BIG QUESTION FOR THE WORKS MINISTER: WHEN WILL YOU FIX OSHODI-APAPA EXPRESSWAY?
There is a highway in Lagos through which millions of people literally travel to hell everyday. That road is the collapsed Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, a highway linking the two busiest seaports in West Africa with one of the most strategic airports on the African continent.
The expressway leads to Tin Can and Wharf seaports, two domestic airports and one international airport, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. But then, the road has been abandoned by successive governments, which usually paid lip service to its maintenance.
In fact to most Nigerians, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) is an organisation that has totally failed just as the roads it is meant to maintain. Nowhere is its ineptitude so pronounced as on the highway, leading to Apapa from Oshodi.
The Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, was recently in Lagos. But he drew the ire of Nigerians for neglecting to inspect the failed Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
These days, a drive to and from the airport to Apapa, which ordinarily should take less than 30 minutes, now takes about seven hours. Many are those that have been despatched to their graves on this highway to hell.
A recent survey by Daily Sun reveals that there are exceptionally bad spots between Iyana Isolo and Cele Bus Stop. The spots include Iyana Isolo, Sadiku, Ilasa, Iyana Itire, Agunlejika and Cele bus stops. Potholes, ditches and craters are a common feature on the road. At Agunlejika Bus Stop, potholes and craters, covered by water litter the highway.
'Ilasa Bus Stop axis is very terrible when you are driving from Apapa to Oshodi. I must tell you that we commercial motorists know how to avoid the potholes and craters. But I always pity all these private car owners, they would just bump into craters and have flat tyres. Accidents happened in this axis frequently and people die every day. So, I don't think we have a responsible government in Nigeria, especially as far as Oshodi Apapa Expressway is concerned,' Geoffrey Anyanwu, a commercial driver told Daily Sun at Ilasa Bus Stop.
Mr. Chidi Onu was very bitter when he spoke with our correspondent. The man, who runs a business in Apapa, said: 'There are potholes and ditches, especially around that Coker area. Even if you are the most meticulous driver in Africa, you dare not take the expressway. You must keep to the service lane. Otherwise you are inviting death. Even the big trucks with big tyres fall on that road everyday, not to talk of small vehicles. And even the service lane has totally collapsed now. And you say we have a government in this country? And you say there is a Minister of Works? You must be kidding me!'
It's the same situation at Ijesha and Sanya. Each day, vehicles run into ditches covered by water and break down. The bad spots at the Second Rainbow are the worst of all the terrible spots on the highway. Indeed, it is unbelievable that the road has not been declared a disaster zone by the Federal Government.
At Mile 2, shortly after Jakande Bus Stop, the road is full of potholes. Each day, the traffic snarl in this axis is also frightening.
'If you are driving from Apapa towards Oshodi, immediately after the Mile 2 flyover, that place is always a no-go-area whenever there is a downpour. The place is always flooded. I wonder what FERMA is doing. I wonder what the Federal Ministry of Works is doing to fix this important road.'
Driving on the section of the road from Berger Yard Bus Stop to Tin Can Island Port Gate is another hellish experience.
Mr. Ejike Mgbemena, the Controller of Works, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Lagos Office, has said the contract for the rehabilitation of the expressway had been awarded to Boroni Prono Nigeria Limited and Julius Berger Construction Companies.
But when will the Federal Government reconstruct or rehabilitate the failed Oshodi Apapa Expressway? That is the question Nigerians want the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, to answer without delay.