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Regional News of Sunday, 29 August 2021

Source: guardian.ng

‘Perpetual darkness’ on major roads worries commuters, motorists

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Despite the huge amount of money expended on the supply and installation of streetlights across the state, a good number of major roads have remained in perpetual darkness at night.
  
The Guardian survey showed that driving on some Lagos roads at night is gradually becoming a dangerous affair, and this is having a rippling effect on road users. Pedestrians are expressing fear of moving around once it gets dark. Even commuters are staying off some major bus stops for fear of being attacked, as no help will be forthcoming from any side.
  
Aside from the crucial role streetlights play in reducing road accidents at night, crime rates at this period have surged. Besides, light is considered an integral part of security.
  
In the last few months, the state has witnessed rising cases of traffic robbery, car theft and other vices, all these are being blamed on the economic hardship in the country. However, some experts believe that the presence of functional streetlights could help in reducing such cases to the barest minimum.

Currently, some residents and road users are expressing concern over the impact of the state government’s much-hyped efforts at lighting up the state, which they claimed have been concentrated in some areas.
  
For instance, in 2018, the state government signed a contract with a United Kingdom-based energy firm to supply and install energy-efficient streetlights across the city. The $6.9m initiative was part of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s Light Up Lagos project.
 
Though some progress was reportedly achieved through the initiative, some roads that were not worked upon during the period have remained in perpetual darkness since then, some have even become non-functional, due to lack of maintenance.
  
One of the major highways witnessing total neglect in this regard is the ever-busy Lagos-Abeokuta Road. From Oshodi, through Ikeja, Iyana-Ipaja, Abule-Egba to Ajegunle, the boundary between Lagos and Ogun State, The Guardian observed that there has been no single functional streetlamp on the 21km stretch for over a year.
  
Though some of the lamps from Oshodi to Abule-Egba were removed during construction of the BRT lane and rehabilitation of the road, but since they were re-installed ahead of the BRT corridor launch in August 2020, they have not been reconnected to the power grid. Also, from Abule-Egba to Ajegunle, the situation is the same.   
  
As at last Thursday night, only two of the streetlamps on the beautiful Jubilee Bridge are working. The two functional lamps illuminated the bridge edge inward Abule-Egba Bus Stop, while the other side, towards Super Bus Stop remained dark.
  
Road users’ experiences on that axis, especially pedestrians and commuters, are unpalatable. The entire corridor is always dark at night. Pedestrians equally feel unsafe walking on the streets, as they fear that danger could be lurking in nearby corners.
  
While many have fallen victim of pickpockets at the bus stops, scores have been killed while crossing the highway. The Guardian witnessed the sad end of a man who was knocked down at Awori Bus Stop at Abule-Egba few months ago.

He would have been rescued, but due to poor illumination, incoming vehicles ran on him till the following morning. Horrific tales of drivers running into parked trailers have also become commonplace on the route.

It is the same scenario from Five Star Bus Stop on Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, through Ladipo auto spare parts market to Mushin, as the entire stretch is always dark at night, bereft of any form of illumination. Reports have it that criminals take advantage of the situation to rob pedestrians at these areas, when it is getting late and the road becomes empty. Scores of workers going home after the day’s work have been robbed at the popular bus stop that is fast becoming notorious.
  
Some motorists are constantly expressing fear navigating through the stretch, except for the brave few that can dare take the risk. Oba Akran Road in Ikeja is not exempted from this sorry tale. It was observed that the stretch from the bridge through Guinness Junction to Agege has been in perpetual darkness for some time now. While motorists struggle to manoeuver through the pothole-ridden sections of the road, pedestrians, majority of whom get stranded after the day’s work always find it difficult to pass through.
  
It was gathered that some policemen operate at the junction opposite the filling station to extort motorists, especially tricyclists, who drive against traffic.

However, the Public Relations Officer of Lagos State Electricity Board, Abosede Martins, explained that work has already started on some of the streetlights across the state.

“If you go through Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way to Airport Road and Ikorodu Road, you will discover that the streetlights have been worked on, as well as in some other areas. Currently, work is going on in Ketu to Ikorodu town. They are doing it gradually. I want to assure you that government is already working on faulty streetlights and all affected areas will be covered.”

From Abule-Egba, through Ekoro Junction, Agbele to Command, the story is the same. But for some filling stations that have taken it upon themselves to erect streetlamps in their frontage, the whole stretch would have been in total darkness every night.   
James Bello, a secondary school teacher, who resides in Ikeja area, said the presence of streetlights is an integral part of security to curb crime. He accused the state government of marginalising areas in the mainland. 
  
He said: “Streetlights are a crucial component of infrastructure in urban areas. It provides safety and security for residents and businesses. However, installation and maintenance have consistently been a problem.
  
A commercial driver, Gabriel Ojurongbe, attributed the problem to activities of cable thieves. He said since the street touts, otherwise called area boys know the advantage of well-lit streets, which they find unfavourable for their activities, they usually vandalise the lamps.
  
“A perfect example is Toyota Bus Stop on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. On several occasions when streetlights were installed on the axis, it took only few days for the lamps around the bus stop to stop working. Criminals around the area usually destroy them to enable them carry out their evil deeds at night,” he said. 
 
However, the Public Relations Officer of Lagos State Electricity Board, Abosede Martins, explained that work has already started on some of the streetlights across the state.

“If you go through Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way to Airport Road and Ikorodu Road, you will discover that the streetlights have been worked on, as well as in some other areas. Currently, work is going on in Ketu to Ikorodu town. They are doing it gradually. I want to assure you that government is already working on faulty streetlights and all affected areas will be covered.”