For two years, it has been a harrowing experience driving to Apapa through Ikorodu road, linking Ijora from Western Avenue or even driving on Eko Bridge, because trucks have turned a section of the road to their park.
Like a scene from a nightmare, these trailers litter the road with reckless abandon. They eat, bath, defecate and practically live on the roads. Lagosians were told the ports are filled. Tanker owners do not have parking spaces and gradually an aberration became a norm.
While the trucks lined the roads and choke off entry to the ports, the cost of moving imported goods from Tincan port in Apapa to Ikorodu, on the outskirt of Lagos became as expensive as moving goods from China to Lagos. Commuters spend hours in harrowing tariff jams and the cost of transportation skyrocketed. Crime rates soared in roads that were already unsafe.
The military was sent in to control the road but since the rule of the jungle applies, they quickly joined the police in an extortion racket that further emboldens truck drivers to commandeer the roads. Truck drivers say they pay as much as N20,000 to jump the queue. Those who are not quick with the cash remained stuck on the road for weeks.
The Lagos state government who gleefully announced that it hauled in N103.476billion as internally generated revenue for the first quarter of 2018 as against N96.7billion recorded in the previous year from people in Lagos, turned a deaf ear to the outcries of the people as the governor preoccupied himself with firing waste collectors and fighting for re-election.
However, in the most glaring display of disdain for the governed, the state apparatus and security operatives worked all night on Thursday February 7, to clear the roads of trucks as the president’s caravan get set to ride into town on Saturday to campaign for votes from the same ignored people.
“You know how to remove trucks for Access Bank marathon. You know how to remove trucks for presidential visit. But for some reason you don’t know how to remove trucks for your citizens. For over 3 years trucks parked here daily. But when convenient for you they disappear,” wrote Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun on Twitter.
From Obanikoro on Ikorodu road down to Ijora linking Apapa, the roads are devoid of trucks. On a morning it rained in Lagos, there was no traffic, commuters were not stuck on the roads for hours, robberies in traffic holdups were not recorded and pregnant women didn’t get delivered of children while waiting on to get to hospitals on roads heaving with traffic snarls.
People living in Lagos lose billions daily in terrible traffic snarls but this is not a priority for the APC-controlled government, where politicians have perfected the ability to buy patronage with a weird combination of treats and threats.
Lagos has morphed into a well-marketed con. Tax payers are denied access to budget breakdowns and even details of government procurement contracts. The line between public and private purse is blurry, thugs have sanctioned areas, doubling as revenue collectors and party agents.
“This is the value @followlasg (Lagos state government) places on productivity,” writes Wale Micaiah, a statistician, on Twitter. “What’s the economic contribution of Marathon and Presidential visit to Lagos compared to the massive hours wasted in traffic by workers & businesses?”
According to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Lagos is ranked 138th in 2018 ranking of world’s most liveable cities scoring 38.5% on indexes measured including stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and Infrastructure. Vienna is the world’s most liveable city with a score of 99.1% according to the Global Liveability Index 2018.
To put the ranking into context, Lagos was only better than crises-prone Dhaka, in Bangladesh and war-torn Damascus in Syria.
Lagos is home to over 20million people and is Nigeria’s biggest commercial city with all of the country’s serious ports and headquarters of 90% of Nigeria’s commercial banks and oil companies.
It represents the best of both worlds, the remnants of Nigeria’s dwindling middle class and a burgeoning class of the desperately poor, with slums right next skyscrapers. Lagos is loud, chaotic, dirty, a sleaze carefully wrapped in a silver foil, a sham that has forgotten how to normalise.
Since 1999, it has been controlled by the same political party even in different guises with the common denominator being Bola Tinubu, the first governor after democracy return in 1999 and who decides who becomes governor since 2007 after completing two terms.
Akinwunmi Ambode, the current governor was denied a second term in office and is now accused of sleeping in the saddle while Lagos rots. His detractors say, he hasn’t even been awake most of his tenure. Under his watch, Lagos sank to depths of chaos once unimaginable.
Analysts say his second term denial followed a decision to fire waste collectors which doubles as a patronage system that guarantees grassroots support, raising land tenure charges and reneging on agreements that ensured his assumption to political office.
The party has picked Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a former Commerce and Industry commissioner under Bola Tinubu as candidate in the March 2 vote. In the characteristic disregard of voters, he carries on as if already elected, because the owners of the fiefdom Lagos has become act as though a minor irritation as elections will do little to deny their candidate a win.