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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

On Lekki-Epe Expressway: Your Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

How can you, in good conscience, continue to allow tolls on Lekki-Epe Expressway, when majority of its users are subjected to harrowing motoring experiences daily?

Most users live East of Abraham Adesanya Estate, where the $16m per kilometre expansion stops. Lekki-Epe Expressway is 67km in length, from the Maroko Toll Plaza to Epe T-Junction, yet the poor quality expansion of less than 35% of it is used as justification to toll all of it.

From Abraham Adesanya eastwards, the quality of the road surface, though better in many respects than some of the "new" portions, are beginning to deteriorate due to sheer volume of traffic and inadequate provision.
To think that this is currently the ONLY access road to the much trumpeted multi-billion dollar Lagos Free Trade Zone scheme is all the more shameful, considering what Lagos State expects to reap from projects sited there.

Even more shameful is the fact that Lagos State ALREADY reaps huge bounty from residents of the area, corporate and individual, yet refuses to provide the simplest decent infrastructure - roads!

I urge you sir, to shun all partisan considerations, as I have, and take a second look at the policy of Lagos State regarding the Lagos East senatorial district as a whole, considering the huge population of the area, and the economic benefits already derived therefrom by the government.

Whilst the redesign of some the junctions west of Abraham Adesanya is commendable, these are not permanent solutions to the traffic problems on the expressway. At best, they can be described as band aid to hold fractured bones in place until an orthopaedic surgeon can operate.

I insist, as I always have, that the best solution is flyovers at every junction. Given the opacity surrounding the ownership of the Lekki Concession Company (we don't know if it's now wholly owned by Lagos State or still owned by its original owners), one cannot say who should be ploughing back revenue from the obnoxious tolls into building said flyovers, but it is clear that this is what needs to be done urgently to ease the suffering of millions of residents.

Again, considering the existence of the Free Trade Zone, it is a thing of wonder to me that 16 years after Bola Ahmed Tinubu first campaigned with the phantom Lekki Coastal Road, it remains but a vague mirage, existing only in the imaginations of the toll apologists and Asiwaju eulogists. Even if you start with just 6 lanes out of 10, please start this road.

You have demonstrated a can-do spirit, with the reconstruction of a small portion of the Epe-Itoikin Road, but it will be pointless unless you IMMEDIATELY complete it to Itoikin Junction. Also, the Poka Road expansion will also pointless unless at least the Lagos end of the Epe - Ijebu-Ode road can receive the same treatment as that small portion of Epe-Itoikin Road.

Finally, I wish to express, in the strongest possible terms, my deep misgivings about the character, structure, design and form of the 4th Mainland Bridge project, as currently proposed.

I am of the opinion that a 38km bridge to cross a body of water that spams less than 8km can only be proposed by outsiders, whose ancestral property will not be affected by the demolition orders that are sure to precede such a thoughtless project.

A more thoughtful approach, in my considered opinion, would have been a series of shorter bridges, linking a Northern Foreshore Road on the Lekki Peninsula side to a Coastal Road on the Ikorodu side, running through Imota, Isiu, Maya, Agbowa, Ikosi, Ejinrin and through to Epe Marina.

Suffice it to say that if the planners of the 4th Mainland Bridge had been given the responsibility of developing London, London bridge would have been the only crossing on the Thames and it would have been 50km long, instead of the paltry 269 metres it remains today. Bear in mind that none of the bridges crossing the Thames is more than 500m in length, yet they do the job of keeping traffic moving in London, much better than Eko, Carter and 3rd Mainland Bridges do in Lagos. It is not how big or long sir, but how smart.

I will continue this conversation at a later date sir, whilst I assure you of my highest consideration.

-Babatunde O. Gbadamosi
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