)

He also said: “We’ve allocated space for healthcare centres but we’ve not been able to sit down to make decisions because people always bring political considerations into such things which shouldn’t be and that is why I always disagree with the calibre of people we always bring to represent us at times”.

Also speaking, the Odofin of Makoko, Chief Saheed Abiodun Anifowose. He said:  “There are a lot of challenges in Makoko. One of the major challenges is  lack of government hospital because Makoko is highly dominated by private hospitals. So we need government intervention. Not everyone can afford private hospital bills.

“Let’s look into education. We don’t have any secondary schools in Makoko though we have government primary schools. Most of the children in Makoko go outside Makoko to school in neigbouring kingdoms like Iwaya, Sabo, and Ebute-Metta. We would love the government to intervene.”

Ayobo and its neglected roads

Ayobo, a community of about 800,000 residents on the outskirts of the Lagos metropolis located within the Alimosho Local Government Area can boast of many estates with beautiful buildings. But the whole area lacks good roads. The residents have been grappling with deteriorating road conditions, despite numerous promises from the local government.

The unpalatable situation has seriously impacted local businesses and daily life, particularly during the rainy season, when the roads become nearly impassable.

Residents have expressed their frustration, pointing out that election periods bring empty promises from politicians seeking votes.

A landlord in the area, Adekunle Olaoshebikan, said, “One day, there was heavy rain, and I was present at Honeydew School at Abiola Street. The flooding was so severe that students couldn’t enter the school and parents had to park at the filling station. Cars got damaged. The areas of the road graded get washed away by the rain every time.

“The filling station owner once asked me to help find tippers to fill the eroded areas with sand. We, along with all the landlords on Abiola Street Phase 1 & 2 also went to plead with the government at Alausa to request assistance, and they told us that a contract had been awarded and something would be done; that was during Babatunde Fashola’s tenure. Despite this, in the 18 years I’ve lived here, nothing has been done except the Megida to Alaja Road which wasn’t completed; that was during Bisi Yusuf’s tenure as the Local Government Chairman. After his tenure, Hon. Shakiru Yusuf Adisa, the former chairman and Hon (Mrs.) Bola Shobowale the present chairman promised that something would be done, however, nothing has been done.

“This road connects Igando and leads to Badagry, this could reduce traffic and improve transportation. The road is in terrible condition, and transportation costs double at night. We are not fighting the government but pleading for their help. Even the Megida road, which was completed during Fashola’s tenure, required persistent pleading before anything was done. With another election approaching, the government would need our support, so we hope they fulfil their promises about the road.

“Recently, I saw a tractor trying to fill the area, but heavy rain forced them to stop. I later learned it was funded by the landlords. We are urgently asking the government to address this issue.

“Many business owners report losing customers who prefer to avoid the area due to the poor condition of the roads, which worsen with every rainfall”.

Another resident said: “I’ve lived here for the past five years, and Akinlade Street has remained in this poor condition with nothing done to improve it. This has negatively impacted my business, as people avoid this road due to its bad state,” Mrs Ogunyinka Olufunmi, a shop owner said.

A bad road in Lagos

Another shop owner, Mrs. Moyosade Esther said:  “During the rainy season, we rely on God’s help because the situation becomes especially difficult for us shop owners. The road is already in bad condition but it worsens when it rains. We often have few or no customers because people avoid this area. I’ve been here for over five years, and despite all our pleas, the road has remained in this poor state,”  a shop owner said.

“Since 1999, I’ve been living here and this road has been like this. This is my business and this bad road affects it. Every time rain falls, it’s even worse because the water flows from this street down to the end of Prince Akeem Ogungbangbe Street,” Mrs. Olaniyi, another shop owner said.

The community has seen some minor improvements, such as a recent grading of the roads, but these efforts have not been sufficient. The poor state of the roads has led to severe erosion and flooding, making it difficult for residents to navigate the area and further deterring potential customers.

(To be continued next Saturday 8th June 2024)

Additional reports by Michael Adeshina, Oluwapelumi Oluwayemi and Idowu Otegbola

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