For many residents and motorists along Abule- Egba, Oko-Oba, Agege, Iju Road and Iyana -Ipaja and other environs, successful completion of the Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge marks the end of suffering and perennial gridlock that has become a regular feature on the axis, Muritala Ayinla reports
When the idea of constructing a flyover bridge was first conceived sometime in 2017, the idea was to seek a permanent solution to the transportation challenges in the axis.
For years, the axis was one of the busiest spots in the state, perennially clogged daily in gridlock with thousands of motorists spending hours with accompanying travel inconveniences, loss of productive man-hours resulting in trauma and stress.
For vehicles heading to Abule-Egba, Oshodi, Old Abeokuta Road, Oko Oba, Orile- Agege, Tabon-Tabon, Iju-Fagba axis and other suburbs, navigating the Pen Cinema axis was usually a hellish experience, especially with commercial and bus activities in the corridor.
But with last Friday’s commissioning of the bridge by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the longsought relief from choking vehicular gridlocks has finally come the way of residents, motorists and business owners on the axis of Lagos State. In addition to the iconic bridge, five other arterial road networks in the area were also formally inaugurated for public use.
The construction of the 1.4-kilometre long flyover, New Telegraph gathered, was part of the recommendation at the Lagos Economic Summit (Ehingbeti) under ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration, as a strategic intervention to achieve significant traffic improvement in the densely populated area.
Sanwo-Olu’s predecessor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, created the right-of-way and set up the structural beams while Governor Sanwo-Olu substantially completed civil work on the bridge.
Speaking at the carnival-like ceremony, Governor Sanwo-Olu said that his administration deliberately focused on provision of infrastructure to achieve pre-conceived targets of reducing travel time – save important man-hours that would have been otherwise lost to traffic; provide better riding surface leading to reduced maintenance cost; boost inter connectivity and generally make life more meaningful to Commuters in Lagos State.
He said the bridge’s construction was in line with the State Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), saying that his administration deployed a two-pronged approach to infrastructure delivery, to bring immediate impactful succour and relief to commuters.
We prioritize continuation of strategic ongoing roads and link bridges, as well development of new roads. We also listed many roads for urgent maintenance, and continue with the provision of on-going strategic offices and public buildings.
He said: “One of the most critical challenges being experienced on a daily basis by residents/ road users along Agege Pen Cinema axis over years was the heavy traffic volume occasioned by the geometric increase in traffic volume. Residents and road users along this axis have clamoured for a solution to the suffocating nature of the perennial traffic gridlock occasioned by the huge human and vehicular traffic, flowing through this intersection.
“To address the challenge of this huge traffic burden, our administration decided to continue with construction of a Precast and Pre-stressed Reinforced Concrete Dual-carriage Flyover and Ramp, with road works, across the Agege Pen Cinema Intersection which was then at about 20 percent completion.
This is in line with the first pillar of the THEMES Agenda which targets the provision of roads as a critical infrastructure that will support economic activities, enable commercial interactions and ensure ease of commuting from one part of the state to another through elimination of traffic gridlocks.”
Prior to the construction of the flyover, the governor said that the increase in traffic volume across this critical business hub and the resultant congestion was a serious challenge to commuters who throng the axis for businesses and the residents.
But to eliminate gridlock on major roads around the axis, he added that the state government identified for reconstruction works some major arterial roads with good connectivity to adjoining roads that could serve as alternative bypasses to other arterial roads, especially during heavy/peak traffic periods, thus helping to free up more traffic.
The governor explained that the Bridge alignment is along Agunbiade Street (along Oke-Koto junction) and spans across the intersections of Old Abeokuta Road, Railway Corridor and Iju-Isaga Road and terminates near the entrance gate of Ijaiye Low Cost Housing Estate along Oba-Ogunji Road, adding that the Bridge was also design to convey traffic from Oba-Ogunji Road into Old Abeokuta towards Abule Egba through ramp across Railway Corridor.
On his part, the former governor of Lagos and National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as someone who helped to redirect the governance to the right path, saying governance in the state was already heading in the wrong direction before he intervened.
Extolling Sanwo-Olu’s leadership virtues, especially for fulfilling campaign promises on continuity, the former governor said that Governor Sanwo-Olu demonstrated good leadership in spite of obvious challenges.
Tinubu said: “I want to thank you on behalf of all Lagosians for what you have been doing and for the fact that you didn’t let us down. Sometime in 2017, 2018 the ship of this state seemed to have headed in a very wrong direction, history had it.
We came together, the election came and we chose a democratically elected government for the people by our people and for our people. They said who is Babajide Sanwo-Olu? We said he is guaranteed. You will find out, they say, they seem to know Femi Hamzat and it will work.
The APC National Leader, who also described Sanwo-Olu as “a brilliant captain”, praised the collaboration between the executive and the legislative arms in the State, saying that the Governor had stabilised and brought Lagos back on a focused journey, despite economic turbulence occasioned by Coronavirus (COVID- 19) and coordinated destruction of the State’s assets.
Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who represents Agege in the Assembly, described Governor Sanwo-Olu as “a proactive, wonderful performer,” who always accomplishes any projects he promises.
Obasa recalled how he first moved the motion on floor of the House and later reintroduced it during the 8th Assembly. He said following the reintroduction of
the motion, the project was supported by the executive arm and added to the budget. Obasa added: “This shows collaboration and strong relationship between the executive and legislature in Lagos state. We recognise the doctrine of separation of power but it is not the end if there is no collaboration among the arms of government.
We enjoy the cordial relationship between the House and the executive and this has brought employment and development to the state.” Citing how the state has further benefited from the relationship between the arms of government, he noted: “The initiative of Neighborhood Watch is an arrangement between the Assembly and the executive and today the security outfit has employed thousands of people.
This shows that collaboration between the two arms of government can create employment. Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, said that the entire project consists of a dual carriageway with a bridge component of two lanes at 3.65 cm width in either direction. She explained that the road component consists of service lanes on either side of the bridge with median, kerbs and walkways that are complete with signalised traffic system. She added that there are junction improvements with LED streetlight features.
According to her, the 1.4km Flyover Bridge has a dual carriageway with 2 lanes of 3.65m width each including the improvement of road surface around the Agege Pen Cinema axis. She said that it also consisted of dualisation, expansion, construction and rehabilitation of 5 Network of Roads and Junctions with turning radius improvement.
The Special Adviser said the provision of a new drainage system: Re-routing some roads and traffic signalisation are some of the innovative solutions that were carefully designed to ease the daily gridlock being experienced by commuters in the area.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail construction of the flyover over who should be given the glory between Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who substantially financed and completed the project, and his predecessor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, who commenced the project with the clearing of the right of way as well as the casting of the beams.
Speaking with New Telegraph, a motorist, Segun Kolawole, said that the former government should also be commended for initiating the project, saying that the project would have been completed if he had spent a second term in office. “I think it is wrong not to acknowledge the man just because he too failed to recognise his own predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, while commissioning Ikorodu road which we all know Fashola did. At least, his name should have been mentioned.
Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said. But his view was criticised by another shop owner in Agege, Mrs Felicia Damilare who said Governor Sanwo-Olu should be praised for thinking differently from other politicians who deliberately abandoned the projects initiated by their predecessors for the masses to suffer. According to the mother of three, huge amount of resources are wasted on the project whenever it is abandoned for any reason.
“Let’s just imagine if Sanwo-Olu had chosen to embark on a fresh project instead of completing this. Imagine how long we would have suffered. So, for me, the man will forever be commended for choosing to end our suffering,” Mrs Damilare said.