About three years ago, officials of the Lagos State Government flooded the Mile-Ikorodu Road, marking buildings that would give way for the six-lane road redevelopment project. No resident on the corridor then believed that the state government was serious about the project, which it said, was the first of its kind in the state.
Consequently, the project sparked concern and fear in different quarters.
For those whose buildings were affected, they feared that they might not be duly compensated for their properties. For the traders at the Oba Ayangburen Market, their concern was that once they were displaced, the state government would not provide alternative for them.
Likewise, commercial transport operators never thought they could be properly integrated into the programme of the state government. And for the communities, their residents feared that when fully implemented, they might be totally shut in, thereby creating a crisis of commuting effectively into and out of their residence.
Inundated with diverse complaints, the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) under the headship of Dr. Dayo Mobereola initiated a forum of stakeholders and concerned interests. The forum was put in place to sort out all areas of concern and worry. Even before the road redevelopment started, the stakeholders' forum had kicked amid aggression and agitation from those who doubted the intention of the government.
Sooner, after the forum of stakeholders started meeting quarterly, their doubt suddenly dissipated. Likewise, their agitation quickly faded off. And their aggression paved way for concession. One after the other, therefore, Mobereola said all areas of concern the stakeholders expressed at different meetings were duly addressed, thereby giving room for the execution of the 13.5 kilometre road project.
Apparently, today, all the residents, who expressed grave concerns when the 13.5 kilometre road project started in September 2012, have entirely different stories to share. Unlike other climes, the original design of the road was adjusted several times to accommodate the demand from communities and stakeholders.
Aside, traders were properly relocated and resettled from the Oba Ayangburen Market to a modern market, which LAMATA conceived and built for them. Also, the communities had been provided with safe entry and exit routes and drainage channels structurally constructed to save homes from being inundated. But pupils and students too now have foot bridges at all major bus stops to guarantee their safety and security.
Apparently, the road project had redefined the fortune and future, which the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had pledged to make a choice home for Lagos residents and a safe haven for investments. Ambode's pledge is understandable, because Ikorodu still has relatively large expanse of land for development.
Already, according to Mobereola, the project has been 98 per cent completed. The managing director pointed out that the construction firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Cooperation (CCECC), had started putting finishing touches on critical accessories that were constructed to ensure effective bus operation and for the safety of pedestrians.
Mobereola, quickly, reflected on the condition before the state government decided to redevelop it. He explained that the federal government was the original owner of the road. Even when the road became almost impassable, the managing director said the federal government under different administration did not show any concern.
Before its redevelopment, the managing director explained that the road formerly consisted of a two-lane dual carriageway linking Mile 12 to Ikorodu, the state's fastest suburb. He noted that the road project "includes major civil works and provision of complimentary BRT infrastructure. The corridor covers a distance of about 13.5 kilometres. The width of the existing road is a 7.5 metres, with central median of 2 metres width."
He, thus, said the state government decided "to take up the reconstruction of the federal government owned road 50 years after it was built due to the menace of gridlocks and deathtraps. Commuters always groan due to the deplorable condition of the road, spending hours to get to their destination that ordinarily should have taken 45 minutes. Such was the condition of the road before the government decided to rebuild the road."
At least, the road project gulped about N29 billion. But the cost covered all critical fittings that came with the redevelopment project. Mobereola noted that all the accessories "have been completed and the project will be ready by next month." He said the projected was is designed "to accommodate bus rapid transit (BRT) route for mass transportation of commuters. The BRT is an extension from the Ikorodu road network."
He added that the BRT "is designed to be implemented as median running with bilateral bus stations configurations linked to pedestrian bridges for pedestrian access. Two new lanes will be constructed to accommodate the new BRT system. The Mile 12 - Ikorodu Town BRT Extension is tagged BRT Classic where the BRT lanes will run in the middle without any interference from other traffic except at designated new u-turn points."
The managing director added that the new road "has about 15 bus stations-seven on either side with one at Mile 12. The stations are integrated with foot bridges. The bus stations/shelters are located at Mile 12, Owode Onirin, Owode, Irawo, Majidun, Ogolonto, Agric and Aruna. The road comes with 12 new u-turn points to and from Ikorodu Town and also three terminals located at Mile 12, Agric and Ikorodu."
Now that the road is ready for public use, Moberola said the new road offers lots of benefits, but efforts must be made by the users to preserve it, while the government will not rest on its oars toward making life better for the residents.
