Governor Ambode Expands Lagos frontiers with projects
All over Lagos, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has his imprimatur on one project or the other. To mark Lagos at 50 and his forthcoming second anniversary in office, he opened bridges and roads at Julius Berger, around the Lagos-Ogun boundary; Abule-Egba and Ajah. He says he won’t stop until Lagos gets facilities that befit its status as a megacity.
Julius Berger, a major transit and entry point into Lagos, has suddenly turned into a tourist attraction. Those who saw the masterpiece are awed by the breath-taking beauty that Ojodu Berger has suddenly become.
Proudly hanging on the walls of the multiple pedestrian bridges are banners, welcoming travellers to Lagos, even as the one on the exit carriageway bids them goodbye from the city state.
Only yesterday, what has now become a starry edifice was a rusty, muddy terrain that puts first time travellers off on their first contact with Lagos, Africa’s and blackman’s fastest growing megacity.
Since Tuesday, Berger has recorded more visitors, wanting to see Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s signature project that has taken Lagos closer to becoming a truly urbanised megapolis.
Motorists could not but marvel at the innovative solution that has taken care of the traffic gridlock at the old Ojodu Berger. Ordinarily, a shuttle from Agege or Ogba, to Berger either to connect homes or interstate buses that had turned the place to a hub, could take a minimum of two hours. Places like Olowo-Ira Akute and other environs take longer. Normally, without traffic, the route shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, from Ogba, or 30 minutes from Akute and such suburbs. But at peak periods, morning or night, Berger, loses its peace and innocence and become nightmarish to all classes of road users.
Besides heavy traffic snare that made the whole area extremely notorious, Berger has also evolved into one of the most unsafe road hub in the state. Lives are lost in reckless abandon to countless accidents most of which go unreported, even as successive governments seem to lack either the will, or the initiative, or both to resolve the traffic crisis at the area. Residents of the area practically have lost a redeeming hope for the area.
But that was to change at the assumption of Akinwunmi Ambode as Governor. When he promised to turn the face of the place round during a tour of the area last year March, many doubted his resolve. Even those who believed him never anticipated the scale of the project. Both categories of people could only give kudos to the governor for giving the people of the area who did not fall into the super-rich or the blue-blooded business executive a world class project.
What Ambode handed over to the people last Tuesday, was a new Ojodu Berger that emerged from the rubbles of the ugly past of the area.
Ambode was also proud to showcase the project as one of the home grown solutions delivered by CCECC, the Chinese construction corporation under the supervision of local experts in the Ministry of Works. Undoubtedly, the Berger project has started changing the narrative of governance and the competence of local expertise in the public sector of the economy.
Harping on the “thinking local acting global mantra at the opening of the project, Ambode said: “This project is the product of our innovative team of engineers, architects and town planners who have worked hard to create an innovative solution to tackle the challenges of this axis. I say a big thank you to the staff of the Lagos State Ministry of Works and the contractors – CCECC Nigeria Limited for a job well done.”
That was Ambode at his candid’s best. But he did assure that the transformation will not stop with the Berger transformation.
“We are working to create solutions to traffic congestion in every part of the state. If your neighbourhood or community is experiencing traffic challenges, be assured that we will soon be there.”
Ambode’s intractable headache has remained changing the traffic narrative by ameliorating it.
“What we set out to achieve with this project, Ambode told the ecstatic residents’ was to ensure smooth flow of traffic along the express, safeguard the lives of our people who had to run across the express and project the image of a truly global city to our visitors. Today, we are delighted that we have not only succeeded in transforming the landscape of this axis but with the slip road, laybys and pedestrian bridge, we have given a new and pleasant experience to all entering and exiting our State,” the governor added.
If what was experienced at Ojodu Berger was ecstatic, the reception that Ambode got at Ajah and Abule-Egba where he delivered a flyover bridge named Jubilee Bridge and a number of critical roads on Wednesday were electrifying.
To relieve motorists of the nightmare that the Ajah junction has turned into, the Ambode government introduced a flyover at the junction, and constructed Freedom and Admiralty roads, to ease traffic demographics along the Ajah-Lekki-Epe road.
The multiple projects were to further take advantage of the junction rehabilitation that had seen the removal of all the nine roundabouts along that arterial road that the government hinted may soon become the new Mecca in the state as a result of the new developments that would evolve due to the Free Trade Zone, deep sea port and new airport projects already taking a firm root in the axis.
The Lekki-Epe road, The Nation had reliably learnt, were initially meant to accommodate 500,000 vehicles monthly. But at the wake of expansion of the area occasioned by various housing estates and other businesses sprouting on that axis, vehicle count moved from 500,000 to 2.5 million vehicles monthly and an average of 70,000 weekly.
With the exponential increase in vehicular density, the original designs, which accommodated roundabouts became dysfunctional, thereby constituting more Cogs and traffic gridlocks rather than ameliorating same. But the removal of all the roundabouts, by the Ambode government had, like magic brought sanity to the road.
