The rot that defines the state of road infrastructure in the Apapa area of Lagos, which is home to Nigeria’s two major seaports has gone even worse, following the impact of heavy rains, wear and tear from heavy duty vehicles and utter neglect by both the federal and Lagos State governments.
Residents, commuters and businesses in Apapa who are at the receiving end of this collapse, have described the neglect as unfortunate, stressing that with the federal and state governments produced by one political party, the politics of the past which rendered Apapa prostrate ought to have ended with the old order which defined ownership of infrastructure along political lines.
It has become increasingly difficult to drive through the major roads in this port city which before now, was a haven of upper middle class workers, expatriates, high profile and multi-national businesses which elevated Apapa’s status above its peers in the larger Lagos metropolitan city.
To many, Apapa has become a wasteland and walking through its major connecting roads including Liverpool, Creek Road, Wharf Road, among others reveals a degraded environment and collapsed roads which have forced many residents and businesses to flee to ‘safer’ places, leaving a large stock of empty houses for the spirits and rodents.
Wharf Road has become a death trap with countless ditches and gullies so deep as to up-turn laden trucks.
Rehabilitation work on the road, which is being done by the Dangote Group, has been put on hold, but an official of the Group explained on phone that work would resume “when the weather becomes clement—that is dry season”.
For the wrong reason, Apapa has been in the news for the most part of the last 24 months. It has become a metaphor for pain, anguish, stress and suffering because of its crippling, intractable and suffocating gridlock and bad roads that elicit endless (unanswered) questions from motorists, other commuters and the few residents still staying put, hoping for intervention from government.
“Does any government have responsibility for Apapa?”, asked Paul Ajibade, a staff of an old generation bank with an office on Creek Road, Apapa, as he struggled frantically, on Monday, to pull out his trapped Toyota Corolla, 2012 model, from a ditch on Wharf Road.
Ajibade, who drives into Apapa from Festac Town, where he resides, said he takes the pain to drive through Orile-Iganmu via Ijora to connect Apapa every morning. He admits this is a rather zigzag journey for him, but he is left with no other choice, as the Mile 2-Tin Can route which is shorter from Festac Town, bears no guarantee he would get to his office if he ventures in.
“The Mile 2-Tincan axis is perpetually locked-down by the activities of petroleum tankers and container-bearing trucks. Apart from this, the road network, particularly from the Tincan-Liverpool Roundabout towards Apapa Wharf, has long collapsed, so it makes no sense going there,” said Ajibade.
For several years running, many of the motorists and commuters entering and exiting Apapa, like Ajibade, have had to ply Mobil Road or Ijora-Apapa Bridge. Indeed, due to pressure and decades of lack of maintenance, the stretch of Ijora-Apapa Bridge bears signs of disrepair and danger, as all the expansion joints are giving way. Recently, a section of the bridge caved in, forcing the Federal Government to divert traffic before calling in a construction firm to undertake a temporary remedial work.
But a few metres from the foot of the bridge, towards Airways bus stop, leading to Apapa Wharf, is the shame of a nation, and questions the Federal Government’s justification for the trillions of naira revenue it generates annually from import duties, sundry levies and taxes from the two ports in Apapa.
As the road situation worsens with the continuing rainfall, motorists seeking alternative routes to Apapa Wharf and other destinations within Apapa, are increasing finding it difficult, as some of the alternative routes are also in gross disrepair.
Liverpool, one of such alternative routes, through the Apapa GRA, which is categorised as state road, has collapsed, further increasing the trauma that residents, businesses and visitors are daily subjected to.
The Lagos State government reaps millions of naira monthly from Apapa through the wharf landing fee law introduced by the previous administration in the state. Under the law, every importer pays N1,000 on every 40ft container, N500 on every 20ft container and N300 on every vehicle imported through the ports, which the government claims is meant for road maintenance.
A top management staff of the state ministry of works and infrastructure, when contacted on the condition of Liverpool road, said he was not sure of the status of the road- whether it belongs to Lagos or the Federal Government. But motorists are saying that any government can repair roads for the sake of the citizens.