The lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency II in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Setonji David, in this interview, reiterates that the people of Badagry deserve better infrastructure and social amenities to catch up with other parts of the state. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
The Lagos Badagry Expressway has become an eyesore, as the representative of the people of the area, what you think the Lagos State and Federal governments should do to make the road better?
I am short of words to describe the situation of the road because it is quite pathetic. I had a meeting in Lagos for 1.pm and I left Badagry at 6.am, but I got to Lagos at 1:30 pm. For a journey of just about 40 minutes, we spent between five and six hours on the road. You can imagine what the people are going through. I wish you pass through the road. I am short of words to describe the harrowing experience of our people on that road. It is a Federal Government road and it is only in Nigeria that you see something like that happening. The road has failed. I am a civil engineer by profession and I know that what is there is beyond maintenance, it is a total reconstruction that we need on the road. How can you allow a road of over 50 kilometres, an international road, double carriageway to be damaged to that extent? As I am talking to you now, commercial vehicles are no longer plying Lagos-Badagry expressway. It is on rare occasions that you see few vehicles. People don’t want to use their vehicles to ply such a terrible road. I think we are cut off from Lagos.
Has the road always been like that?
The road was constructed by the Federal Government from Badagry to Mile 2. Thank God that the Lagos State Government has taken over some aspects of the road from Orile Iganmu to Mile 2, but Okokomaiko to Badagry has become an eyesore. The carriageway has failed completely. If anyone passes that road, he will wonder if we are in a war situation coupled with the fact that rain has worsened the situation. That road has been like that for the past five years or so. Recently, the Federal Government awarded some parts of the road, and the little they have done has been washed away by the rain. The state of the road now is terrible.
What do you have to say on the revelation that security agents are extorting motorists on the road?
Another problem that we have on the road is that of extortion by security agents. It is only in Lagos-Badagry expressway that every two kilometres, you see a police checkpoint and they are there every day making life miserable for our people. You cannot see less than 20 police checkpoints on the road. They are even making life worse for our people. You see a police checkpoint even after one kilometre. It is terrible, so we are appealing to both the state and federal governments to assist us on that because it is causing a lot of headaches and hazards for our people. There are cases of people having health emergencies and due to the state of the road, vehicles conveying them to the hospitals will break down and the patients dying.
What is your call to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who happens to be a former governor of the state on the road?
We have made a lot of presentations to the governments in terms of appealing to them to do something about the road. That must have led to the latest award of the road to contractors, but this has not translated to anything positive because the case of the road is still the same. I want to appeal to the Federal Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the Federal Government to assist us on the road. Interestingly, the Federal Government makes a lot of money from import duties at Seme Border as it is an international road and in spite of that, they abandoned the road. We are appealing to the Federal Government to come to our aid on the road and assist us, so that our people can start enjoying the road.
What are the impacts of the road on development in Badagry?
Obviously, economic activities in Badagry have been eroded because of the road. Which business activity can thrive in such a situation? No business can survive in such an area. Nobody wants to come there to do business anymore and things are very expensive in Badagry now. To bring goods from Lagos metropolitan to Badagry costs a lot of money and this makes life difficult for our people. You will be amazed at what our people are going through now. That is why I said that I know what we go through each time we pass through Lagos-Badagry expressway. So, we are appealing to the Federal Government to come to our aid.
We even heard that commercial buses are leaving the road in droves….
Of course, if you live in Badagry and work in Lagos city you would spend a lot of money on transportation. Most of the vehicle owners have abandoned their vehicles because of the road. You would only see rickety vehicles on the road and a lot of them break down regularly. The police are not helping matters with their ‘toll gates’ through extortion.
Have you tried to reach the security agencies on the activities of their men on the road?
Recently, we held a meeting with the authorities of the security agencies. The chairmen of Badagry Local Government and the two Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in Badagry and I held a meeting with the police, the Nigerian Army, the Customs and others to complain about the activities of their men on the road. They promised that it would get better, but the situation remains the same. That was about two months. Most of us who represent Badagry, including the council chairmen, my colleague who represents Badagry Constituency 1 in the Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Layode and I were at the meeting to complain about the challenges we face with their men on the road. I can assure you that most of these checkpoints are illegal, but not all of them.
Have you written letters to the federal and state governments on the situation of the road?
We have written several letters to both the state and federal governments on the situation of the road. The ordinary man on the street does not know who owns the road between the state and the federal governments; all he wants is for the road to be repaired. You cannot go and explain anything to them.
People feel that there is an alternative like the waterways, can that be explored?
Of course, the lagoon is there, but the road is better for more movement of the people. The waterways are yet to be perfectly developed. The primary means of transportation is the road, so we are appealing to the Federal Government to come and work on the waterways so that people can pass through them as an alternative. A large chunk of the road from Agbara to Badagry roundabout is Badagry Constituency 11 hence my concern over the state of the road.