Some would wonder if the headline above is meant to cause unnecessary alarm. Far from it! It is meant to make us uncomfortable enough as to strive to address some pertinent issues awaiting our urgent attention. This piece is inspired by the very chaotic atmosphere I have observed across several parts of Lagos these past two weeks following the partial relax of the lockdown that greeted the advent of COVID-19 into the state in March.
Granted that the need to open up the state for commercial activities have become inevitable, however there are ominous signs in the air and several issues I believe have been left unattended to by the relevant authorities. If care is not taken, we may find ourselves back to the very beginning, compounding the various challenges we had intended to surmount at the first instance. Firstly, I wish to appreciate Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his team for their prompt responses and reactions in handling the COVID-19 quagmire. Particularly worthy of commendation is the daily briefing meant to update residents of the state on the state of the virus and efforts to prevent it from spreading. It is gratifying to note that these efforts have helped in no small measure to endear the governor to the people of the state. Be that as it may, it is also worth the while to note that the recent unlocking of business activities in the state has brought up many pertinent issues.
Was the lockdown relaxed because the state has finally been able to contain the virus or is it purely as a result of economic expediency? If the chaotic markets, banks and other places of business can be opened, what stops worship centres also from being opened? Driving from Ikorodu to Maryland these past few days one cannot but notice the heavy traffic that have become a sort of nightmare for motorists. I learnt some leave their homes as early as 5am only to be confronted with a stretch of gridlock all the way from Ikorodu round-about to Ojota.
The main cause, it seems, is the bad portion of road from mile 12 to Ojota. One would think that the period of the lockdown would have afforded the contractors the opportunity to renovate all the bad portions of the major roads in the state! I believe the Honourable Commissioner for Works in the state should quickly look into this. Furthermore, the opening up of the state for commercial activities means that intra state transportation is also in full swing. What happens to physical distancing? One notices these days that despite the sudden increase of the cost of tickets for BRT buses, they are now carrying full sitting capacity, no much room for physical distancing as is being touted.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies are all over the city arresting and detaining private and commercial vehicles for non compliance with the same physical distancing directive. How about the mammoth crowd that besiege Bank ATMs and markets on daily basis? We are back to our chaotic old self. The people are like hungry lions that have been left off the chain to roam about in search of prey. LASTMA officials and their associates are at their best, dealing mercilessly with purported traffic offenders. People are back to the old norm of spending hours on the roads before they get to their office. They get back home late in the night only to wake up and leave again the wee hours of the next morning. A vicious cycle! Now the big question: what happens to the rising infection rates of COVID-19? How ready are we to attend to the imminent health explosion that would come with the increase in infections? Are we actually ready for the emerging chaos?