The term “Mega City” was coined in the 1970’s by the United Nations to define continuous urbanized settlements of ten million inhabitants or more (UNCHS, 1996). Megacities can be distinguished from global cities by their rapid growth, new forms of spatial density of population, formal and informal economics and, high levels of social fragmentation. Considering the population and the economic influence of Lagos State nationally and international, it has been counted as a Megacity. Bearing this in mind, the government has been occupied with fulfilling the dream of the Mega-City Lagos. Nevertheless, there is apparent evidence of lack of integrated development which creates an occasion for worry. Our Governor, His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on the 20th of July, 2020 informed the populace of the removal of four roundabouts in traffic prone areas to ease traffic.
This is a very laudable and thoughtful act. However, amidst these great strides, the substandard and calamitous state of the Lagos – Badagry Expressway is of immense jitteriness to those who ply and stay in residences around this particular axis. On hearing Badagry, one of the initial things that come to mind is that safe, serene and coastal town which forms the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic; a town full of history and culture. This popular town is one of the most searched places when foreigners seek for places to visit within Nigeria, as it is home to monuments, points of interests, beaches, resorts, artefacts and relics from the slave trade era. But sadly, it is barely accessible due to the bad roads. Also, along this ill-famed expressway is Agbara which is a popular manufacturing hub, the popular Alaba International Market and Trade Fair Market which houses approximately over 100,000 direct and indirect traders, attracting over 700,000 customers daily; three higher institutions, and domestic markets. All these golden opportunities on a platter. But the option of making them accessible to better the lives of individuals has constantly been neglected.
The Lagos-Badagry expressway is a major economic route that links Lagos and Nigeria to other West African countries. Sadly, it has been riddled with traffic congestion, poor traffic management, and dilapidated roads. It is approximately 60km with a median of between 2- 6m. The corridor stretches from Eric Moore interchange in Surulere in the east to Badagry town in the west. The economic significance of this corridor led to its upgrade by the Lagos State Government from a four to ten-lane dual-carriage expressway as part of the ECOWAS Transit corridor. The road is expected to accommodate a light rail track which will be integrated with the road system to further improve intra-city travels. This expansion, if we may recall, warranted the demolition of several structures along Orile Iganmu-Badagry Expressway to pave way for reconstruction.
Unfortunately, this road makes a mockery of vehicles, and in the rainy season, the journey becomes amphibious. In general, most of the roads lack basic facilities like drainage, traffic light, and road signs. On the other hand, where these facilities exist, they are either not functioning or clogged by dirt and weeds, as is the case with most drainage systems. The deplorable road condition is exacerbated by increasing vehicular pressure on the roads. Equally, the crime rate has skyrocketed as gridlocks have become traps for hoodlums and robbers who stroll from vehicle to vehicle disposing individuals of their personal effects. Law enforcement agencies equally suffer the problem of inaccessibility and immobility to address such situations. The exposure of commuters utilising public transport to air pollution is immense and dangerous. Some parts of this same road have been converted to large refuse dumps and lavatories. The health implications of these are enormous. The inadequate road networking is a disincentive to both local and foreign investors in these affected areas.
This is because the transportation of produce and services are carried out with enormous hindrances. Indeed, the present state of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, portrays Nigeria as a country without maintenance culture. When in the year 2009 the Lagos State Government announced that it was embarking on an extensive reconstruction of the road from four lanes to ten lanes, including the introduction of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) lane and new mass transit light rail line, it was met with joy and sighs of relief. Sadly, the road expansion project, initially meant to be completed within three years, has, however, stretched far beyond, creating more sufferings and causing unbearable gridlocks for road users.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council on October 24 2018, approved the award of a contract for the 46 kilometres stretch of the road from Agbara-Badagry-Seme Border, while the Lagos State Government would continue with the repair of the section from Eric Moore to Okokomaiko. Well done indeed is better than well-said. Yes, contracts have indeed been awarded. However, from all indications it appears the project has been abandoned. On the 25th of May, 2019, following a suit brought against the government, a Federal High Court Ikoyi, in Lagos ordered the Nigerian Government to fix the Lagos Badagry expressway with immediate effect. Till now, nothing tangible has been done.