Vandals are gradually destroying wire-mesh fencing mounted on the Lagos highways by the Lagos State government for safety and protection of pedestrians, passengers and motorists. Muritala Ayinla reports
When Governor Akinwunmi Ambode vowed to govern cheaper by saving N3bn monthly from the cost of governance, many people wondered how that would be possible giving the inflation rate in the country and ever increasing needs of the residents in the state. Many had considered the declaration as one of the political statements unconsciously made by Nigeria political office holders. Few months after, Lagosians and indeed some observers in the state began to notice financial re-engineering which gave room for relocation of the government agencies from their hitherto rented apartments to the State Secretariat, Alausa and other buildings belonging to the state government.
Possibly, billions of naira previously paid to their respective property owners where the agencies were using as offices is now being saved by the government through the policy and other financial re-engineering and review of the revenue and expenditure framework of the state government.
Beyond other financial restructuring strategies which are only known to the financial experts, one of the strategies used by the administration to reduce the cost of governance was the reduction in the cost of enforcing the law through the establishment Wire-mesh Fencing in all the newly roads constructed and rehabilitated roads to bring about safety and orderliness. With wired fences and pedestrian bridges constructed in some parts of the state, which many agree have contributed to the remarkable traffic flow on the highways, the government has been able to save the cost enforcing the environmental law.
Hawkers no longer have a field day on Lagos highway just as pedestrians do not cross the highway indiscriminately like before. Without the law enforcement officers running after the pedestrians or hawkers, everyone now adopts the right approach of commuting on the highways and the new lay-bys. The Wire-mesh Fencing placed on the roads median has indeed engendered sanity despite the fact that some will naturally ignore pedestrian bridge to cross the highway without consideration for the risk involved. Whether one likes it or not, one is forced to use the pedestrian bridges, walkways or other designated places. With the fences, pickpockets, robbers and other criminals who emerge from nowhere and snatch valuables from unsuspecting pedestrians before disappearing into their hideouts have also being prevented from operating easily. The presence of the wired fences has displaced some street traders who display their wares or goods on the roads.
However, as commendable as the installation of the Wire-mesh Fencing,vandals, who many described as environmental offenders and “enemies of change” are gradually destroying the fence, with nearly no efforts to get the perpetrators arrested and possibly prosecuted.
From Ojota to Ketu, some of the fences are either being pulled out or vandalized; From Berger on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to Ojodu Abiodun, the fences have been destroyed and not yet fixed or replaced. The stories are the same in Oshodi, Alapere and some other busy areas, which have the fences.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Mrs. Lanre Kasimawo, a roadside trader appealed to the government to fix the damaged wire in the interest of the safety of Lagos residents and commuters. According to her, the incidents of hit-and-run on the expressway have been reduced since most people now use the bridges, especially with the constant provision of light on the bridges at night.
Although, the woman attributed the installation of the fence on the low sale and patronage by their customers, saying many of them who would have ordinarily crossed the expressway to buy goods from them would not want to take a long walk again to their shops after using the pedestrian bridge.
On his part, Segun Rahim, banker, wondered why most Nigerians resist change and ideal ways of living. He lamented that he was shock to see that some of the fences get vandalized daily. “Government must rise to the occasion, the Governor meant well to have come with the idea and we have all seen that it works. No more traffic and the fencing has brought about civility. So, Governor Ambode must prove that, we have maintenance culture and tax payers’ money must not be wasted by the vandals.”
Also speaking, an officer in the Rapid Respond Squad, didn’t want his name mentioned on the ground that he was not authorized to speak, said that the police are doing great jobs by arresting the vandals and prosecuting them. According to him, the vandals are the criminals who operated easily before the government came up with the idea; he said that their findings revealed that the vandals turned to destroy the fences because they make their operation tedious. “The Light-up cable vandals too are constantly arrested and prosecuted. We will definitely go after vandals of the fences too and make it known publicly at least to serve as deterrent to other criminals,” he said.
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