By Olasunkanmi Akoni
IN practical demonstration of the unflinching commitment of the present administration in Lagos State, led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode towards implementing the Strategic Transport Master Plan, STMP, in January 2017, the Lagos State Government, through Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, disclosed that the 14 kilometre Oshodi-Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, corridor, project, construction of which commenced in first week of February, would be completed in 20 months.
According to government, STMP is aimed at delivering an effective, efficient, safe and affordable multi-modal integrated public transportation system in the state. Elegushi said, “I want to assure you that the construction of the project is programmed to last 20 months and adequate plans and arrangements have been made to minimize inconveniences during the construction period.” Also on completion, the corridor which is unquestionably one of the busiest bus corridors in West Africa, with over 5,500 buses moving passengers per day, is expected to reduce drastically the travel time along the corridor from the erstwhile one hour 30 minutes to a maximum of 45 minutes.
LAMATA boss, who added that the project would be executed in four phases, said, “It is a critical link for millions of people who live in Alimosho, Egbeda, Iyana-Ipaja, Abule-Egba, Ijaiye, up to Toll Gate into Sango Otta in Ogun State. Currently, the corridor is highly congested due to high presence of unregulated, uncomfortable, unsafe and unreliable public bus transportation services, with indiscriminate picking and dropping off of passengers.”
Features of the project: The features of the project include, an uninterrupted median running BRT service (the BRT lanes will be in the middle), 11 pedestrian bridges across the corridor, 16 bus stops, one bus depot and two terminals at Iyana Ipaja and Abule-Egba.
Flood takes over road: Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMET, had predicted a heavy rainfall in 2017, with attendant flooding in some of parts of the country, including Lagos. The Director-General, NiMet, Prof. Sani Machi, disclosed that the onset date of the growing season was predicted to run from February 25 over the coastal states to June 16 in the far north.
According to him, cessation dates of the rains in 2017 are predicted to start from October 4 in the extreme north and reach the coastal states around December 25. “Early cessation of rainfall is predicted in many parts of the north and inland of the south-east during 2017. Extended rains of three to eight days are predicted for areas in and around Adamawa, Ogun, Edo, Niger Delta and low-lying areas such as Lagos. The cessation dates from of the growing season are predicted to extend well into December over most coastal states of the Niger Delta,” he said.
Motorists and residents had a bitter pill to swallow with the predicted heavy rainfalls expected this season, when they were stranded for hours in many parts of the state following heavy downpour. The worst hit areas included, Lagos-Abeokuta, Ikeja, Alimosho and Lagos Island, as the roads were practically shut off by flooding. Some vehicles broke down in the flood, while those that could not manage it got stuck. This resulted in heavy traffic gridlock.
Residents and motorists who normally ply the Lagos – Abeokuta Road blamed the heavy flooding on the on-going construction of BRT corridor, which they claimed had blocked most of the drainage channels, along the road. Mr. Taiwo Ajayi, a Banker in Ikeja, blamed the state government for not providing the water channels, to take care of the earlier ones which had been distorted due to the on-going construction of the BRT route in the area.
Also, Mrs Johnson Ebere, a business woman in Oshodi, accused the state government and its agents of “insensitivity.” Her words, “They said this construction is for the good of the masses but what they have caused is actually killing the masses. They are just being insensitive to the plights of residents. Before the commencement of this project, we have been plying this road and at no period has the flood got to this magnitude. It only shows that the heavy flooding on Monday, was due to the on-going work by the contractor handling the BRT corridor.
“We hereby, appeal to Ambode to intervene by calling the contractor to order to find a means of reducing flood along the axis. You can imagine what would have happened if the rain lasted for long hours into the day.”
However, Public Affairs Coordinator, LAMATA, Kola Ojelabi, when contacted, dismissed the allegations against government, saying the flooding on the road was not as a result of construction work. He said, “I am not aware of any drainage blockade because of any construction on the highway. What is going on in the axis is definitely to improve movement of transportation.
The heavy flooding witnessed along Lagos -Abeokuta road is not as a result of the on-going construction of BRT corridor in the axis. Infact, when the project is completed it will improve the drainage system. There was no particular point where the contractor has impeded the flow of flood water or channels. Rather, I think what happened was a result of blocked drainages due to indiscriminate refuse dumps.
“The flood brought along with all sort of garbage, including, plastic bottles, nylon, used tyres, among others unto the road. All, I can say now is that residents should be patient with the administration of Governor Ambode who is doing everything possible to alleviate the plight of the masses through various transformation projects on-going. There is no gain without pain. I can assure you that the project will not be delayed beyond the expected completion date.”
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