Residents until now have resigned to fate. Their happiness was summed up by frontline human rights activist and lawyer Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who took to Facebook on Thursday praising Governor Ambode for working in the interest of the people.
Adegboruwa, who said he settled down in the axis since 2006, said: “The only access roads then was more of a canal and even with a jeep, you won’t last the whole year before you change your car. When it became unbearable, I had to ove my family out of that axis. But the good news is that the part of Lekki Phase 1, linking Itedo that we used to tag Admiralty flood has been constructed. This is a testimony I cannot ignore coming from the Lagos State Government led by Ambode. How I wish that all roads in Lagos and indeed Nigeria can be this way and truly it is possible with the right leadership.”
That Adegboruwa is now singing the praises of the government is the best thing that could happen to this administration. A vitriolic critic of the last two administrations in the state, Adegboruwa at a time, mobilised opposition to the LCC tolling initiative on Lekki-Epe corridor, took the government to court for same, insisting that a toll regime on an existing road is high handed and extortionist.
Another happy resident, Belinda Chinwe, who described the traffic pattern in the axis as crazy, said the two roads, Admiralty roads and Freedom roads would drive sanity to the axis. “This is a very nice initiative and we hope this would be taken to other areas in order to fully change the of in this area. The bridge is 780 metres long and it was fully delivered with drainage ducts, street lights and pedestrian walkway.
The Ajah Jubilee Bridge, according to the governor, is meant to bring relief and reduce travel time within the axis by about 50 percent of what it hitherto was, while the two roads are strategic as it would provide easy access to areas like Itedo, Eti-osa, Lekki and Epe.
Ambode said the Freedom road will open access to the Orange Island and Lekki Foreshore and would be a precursor to the commencement of construction of the regional road, an eight kilometre long initiative that would be executed on a Public Private Partnership initiative and would further open up the axis as a truly liveable metropolis.
He said the bridge would eliminate the traffic jam usually experienced on the road while the Freedom and Admiralty roads, which he also commissioned, would provide an alternative route to the Lekki/Ikoyi Bridge, thereby easing traffic at Lekki Phase 1.
“We had to give this project priority because of its strategic importance to the economic growth of the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Ibeju-Lekki-Epe axis. This axis will play a key role in the future prosperity of Lagos State as the home to many multi-billion naira private investments in the Lekki Free Trade Zone as well as the upcoming seaport and airport.
“As a government, we are irrevocably committed to making Lagos State an investment haven and we have made it a duty to put in place top class infrastructure that will facilitate movement of people, goods and materials. We are confident that these initiatives will boost commercial activities in this axis, support economic growth and significantly reduce travel time as well as other costs associated with traffic challenges,” the governor said.
Beyond the bridge, Ambode said his administration was already looking into activating the Badore jetty in its bid to begin reforms in the state’s water transportation.
Government will create a bus route from Badore to Langbasa and Ajah axis, rehabilitate Badore Road and also create alternative routes through Oke-Ira to the Epe expressway, while the slip road which motorists used while the construction of the bridge lasted, would be closed to accommodate a new bus terminal.
The government in partnership with the private sector would commence construction of eight km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) from Freedom Road.
At Abule Egba, Ambode, said the bridge was a result of the government’s engagements with the people of the axis and his administration’s desire to make life easier and better for the people.
“This bridge is one of the interventions we embarked upon to ensure free flow of traffic, stimulate commercial activities and create opportunities for our people.
“Lagos means business and today, Abule-Egba is open for business. This bridge signposts the beginning of a new era of development that would enhance the standard of living of the people in this axis with the provision of this infrastructure,” Governor Ambode said.
The governor said the construction of the bridge was the beginning of a process to transform the axis to the new economic hub of the state, assuring that the ongoing Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) lane from Oshodi to Abule Egba would be followed by another BRT lane from Abule Egba to Ogun State border.
Also to be repaired are all the adjoining roads disrupted in the course of the construction of the bridge, while a shopping mall would also be constructed opposite the Oke-Odo Market to further boost economic activities.
The Epe axis of the state also got Ambode attention in what has become a bouquet meant to address the infrastructure deficit and move Lagos towards a smarter city-state.
At Epe, Ambode said as he delivers on the completed projects, work has started on the second phase of road expansion within Epe and its environs.
“We have commenced the Phase II of this project from Oke-Oso-Araga-Poka and Epe-Poka-Mojoda road while the proposed Phase III will take us from Mojoda to Ijebu-Ode junction with the collaboration of Ogun State government.” He also disclosed of plans to deliver eight-lane Ikorodu-Agbowa-Itoikin-Ijebu-Ode and Itoikin Epe projects through a PPP model. These roads, according to him, will provide alternative to Lekki-Eti-Osa-Epe expressway which will witness increased vehicular movements occasioned by the industrial activities at the Lekki Free Trade Zone.
As Ambode himself agreed, these bouquet of projects, which cut across all senatorial districts would open the road for a more prosperous state. But beyond that, as many of his silent admirers seem to have agreed, they are strong enough to silence any opposition and seal the “silent achiever’s dream of a second term.