From time immemorial, men as well as other animate beings move from one point to another in search of daily survival resources. Most migrant birds are known to follow a particular route to and from wherever their destination may be. Over time and civilization, Man developed routes across the deserts, ice lands, forest and wilderness to get to villages, towns and cities. Despite the vast expanse of the terrains and habitats, man uses the same roads and trails to go from and come back to their homes. These parts are made gradually and surely to allow one person at a time to pass through but over tome the trails became wide enough to allow 2 or more people to pass at the same time without collision with each other.
In Nigeria and Africa, where we have not bothered despite our resources to invent the wheel, we have allowed rudimentary means of movement our succor. We are solely dependent on where our feet will get us to or where the beast of burden could get us to daily to limit our movements. An African will depend at length on a camel, donkey or horse or simply use his feet. The riverine people were not left out; we just couldn’t think and get something efficient but canoes, rafts and sampans’. What a shame.
When the developed nations decided to trade with us, they were able to traverse the wide seas and oceans with boats and ships. Vessels provided with mechanized rowing systems. They overcame the mighty waves, the giant icebergs, the roaring winds and the blizzards of the desert to get to us. They were able to carry away many things, large things, small things, mighty things and even the African man as slaves. Because they could think of tomorrow and the economy of scale, they built bigger and bigger vessels.
Less I digress, they built roads for the machines of the road and rails for the trains and in building these tracks, they thought of ‘what if’, what if I want to stop and tarry awhile?, what if I want to turn back? What if there is blockage on one track ahead? They thought and they made alternatives available for themselves. They provided viable options; options that make things work efficiently and effectively. They provided lay byes, they provided roundabouts, they provided U-turns, they provided weighbridges, they provided track lines, they provided pullovers and flyovers and entry lanes and exit lanes and even they provided conveniences at intermittent distances because they know that nature may need to be relieved.
I must at this point, commend our indefatigable governor in Lagos State, H.E. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) for his efforts at providing roads and infrastructural development to the people of the state. His vision is clear and he has shown political will to develop the state. He must however look into the designs again especially the Lagos Badagry Expressway.
What manner of road is this that has light rail in the middle or median? The location of the rail has slowed down the rate of work on the roads. That is not even the problem. The location of the rail means that the road can never have a roundabout or U-turn. The implication is simple, once you join the expressway at Orile-Iganmu Bridge, you must get to Mile 2 before you have a chance to turn around. So if my house is in Sari Iganmu – Coker and I am coming from Stadium, I must endure another six (6) kilometers on the road to get to Mile 2 before turning around and endure another 6km back making 12 km before i can get to my road in Sari Iganmu Coker. Whatever any technocrat have to say, I believe this is wasteful of time, money and life because in this country where time and fuel are very expensive but live is cheap, why must I burn all the fuel to Mile 2 and back, waste my time, risk my life further on the road before I can get to my house.
Secondly, I have looked at the finished outer lanes; I cannot find a single lay bye for our highly indiscipline and disorganized commercial vehicles like the Danfos, the Vanagons, the Molues and the Taxis. Are we saying they will not pick and drop passengers at designated bus-stops? I am aware of the BRT lanes being provided, but they also break down sometimes and block these lanes. What if a vehicle develops a minor fault on the road, where will the driver veer into to look at the situation before taking a decision? There must be a rethink to this construction going on.
Finally, let us take a look at the two construction giants working on the road. I am of course not interested in any of them since I don’t have a construction business or affiliated to any construction company in this country. Messer’s Julius Berger and CCECC have different work patterns that need to be looked into. During the initial construction of LOT 1, Julius Berger created many diversions which were manned by their personnel which helped to a large extent to reduce the problems of hold-up and standstills. Normal traffic flow was ensured though slow but progressive. They were able to finish the outer lanes that we are all traversing now. I don’t know what CCECC is doing now on Lot 2A. Everywhere is blocked and the pace of work is irrationally slow. We cannot at this time have a single lane to pass through that is finished compared to what is happening on Lagos - Ikorodu axis handled by the same company. Somebody must help to supervise them especially from January 2014 when the pressures will start again after the yuletide seasons.
In conclusion, I must insist that a new look need be brought onto the design and construction of roads in the country. We must build roads that will last for a longer time, endure the usage of the people based on the types of vehicles we use for transporting our people. We need to relook at the roads again based on the culture of the people we are building the roads for. While I appreciate that human beings are the same all over the world, but we are different because our cultures, educational focus and orientation differs. We are who we are and will continue to be who we are until we have a total reorientation through our educational and societal focus. We must have a relook at the roads based on the type of access roads and layout of our street networks. If we didn’t plan the cities initially, then let us take to the skies and build roads that are flying over homes not render many homeless. Let there be U-turns, roundabouts, lay byes and utilities on the roads we are building for our tomorrow. Let there be overhead ramps to take us back to where we are coming from if we decide not to go ahead.
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