Sanwo-Olu, why are Lagos roads so bad?
Lagos, Nigeria’s most important mega-city, prides itself as the country’s Center of Excellence, but the poor state of its roads tells a different story. From the sprawling Mainland settlements to the business district of the Island and Lekki Peninsula, home to millions of residents and local and global businesses, the glitz of Lagos contrasts sharply with its dilapidated and poorly maintained major and inner city roads, which are so bad you would think you are commuting on the remote dirt roads of Nigeria’s hinterlands.
As a resident and commuter on Lagos roads every day of the week, I am affected in no small way by the failure of the Sanwo-Olu and bad Lagos roadsadministration to fix the public amenities that directly impact the lives and safety of residents, including businesses that pay their taxes. In recent times, commuting in Lagos has become a dangerous, hazardous and harrowing experience.
Everywhere you turn in this city, you are confronted by poorly maintained roads with huge craters that are so large you wonder why fixing them is such a big deal in a state that controls a huge Internally generated revenue and a public works department that seems to exist in name only.
Lagos is also faced with the menace of abandoned road projects. On the Lekki-Ajah axis, residents continue to suffer the insensitivity of those saddled with the responsibility of providing this basic infrastructure. On the Sangotedo and Lekki axis, the chaos of bad roads caused by haphazard road construction is a nightmare of daily traffic.
The contractors are either confused or insensitive. It is absolute chaos out there. Many portions of the roads are dug up and abandoned. For several months, the road was abandoned with major roadblocks and diversions. The rainy season has now worsened the plight of residents of that part of Lagos.
In 2020, when Sanwo-Olu flagged off the construction of what was termed “The Regional Road” in the Lekki axis, the road, which includes an interchange from the Victoria Garden City Junction on the Lekki – Epe Expressway to Freedom Way in Lekki Phase 1, was due to be completed within an estimated period of 24 months. The project raised the hope of residents that the perennial traffic conundrum on the Lekki-Ajah axis would improve significantly. Today, the regional road has been abandoned. Contractors have left the site.
What is left is a deserted site as weeds have taken over. Hoodlums also use the place as a hideout, terrorising residents. Needless to say the entire Lekki-Epe Expressway is in a state of disrepair. The poor state of the expressway, riddled with potholes, contributes to the traffic witnessed daily by motorists and commuters.
The Lekki-Epe Expressway started dilapidating after the 2020 EndSARS uprising when the LCC stopped collecting tolls on the expressway. The street lamps have refused to work, and the entire stretch is in total darkness at night. The story is the same in other parts of the city.
Recently, the Third Mainland Bridge was closed for two Sundays in September for repairs by the state government. But this was not done until concerned Lagosians raised alarm about the danger of commuting on a bridge that linked the major settlements of the state — Mainland and Island.
Commuting on the Third Mainland Bridge has become one of the most dangerous endeavours in Lagos. Large, crater-like potholes can be found everywhere on the bridge, making driving very risky. At every major point, motorists have to slow down to avoid running into the potholes. But even that comes with the risk of being rammed from behind by oncoming vehicles.
On Lagos Mainland, the major roads are also in bad condition, with potholes making the roads unnavigable. The decrepit state of the inner city roads in Lagos is also embarrassing for a state that claims to be Nigeria’s prime urban centre. Ordinarily, the responsibility of fixing inner city roads belongs to the local government development areas (LCDAs).
However, the state government has usurped the role of LCDAs that they have become so useless and cannot perform their constitutional role. A visit to many LCDAs in Lagos paints a sorry state of governance at the level of local government in Lagos. Many inner roads in Lagos were constructed by the Jakande administration in the 1980s. Those roads have remained dilapidated due to wear and tear for so many years.
Every time I commute on the pothole-riddled Lagos roads or its unnavigable inner city routes, I often wonder about the role of the government and the agencies saddled with the responsibility of carrying the function of providing infrastructure as basic as fixing or filling the potholes. What is happening is a failure of governance.
Why, for example, is it such a difficult task to embark on periodic repair and asphalting of roads in Lagos, given the importance of this city? Why should any part of Lagos still look like a throwback to the stone age with bad roads? Go to some parts of Lagos, and you would hardly believe you are in Lagos. Why do the state government and its public works department (PWD) have to wait for roads to go bad before carrying out repairs?
The poor state of Lagos roads and the abandoned road projects, such as the regional bridge bordering VGC, say a lot about governance in Lagos. Lagos residents who pay their taxes and other levies imposed by the government are made to bear the brunt of the state’s inaction and insensitivity to their plight.
For example, the governor needs to visit the Sangotedo axis of Ajah to see first the suffering of the people of that area. The untold hardship as a result of dug and abandoned road construction is a nightmare. This is the same route that leads to the Lekki-Free Trade Zone and Deep Sea Port.
He should, as a matter of urgency, kickstart all the abandoned road projects in the state, including the regional road on the Lekki axis. The time to act is now to save Lagos roads from total collapse and dilapidation. The current state of Lagos roads is an embarrassment to its so-called Centre of Excellence mantra.
This is even more so given the enviable position of Lagos as the gateway city to the global community. This city’s infrastructure should be a showpiece. The state and other agencies of government responsible for maintaining infrastructure such as roads, street lamps and other things that contribute to decent urban infrastructure should be alive to their responsibilities. Sanwo-Olu should work harder. Sanwo-Olu should be doing much better.