The benefits according to him include provision of affordable transportation, better road network, public transport with faster and reliable journey times, clean and better quality buses, reduction in waiting time for buses with limited queues through improved bus frequencies and the provision of a safe and secured transportation system.
Aside, he explained that the road offers the benefit of a regulated transport system where public queries and complaints can be duly addressed, reduction in the number of unregulated public transport vehicles along the corridor and roadside activities that often slows down traffic will be effectively prevented.
The managing director noted that there would also be improved lifestyle of people and businesses along the corridor due "to sharp reduction in travel time. It offers good road networks to recreation centres around the state, especially in Epe and Lekki. The project has already created over 2,000 direct jobs and 5, 000 indirect jobs."
But at a recent stakeholders' meeting in Ikorodu, LAMATA's Director of Transport Services, Mr. Gbenga Dairo acknowledged that the bus depots for the BRT "is ready and that the entire project is almost 100 completed." He, therefore, pointed out that about 400 buses "will be deployed immediately when the BRT scheme takes off in July 2015. It is our project that at least, 160, 000 passengers will commute on the BRT corridor daily basis."
The director observed the road redevelopment posed much challenge. Likewise, he said, daily use of the road will come with greater challenges. He, thus, dwelt on the need to use the public infrastructure with utmost care. He warned traders and transporters to keep away from the walkways. The walkways are not meant for parking or hawking.
Aside, the director warned the traders "to desist from displaying merchandise; repairing vehicles or motorcycles and selling furniture on the walkways. The residents should desist from cutting the road while commercial motorcycle operators should desist from plying the route in line with the Lagos Road Traffic law, 2012."
Dairo, also, frowned at the habit of turning bus shelters, terminals and stations to homes. He said the facilities "are meant for picking and dropping passengers and not for sleeping areas." He added that loading and unloading of goods "are not allowed on the main carriageway. Hawking and selling are prohibited in and around bus shelters and the BRT terminals."
He advised the motorists "to obey all traffic signs and stop changing lanes recklessly. Motorists should allow pedestrians to cross at designated crossing points without harassing them and desist from carrying out vehicle repairs on the carriageway because if oil spills on the asphalt, it will damage the road and reduce its lifespan."
On this note, the Administrator of the Kick against Indiscipline (KAI), Mr. Deji Badejo advocated voluntary compliance with maintenance regulations, which he said, had been worked out to ensure proper upkeep of the road. He said that was the aspect the KAI brigade would come in and ensure that the road "is not unduly tampered with or illegally damaged"
He said the KAI brigade "will ensure that traders are kept away from the walkways or bus terminal and the new road is not turned to place like Oshodi and Ketu where traders converted the roads to markets. The government has purchased 100 new vehicles for KAI to carry out its enforcement activities on the Mile 12-Ikorodu road.
"The road project will be handed over to the communities and law enforcement agencies. Already, we have worked out how to manage the road effectively. We are going to use restriction tapes to mark out some areas. We will also use restriction signs to indicate where traders, transporters and pedestrians can use or not.
"The state government has already purchased 100 KIA RIO vehicles for both KAI and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). Fifty of the vehicles have been distributed already to KAI brigade across the state. The vehicles came with a lot of functions that enable the take photographs at short or long distances. Consequently, the vehicles can take photographs of any violation of environmental regulations and traffic rules."
In a response, the Chairman, Ayangburen Meat Sellers Association, Mr. Suarau Adebayo said the people of Ikorodu "had forgot the pains of travelling on the road. We are happy that the state government has fulfilled its promises but the new challenge is the allocation of the stalls to the affected traders. The stall cannot accommodate the entire traders.
"For instance, the meat sellers are about 100. The reason was that some have misplaced their relocation cards. The cards were distributed before the demolition of the market. But the nonchalant attitude of the traders caused many to either misplace it or failed to collect it from the officials who brought it to the market for distributions.
"Our market was demolished in order to expand the road. The new market is good and we are ready to relocate to the new structure. It has not been easy since the demolition of the market but today, the state government has put smile on our face. We are happy they have fulfilled their promises. The place was constructed to accommodate the displaced traders."
Mobereola, thus, said the completion of the road project was a rare milestone. He added that managing the milestone would effective management. Also, the managing director said it "will require a sustained synergy among all stakeholders. It will require the strategic operation of all law enforcement agents across the state. In all, there is need to voluntarily comply with all extant rules in the state namely traffic law and environmental law among others.