The Badagry Expressway is the local name for the Nigerian section of the of the highway that links Nigeria with the rest of the West African countries up to Abidjan in Ivory Coast. The expressway connects Lagos with the ECOWAS Trans national highway route.
Extensive reconstruction of the Lagos portion of the expressway began in 2010. When the renovations are completed, the Lagos portion of the expressway will be widened from four lanes to ten lanes for road vehicles and a new mass transit line that will operate in the median. Two of the expressway’s lanes are intended to be exclusively used by the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System.
Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Governor, three years ago assured residents that the ongoing Lagos-Badagry expressway expansion project would be completed before the end of 2019.
He made the statement at the beginning of his tenure shortly after embarking on extensive inspection of ongoing projects across the State, saying that the project was a major economic catalyst for Lagos, and therefore, his administration was totally committed to seeing it through.
Ambode said it was important for the road network to be completed within schedule to accommodate the anticipated increase in economic activities from the $2.6billion Badagry deep sea port to be located in that corridor.
“ It is imperative that the project is accelerated and completed on schedule. It is a 10-lane expansion project with a provision for rail”, he said.
Speaking further, he said that though the project was awarded to lapse at Okokomaiko, his administration will give it to a concessionaire who is expected to extend the project from Okokomaiko to Seme Border.
It is now over three years since that pronouncement, residents and motorists who ply the Lagos-Badary Expressway, are not happy with the Federal and Lagos State government over the deplorable state of the road.
In fact, concerns have been raised over the perceived abandonment of the road by the government as commuters and residents lament the long man-hours wasted on the road, and the completion date for 10-lane expressway to Badagry remains unknown.
The 60-kilometre expressway project being executed by the state government has two major intermodal transport schemes namely the ‘Lagos-Badagry Expressway’ and the ‘Light Rail Mass Transit’.
The projects have accompanying infrastructure; 10 lanes superhighway taking off from Eric Moore interchange and traverses westward through Orile Iganmu, Alaba Oro, Mile 2, Festac, Agboju, Iyana Iba, Okokomaiko, Iyana Era, Ijanikin, Agbara, Ibereko and terminated at Badagry.
It has four dedicated toll lanes, four service lanes, two BRT lanes, 23 BRT online bus stations and seven toll link interchanges, seven bridges and 16 flyovers amongst other features.
He explained that for ease of funding and construction, the 60 kilometer road project was originally divided into three lots, Eric Moore to Mile 2, Mile 2 to Okokomaiko and Okokomaiko to Seme-Badagry.
Only recently the state governor who was piqued by the discomfort being experienced by motorists plying that axis of the state, directed that the completed portions of the Lagos-Badagry expressway from Eric Moore to Okokomaiko be opened up to traffic as soon as possible following the completion of works by the contractor.
The Governor also directed the Public Works Corporation to intensify palliative works on the road from Okokomaiko to Badagry.
“My visit to the area is to ascertain the level of traffic flow, the level of work done and the state of the remaining portion of the road yet undone leaves much to be desired. From the Iyana Iba end of the road to Adeniran College of Education and beyond to Badagry, was rather disheartening and gave me a topsy-turvy experience to say the least.
At my first stop at the college of education, Ijanikin, I spoke with Adeola an English/Yoruba student of the school. Adeola said he lives with his parents in the Egbeda area of the city, where he attends lectures on an almost daily basis”.
According to him, some lectures come up as early as 8am, requiring that he leaves home very early to beat the perennial traffic gridlocks that the road is associated with.
What beat his imagination, Adeola said, are the ever present traffic hold ups found on the road no matter the time you venture out of your house.
The most precarious situation associated with the road is the sheer number of articulated vehicles plying the road to and fro.
He recalled that some of the narrow escapes from road crash that the vehicles he is travelling in had with trailers on the road.
He wonders if the construction exercise will ever get to the Ijanikin portion of the road.
The fear expressed by this young man was not unfounded, if you juxtapose it with the statement credited to the state commissioner for works, Engr. Ade Akinsanya, who said palliative work is going to commence on the bad portion of the road to cover; “Iyana Era, Ijanikin, Oko-afo, Magbon, Ibereko, Araromi, Iyana Isashi and Agbara.” And the desire of the state government to get concessionaires to fund construction of the remaining portion of the road up to Badagry is actualised.
This quest by the state government is said to dominate talks between the state governor, Ambode and Chinese officials when he accompanied the president on his recent visit to that country along with other state governors.
So as it stands now, the continuation of that project is not foreseeable in the nearest future until the state governments get concessionaires that are willing to invest in the completion of the road project up to Seme boarder.
The residents of the communities on the road seem to get a wind of this reality, which gave rise to serious concerns and agitations in recent times.
An official of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), at the Iyana Iba garage who would not want his name mentioned said, it will be a betrayal of trust, for the government to abandon the work at the point where it is now.
He expressed the excitements of himself and his colleagues as they await the completion of the road project and the thoughts they often entertain of having a world class highway as their route daily.
Alhaji Mutiu is a landlord who lives with his tenants at Iyana Isashi, but has his shop at the Alaba market near Iyana Iba.
He expressed his concerns, that the present bad state of the road had contributed in no small measure in the dwindling financial fortunes of business owners and salary earners in the area who have to pay prohibitive transport fares to and fro their various places of ventures.
He also lamented about the diminishing value of properties in the area when compared to other areas of the state.
Mutiu said, it is not uncommon to be stuck on end in trying to get a reasonable price for landed properties.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to do all within its powers to ensure the completion of the project beyond communities that are heavily populated on the way to Badagry.
For Yakubu an okada rider from Kano state, who spoke to me in the Hausa language, seems not to be so concerned with the bad state of the road, but is, bothered about the extortions of traffic enforcement agents on the road which include the police and members of the Nigerian Army.
According to him, he rakes in an average of N15, 000 on a daily basis from conveying passengers on the ever busy expressway.
Emeka, who lives in the Agbara area and has a branch of his building materials shop at the International Trade Fair Complex, said he gets discouraged visiting his other shop at the trade complex on regular basis to monitor sales due to the heavy traffic bottlenecks encountered anytime he dares.
He said the chassis of the truck he bought some few years back to aid in freighting his wares to his branches had been wrecked in the bottomless manholes dotting the Lagos – Badagry expressway.