By Raji Rasak
Thousands of Badagry residents and some tertiary institution students on Monday defied a heavy rainfall to protest the deplorable state of the Lagos/Badagry Expressway, describing it as a road of anguish and pain.
The Badagry Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who monitored the protest reported that residents blocked the popular Badagry roundabout for hours earlier in the day.
They stormed the roundabout with placards bearing various inscriptions such as: “Fix Lagos/Badagry Expressway. Our businesses are dying’’; “Bad Road, Our pregnant women are having miscarriages’’; and “We are not at war, Remove checkpoints on our road’’; “We are losing man hours.’’
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, the President, Women Arise Initiative, who led the protest, said the road had become a route of anguish and pain.
“We are in the rain today not because we like it, but because we want to make some demands; we are moving from Badagry to Mile 2.
“We are here because the Lagos/Badagry Express road has continued to serve as a route of anguish and pain; the state of the road is deplorable.’’
“We are seeing our economy ruined, we have seen women having still births; We have seen our road becoming a road to the hospital and the mortuary, the time has come for us to rise up in unity.’’
“Time has come for us to demand that the government should fix the Lagos/Badagry road; we are here to demand that the road that leads to the economic hub of the ECOWAS sub-region be fixed.’’
“We have endured this for a very long time, and tourism in Badagry is now at its lowest ebb; we know the concession started in 2009 and several years after the road was awarded, nothing serious has been done about it,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Comrade Bokoh Oluwole. the Chairman, Gunuvi Rights Initiative of Nigeria (GRIN), said that they were protesting because of the bad state of the road.
“This is the first major international road in Nigeria, and the road is Trunk A. It is an international route, an international haulage route. This road serves industrial hubs, and government generates a lot of income from the route.’’
“This road construction began during the Babatunde Fashola administration and it has been on for over a decade and people are dying. At my bus stop, we lost two kids recently because of the nature of the road and some users are sometimes compelled to ply one-way.
“Those who go to Lagos to buy goods from Badagry now find it difficult to transport their wares without incurring losses.
“How long shall we continue to suffer like this, while the government pretends as if all is well? We just can’t continue like this,’’ he said.
Mr Sesan Akingbade, a commuter, said that the Federal Government had forsaken the people plying the road, adding that its deplorable state was making life difficult for Badagry residents and other users.
“I work in Ikeja, so I go through Igbo-Elerin everyday. I spend over N1, 500 going to and returning from work and do over five hours in transit daily. It is gradually telling on my health.
“It is very unfortunate that an international highway will be in such state.
“Any serious work on this road will take more than two years. The federal government should, therefore, commence work on the road in earnest, as a matter of urgency,’’ he said.
Mr Dele Ilori, a commercial vehicle driver, noted that the road had become a death trap.
NAN reports that protesters marched to Ijanikin, where they were joined by students of the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, while students of Lagos State University (LASU) also joined at the Igbo-Elerin junction.
The expressway was locked down by the protest for over two hours.
The Lagos/Badagry Expressway is the local name for the Nigerian section of the Trans-West African Coastal Highway which connects Lagos, Nigeria with Dakar, Senegal.
Extensive reconstruction of the Lagos portion of the 61 kilometre, 10-lane expressway began in 2010, but lingering funding problems have compelled the contractors, the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), to stop work.