DARK STREETS IN THE CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
Lagosians want street lights on streets and roads to check nocturnal crime
THERE are a few roads in Lagos visitors love to pass through at night. One of such is the new Victoria Island-Lekki highway.
Mrs. Rita Arogaba says she loves driving on that route at night because if reminds her of her days in London: 'It is a well paved road and beautifully lit at night.
'The light scares away many felons who hide by dark roadsides at night to attack motorists especially ladies who are alone in vehicles.'
She then goes on to relate her experience sometime ago at Toyota Bus Stop on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway at about 8.00 p.m. while she was stuck in the traffic just before Five Star/Aswani Bus Stop on her way home enroute Apapa.
'It was a Tuesday when the famous Aswani Market traders poured onto the road at the same time as automobile spare parts traders from Ladipo, a multi-billion naira spare parts market on the opposite side of the Aswani Market,' she related.
'I had hoped to get home before dusk but that was not to be because of the traffic jam at the spot. I started to fret inside the car. I was sweating even though the air-conditioner was working at full strength. I had been robbed at night before at Tin Can Island Port highway at night when I was similarly stuck in traffic. So, on this day, as the traffic was not moving and the rays of the sun faded to give way to a pitch-dark night, I started to fret,' said the mother of six children.
And true to her foreordainment, someone tapped at her window and ordered her to wind the glass down. To show that he was serious, the husky man showed Rita the nuzzle of a pistol pointed at her. She obeyed. The lone man collected her bag containing some good sum of money, banking documents, jewels and sundry items. Other cars by her side just looked on without coming to her aid.
Several years later, Rita recalls the incidence and blames the absence of streetlights at the spot. She said that if the spot were lit like Oshodi Oke of today or her favourite road, Victoria Island-Lekki expressway, she probably would not have been robbed so cheaply.
But roads such as Ikorodu-Yaba and the stretch of road from Oshodi Oke to Five Star/Aswani bus stop used to be lit at night since Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola came to power in the state and started the environmental transformation agenda.
But for some time now, these important roads, though federal-owned, have fallen back into silent, dark nights. And when these roads were lit up at night, crime on the axes was reduced. The miscreants who swoopped on car owners at night in traffic jams or when the vehicle develops faults relocated from such well-lit roads as Outer Marina, Local Airport-Maryland and others, to Orile-Mile 2- Okokomaiko expressway, and others to rob.
Electrical engineer Oswald Odeyemi says that providing streetlights is not expensive if not for the 'Nigerian factor.'
He says that the Federal Government roads in Lagos are the worse culprits in this neglect of street lighting. He recalled that when the highway from Apapa-Oshodi -Third Mainland Bridge head at Oworonsoki was built in the 1970/80's, high, streetlight poles were erected along it and they functioned for a while before they fell into disuse. Nowadays, none of these giant streetlights gives light anymore. 'It is a shame,' he said.
The Fashola administration did well to have lighted some Lagos roads with liquid fuel but it seems the state has also been bitten by the Federal Government bug. The streetlights dimed because the Federal Government that monopolises public electricity supply cannot provide light for 12 hours non-stop.
Wola Adigun who works in a firm between Oshodi and Five Star bus stops on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway wonders why the streetlights in his area have not been functioning.
'The purpose of erecting streetlight on roads is to illuminate the highways so that it would help night driving and pedestrians can use the roads in peace,' he said.
He recalled the many crimes that used to take place around the axes before the streetlights were installed.
Adigun commended the state government for installing streetlights on the road and also deploying policemen with an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) to around Ok Foods. 'These two actions of the Lagos State government deterred criminal elements from further terrorizing pedestrians and motorists around the area. Now that the streetlights have been switched off, even the policemen with their APC have been hampered in their job. Stories of mugging of people at bus stops around the area have started to be told daily again,' he said.
He wondered: 'Nigeria is financially endowed enough, lets face it, to run these streetlights daily or what are we spending our oil money on?
'The nation has passed this level if we are ready to face the reality. Whichever agency of government is in charge of providing the streetlights, should go ahead to reactivate them,' he pleaded.
Alhaja Aduke Mukaila, a textile trader in Egbeda said that when the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu erected streetlight in Alimosho area from
Iyana Ipaja to Egbeda, the residents heaved a sigh of relief that crime in the area would soon be checked with night illumination.
'Our joy knew no bounds when the lights were put on and everywhere along the road was illuminated with the beauty of the yellow night light. But that era seemed gone again.'
Ola Michael who lives in the area agreed with her: 'Though I have never travelled to London, Alimosho was like London at night then. The environment was beautiful at night.
'But we never knew that it was to be short-lived. Like an interesting dream, the scenario faded away on waking up. Today, it is history. The poles are there intact but for years, there has been no light at night.
'Traveling along Egbeda Road today is like traveling along a village road,' Ola said.
Other roads with poles that do not give light at night abound. Igando-LASU Road is well paved but without streetlight.
It is not only the highway streetlights that have been rendered ineffective in the Centre of Excellence. The beautiful motor parks that were built at the commissioning of BRT buses from Iyana Ipaja to Igando and others, used to be adorned with streetlight at night. Not anymore. The parks are pitch dark at night and many a crime are committed at the parks at night.