Monday, April 25, 2016 12:57 pm
Sixty four-year old Mrs Christiana Emela was beaming with smiles as she relaxed in front of her house, a government quarter, located at Durojaiye Street, Obele Oniwala Community in Surulere area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria. Her smile stems from the fact that her street, which had been in dilapidated state for over a decade is receiving attention from the Surulere Local Government. Over the years, she had been angry by the persistent dust that invaded her nostrils. She was enthused because the dust that used to give her heartache will be no more soonest as the road would be tarred with street lights and standardized drainage system.
“We are happy for this road construction because for long, dust wants to kill us. We are proud that when this road is completed, our plight will be over. We thank the Surulere Local Government for this project. This road used to be bad and partially flooded when it rains,” she said.
Her son, a businessman, Ezekiel Emela lent credence to his mother’s elation when he described the ongoing construction of the road as a welcome development. The dusty nature of the road in the past had made him have nauseating feeling.
“This road has been so dusty and bad for a very long time. It is only during the rainy season that we have respite when the rain will reduce the dust. The construction of this road is a good development,” he said.
Out of several roads begging for attention in Surulere, the Michael Ogun/Durojaiye Streets were among the two critical roads selected to be reconstructed in Surulere by the Surulere Local Government. The other road is Aralile Road. The roads were part of the 114 inner roads to be constructed across all Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, with two roads per council flagged off simultaneously across the state in January.
During his campaign, Ambode had promised that during the first year of his administration, inner roads would be constructed in all the 20 Councils and 37 Local Council Development areas. The unique thing about this was that the LGs and LCDAs were to be in charge of the construction of two roads each in their domains. The Lagos State Government is just to monitor the road construction and also to ensure that the roads meet international standard, while the councils will provide the funding for the construction of the roads.
However, the Michael Ogun/Durojaiye road is very strategic in the sense that it connects directly to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, without having to go through Itire which is a long distance. The length of the road is 600 metres and was awarded to Olag Nigeria Limited with specific specifications which include covered drains, walkway and street light.
But one challenge was encountered as the contractor, Olag Nigeria Limited moved to site. Residents in government quarters on Durojaiye Street had built several illegal structures on drainage alignment and setback. The roads were constructed by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration in the 80s with adequate setbacks, but residents took the law in their hands by erecting illegal shanties on the setback, thus, impeding on the road alignment. Some residents relocated their soak away pit from the back of their houses right onto the drainage alignment while others constructed shops and other structures on the alignment.
A visit to the area showed wanton illegal construction and disregard to town planning laws. For the contractor to take possession of the road and begin work, the setback and drainage alignment had to be reclaimed as well as relocation of electric cables of the Eko Discos to pave way for the construction.
According to the Executive Secretary, Surulere Local Government, Mrs. Bamidele Hussain, a stakeholder’s meeting was held with residents of the area and their Community Development Association, CDA on the need to reconstruct the road and reclaim the setback and alignment, with the stakeholders agreeing that the road must be constructed and illegal structures on the right of way removed
Based on the outcome of the meeting, the contractor moved to site and had to reclaim the setback and drainage alignment by removing some illegal structures in the area as well as relocate the electric cable for proper drainage to be constructed before asphalting the road. Some residents raised a false alarm that the contractor handling the project wanted to shift the electric poles and high-tension wires by the road side onto the roof of their houses. They lamented that attempts to convince the contractor and the Surulere LG on the possible danger the shifting of the electric poles and the high-tension would cause, was rebuffed.
But the Site Engr. Olag Nigeria Limited, Samuel Tomori said some residents only raised false alarm as there was never a time the idea of shifting the poles and high-tension wire onto the roof of houses in the quarters on Durojaiye road was mooted. He said the project was delayed because it took about 10 weeks to get the Eko Disco to give the permission for the relocation of the electric poles for the project to commence.
“Some community people rose up and said we were trying to relocate the poles on top of their roofs. We are not relocating the poles and high-tension wires on top of their roofs. Another challenge we had was that there were illegal structures built on the road setback. The people living in the quarters encroached on the setback. Some of them even relocated their soak away from the back of their houses unto the setback and they didn’t want us to remove the illegal structures from the setback at all.
“But the work is progressing fast as we are about completing the drainage. The relocation of the electric poles is about to start and before middle of May, we may complete the project,” adding that both the baale, CDAs and residents in the area were in support of the ongoing construction.
Former Chairman, Obele Oniwala CDA and resident on Durojaiye Street, Engr. Folahan Onikori said it was improper for people to erect illegal structures on drainage alignment and road setback, saying that something had to give way for development to come to particular areas. He commended the Surulere LG for the ongoing road project and urged the council to expedite action on its completion.
Onikori, who said he had lived on Durojaiye Street for about 50 years said the road had been built during the colonial era, but that it got bad over time as potholes and craters took over the road. He said people living in the quarters should not have built on the alignment and setback, adding that “it was not good that they built on the extension. “Some parts of this road have become so bad that sometimes, we had to some palliative measures to make it motorable to some extent,” he said.
Also, Emela, a resident said the “relocation of the poles is not a bad idea. After they finished work on the gutter, they will erect them back.” He said the removal of illegal structures from the road extension was okay as development must come to the area, while commending the council for a job well done.
Chairman, Surulere LG, Hussain said it was the CDA members who chose that the Michael Ogun/Durojaiye Road should be constructed due to its economic and social importance to the area. “We had delay with the approval to relocate the electric poles by the Eko Disco. To work on the drainage, we had to break some walls erected on the road setback,” she said.
According to her, about 80 percent of the residents were happy with the ongoing construction of the road and wanted the council to speed up work on the roads as they were grateful to the council..
She disclosed that the Obele Oniwala CDA chairman and secretary were among those invited to the Lagos House, Alausa, by the state government in December 2015 as part of orientation programmes on the projects, adding that “The Obele Oniwala CDA submitted Micheal Ogun and Durojaiye roads as part of the proposed roads to be constructed by the Surulere LGA in 2015/2016. Micheal Ogun, Durojaiye and Aralile roads from Ararile CDA.
She added that after the award of the contract, council engineers visited the site to mark illegal structures erected on road setbacks and equally pasted necessary notices informing the affected property owners to remove such illegal structures. She said she also visited the community on several occasions to meet with the residents on the need for the project to go on smoothly.
Hussain explained that before works began on the Michael Ogun/Durojaiye Road, the area was a slum with deep potholes littering the road, making it unmotorable. “This road was like a slum with deep potholes. We decided to do this road because it is a link road to LUTH instead of using the Itire Road. The road has lots of economic importance as well as social value,” she said.