© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
REPORT: The forgotten roads of Ojo, home to Nigeria’s largest electronics market
Mujeeb Abdulwasiu (Student Reporter)
FOR Abdulwasiu Hassan, a phone repairman, going to and fro his workplace at Alaba International Market each day is a nightmare. Though the distance to cover to his destination should not be more than 20minutes drive, Hassan usually ends up spending one and a half hour heading to work or returning home.
On some occasions, he finds it difficult to get commercial vehicles that will convey him to the market, because most commercial vehicles avoid the road networks in that neighborhood —Okokomaiko, Ajangbadi, and Sabo communities —all in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Sometimes, Hassan has to trek back home from work because of the traffic gridlock caused by the many bad portions on the road. .
“My experience on that road has been very tough and bad,” he laments.
“Government needs to attend to us; we are suffering on that Alaba road. Normally, going to my place of work from home shouldn’t take up to 20 minutes but because of that bad road, it always takes up to one and a half hours to get there.”
His daily experience sums up what those who reside and operate businesses in Okokomaiko, Ajangbadi, and Sabo communities, have for many years contended with. They have been living in great discomfort due to poor road networks linking the neighbourhoods.
These communities play host to Nigeria’s largest electronics market — Alaba International Market, yet, the lack of government intervention has put residents, commuters and motorists in avoidable distress. They often have to trek far distances because of the unpleasant state of the roads especially during the rainy season.
Findings revealed that the major roads linking the communities together, Aka, Okoko, Alaba,Shibiri, and Ilogbo,Abule roads are dotted with gaping and life-threatening craters.
Ajisafe Taibat, a trader who lives in Ilemba Awori community but had her shop situated along Shibiri road, revealed how she has lost many of her customers as a result of the poor state of the roads. She does not hope to see any intervention from the government any time soon.
“Do I even need to say anything, these governments will not come to our aid even if I do,” a frustrated Taibat said.
“I have encountered many difficulties on that road, especially when returning from the market. There are days that I will have to trek with goods on my head because I won’t want to delay customers at the shop and bus drivers will refuse to pass through the deep potholes. At the end of the day, I still lost those customers,” she recalled.
Another resident, Abdulmujib Mustapha, who has been a commuter on the road for over 15 years, said the roads in question are arguably some of the worst in the state.
“If there should be a competition for bad roads in Lagos, the Sabo and Koko will most likely outshine very many across the state, Mustapha argued.
“The large potholes in between Ajangbadi, Iyana, Sabo, Okoko road and the bus stop along the road reflect the terrible fate that has befallen those roads,” he said.
“On days when that portion of the road is flooded as a result of downpours, vehicular movement stops at the waterlogged spot, rendering many passengers stranded for hours.”
Speaking about the indifferent attitude of the Lagos State Government, he said the state government has been found wanting in proper project supervision and this encourages contractors executing those projects to do so using low-quality materials.
“The state government doesn’t really supervise the construction of these roads or ensure that the right combination of materials is used for road construction,” Mustapha noted. “Some state officials receive kickbacks from contractors to deliver poor quality roads. And on and on the cycle goes,” he alleges.
Motorists lament damages to vehicles
Jibril Uzamat, a motorist who plies the Alaba-Shibiri road everyday, narrated his ordeal in the last few months. At the moment, Uzamat visits mechanic workshops often because his vehicle has suffered a lot of damages due to bad roads.
“Can you imagine I visit the mechanic workshop almost every day to fix my vehicle because if I don’t, I won’t be able to work again?” he said. “The bad road damages our vehicle, the government seriously needs to attend to us.”
“Apart from this, we do encounter losses as a result of traffic which makes us waste many hours on that road daily. We need a roundabout at the Alaba bus stop for ease of driving so that the traffic will reduce,” he appealed.
Another commercial driver who plies the Okoko-Aka road, who identified himself simply as Musiliu out of the fear of being sanctioned, also complained about the toll the roads are taking on his car.
“I wouldn’t want to say anything, let me keep quiet because it is better for me to keep managing the little I am able to do on that road than to lose it all,” he said reluctantly.
“All I know is that the road is damaging our vehicles. Look at my vehicle over there, it was just a few months ago I repaired and painted it, but the road has condemned it now,” he said pointing at a small cab parked by the roadside.
Richard Johnson, an elderly driver who lives around Ilemba Awori community, was walking along the road when he met with this reporter. He had just returned from a mechanic workshop.
According to him, the infrastructural challenges posed by Alaba, Shibiri and Okoko, Aka roads have left him without work since December 2019.
“When we look at the detriment the roads have caused, you realise that many drivers are now at home because they can’t afford to be visiting mechanic workshops everyday,” he said.
“For example now, I have been at home since last December because my bosses refused to give me their LT buses; many of could not afford their vehicles to be damaged by the bad portions all over the roads. As you can see, I am just coming from the mechanic because the one I hired just a few days ago needed to be repaired,” Johnson added.
Are the authorities showing concerns?
Findings revealed that the local government authority has at various times showed little or no concern in addressing the communities’ plights.
According to residents of the communities, the little repairs carried out on the roads were as a result of donations by philanthropists within the communities.
Rosulu Idowu, the Chairman of Ojo Local Government was , not available for comments when contacted. He did not respond to enquiries as several phone calls and texts sent to his telephone line by this reporter were not answered as at the time of filing this report.