By Oki Samson
Many Nigerians know the right thing to do but find it difficult to comply except there is strict enforcement of the right attitude. The Blue rail line might be on its way to disrepair just as soon as inaugurated if something drastic is not done. This is the case of the Orile-Iganmu to Igbo-elerin axis of Lagos where the government has invested billions to bring infrastructural facelift which would enhance the livelihood of residents and economic fortunes of the state but the harmful activities of some citizens will not allow it show, Trek Africa Newspaper can report.
It is unthinkable that some persons would erect shanties and illegal structures right on the BRT corridor where they sleep and perform their businesses. Some have even started using sledgehammers to break the tracks in order to create space for their ‘businesses’. What a shame!
People who ply the BRT corridor and the newly-opened Phase 1 of the Blue rail line in that axis might have noticed these unwholesome activities. It is rather unbefitting that almost immediately after the construction of these gigantic projects, nefarious individuals have begun to damage portions along that route. This is terrible, undesirable, and despicable.
But the Lagos State Government under Gov. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has vowed that it will no longer be business as usual. The government that has devoted huge finances to ongoing projects in that axis would not allow its investment to go down the drain into disrepair and disrepute.
Recall that only the Phase 1 of the Blue rail line which runs from Marina to Mile 2 has been commissioned, the construction of the Phase 2 of the project which begins from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko is underway.
Is Lagos State Government sleeping?
Last Sunday 17th September 2023, after some weeks of warning, ACP Bayo Suleiman and his Special Intervention Enforcement Team stormed the axis.
They demolished all unplanned structures and displaced all activities all the way from Orile-Iganmu to Mile 2. They warned some miscreants who have made it their trade to destroy government structures. They added a stern warning that the exercise will be a continuous exercise. They also affirmed that there will be constant monitoring of the axis for the stubborn individuals who would imagine that government will not be thorough.
Speaking to Trek Africa Newspaper during the enforcement exercise, Director of Transport Operations at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Olasunkanmi Ojowuro said: ‘The government of Gov. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has invested a lot of infrastructure in transportation. He is passionate about transportation which is the economic driver, hence the T – Traffic Management and Transportation in the THEMES+ Agenda of Mr. Governor’.
‘On this axis, there is Blue rail line – the first in Africa – and the BRT corridor but we have discovered a lot of abuses. Shanties are built on the setback, walkways, and on the station. We have abandoned vehicles, traders, miscreants lurking there day and night. Some of the medians have been destroyed with sledgehammers in order to cut the reinforcement which has put the corridors in deplorable state. Mr. Governor is not happy about it.’
The ACP Bayo Suleiman-led Special Intervention Team
The Governor obviously worried about the unpalatable development commissioned a Special Intervention Team with the operational mandate to dismantle all illegal structures on the setbacks along the blue rail corridor and median within the Lagos-Badagry Expressway axis. The Special Intervention Team inaugurated five months ago comprised the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Lagos Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Lagos Ministry of Transportation, and other relevant agencies. This Special Intervention Team is led by the Commander of the Area F Command, Ikeja, Lagos State Police Command, ACP Bayo Suleiman due to his excellent performance and track record while serving as the Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences Unit.
Noted for his no-nonsense attitude and untiring stance, ACP Bayo Suleiman and his team almost walked all the way from Orile-Iganmu to Mile 2 as he oversaw the removal of illegal structures and shanties on that entire stretch of road. He closely watched, warned and interacted with managers of motor-parks, shop-owners, community leaders, and residents of the area reiterating the massive investment of the government in that corridor and the need for Lagosians to see to the proper maintenance of the projects. He warned managers of motorparks that henceforth, it should be ‘enter motor and go’ and that they should not permit markets to flourish around them or else ‘you will go together if you allow other things to continue here.’
Trek Africa Newspaper can recall that the same ACP Suleiman was the one who as Task Force Commander, around 10 years ago under the leadership of Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola, opened up that Mile 2 corridor and other places like Oshodi for the development that is enjoyed there today. Those who know the sorry state of those places before know that they were a beehive of nonsense. It is interesting to note that he is being called back to again reclaim the Mile 2 corridor from nefarious activities.
The Zonal Chairman of ECOWAS Phase 2, Rotimi Bello shared the sentiment of the government on the need for maintenance. To Gov. Sanwo-Olu, he said: ‘We will comply with your efforts, we will move all our vehicles elsewhere.’ Some commuters who spoke under the condition of anonymity with Trek Africa Newspaper during the thorough operation on Sunday affirmed that it has been a long time since they witnessed such in the axis. They enjoined the government to continue the enforcement process so that all the gains of infrastructure will not be eroded.
Emphasizing the operational mandate, the Director of Transport Operations at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Olasunkanmi Ojowuro added: ’This exercise is in phases. Demolition and clearance is ongoing now with the arrest of miscreants, then sustainability where we will monitor compliance so that they won’t come back again.’
‘The cleanup is from Apapa-Iganmu to as far as Igbo-Elerin. We have created a lot of sensitization and pasted notices so that those who have encroached this multi-billion facility will leave. But they didn’t do the needful that is why we have come to sanitize the place by destroying shanties and illegal structures and remove abandoned vehicles. I want to promise Lagosians that we will adhere strictly and sustain enforcement’, Ojowuro assured Trek Africa Newspaper.