Businesses along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway continue to suffer multi-million naira losses on account of low productivity caused by bad roads, the resulting gridlock, poor drainage systems and erosion along the 81-kilometre stretch, BusinessDay findings show.
While the Federal Government has for some months been doing what it calls palliative works in sections of the road, the outcomes have not solved problems with commuting, and continue to result in losses for companies, which also remain susceptible to theft, accidents, poor market penetration, slackening production processes etc.
The Lagos-Abeokuta corridor is a major road that connects two commercial and industrial nerve centres in the country; Lagos and Ogun states, with both having half of manufacturing investments according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
Some establishments along that route include De-United food, Finecoat industries, Nigerian breweries, Shongai packaging industry, Food Agro and Allied Industries Limited, among many others.
Olawale Fadairo, manager of Vine seasonings, a medium scale seasoning and flavouring production firm located at Sango Ota, recalls the company’s share of bad experiences due to the condition of the road, and has in the past, lost a batch of production inputs when the truck conveying the cargo fell into a big porthole covered with muddy water from the rain.
“The pickup was loaded with baskets of fresh pepper and spices, everything poured into the water and was crushed immediately, the truck’s engine consumed a lot of water and the driver sustained some injuries. I battled with debts of over a million naira that period,” he says.
In another incident, the factory had production delayed when a truck conveying inputs spent several hours in traffic, and by the time the inputs arrived some of had changed colour due to the heat.
Other than the bad road, traffic is another major challenge affecting businesses which is yet to be surmounted. When quantified in monetary terms, Franca Ovadje, founder and executive director, of Danne Institute, in 2021 told BusinessDay that traffic congestion makes micro-businesses lose between ₦60,000 and ₦500,000 yearly, depending on how many employees they have, while small businesses lose between ₦460,000 and ₦2.94 million monthly.
“Medium-sized businesses lose between ₦3 million to ₦14.94 million monthly, this is how much we are losing. We then calculated the revenue loss to the state, annually Lagos loses about ₦4 trillion to traffic,” she said.
An employee of a firm located on the Lagos-Abeokuta axis who spoke to BusinessDay, on condition of anonymity, said the bad road has contributed negatively to the growth of the organization, as it always hinders the movement of goods and people in the organization.
“On many occasions, containers conveying products and raw materials to the company have fallen due to the bad road causing wastage and costing us millions of naira monthly. This also causes delays in our production process, and makes products to get late to the customers,” the source said.
Regardless of the financial and operational impact on the business, the source said the company is still mandated to pay various taxes which take up about 15 to 20 percent of revenue when aggregated.
Just like businesses, individuals also suffer losses in terms of productivity and transport costs. According to Google map, between the hours of 11:00 pm and 05:30 am, it takes less than 40 minutes to reach Oshodi (27KM) or Obalende (47KM) from Sango Ota but once it is past that time, a journey of 30 to 45 minutes will usually take more than two hours.
Olawale Adigun, is a 41-year-old administrative staff who resides at Oju-Ore, Ota but works at a private hospital in Surulere where he is expected to resume by 7.30am and close by 6pm daily.
Despite the distance of roughly 37KM according to Google map, Adigun is one of the most punctual employees in the organization but this comes at a cost, including leaving home at 4.30am especially on Mondays and sometimes 5am on other days.
“Mondays and Fridays are the worst days to leave home late or leave work early. You meet traffic at different intersections which starts when you want to connect to the express when you reach toll-gate, Meiran to Obadeyi, Ile-epo down to Iyana Ipaja,” he said
While there is an alternative route that helps cut down traffic time and is in a better condition, if it is not properly maintained, it may deteriorate over time, he says.
“The need to provide for myself and my family, as well as the fear of losing my job in an economy that has a 33 percent unemployment rate, is enough motivation for me to be productive and efficient at work to the best of my ability,” he said, of his motivation to keep enduring the daily routine.
The Lagos-Abeokuta expressway which used to be deserted has over the past 10 to 15 years grown to become very busy owing to the high rate of urban migration, relatively lower standard of living, construction activities in the area, and the establishment of industries that provide employment.
It is also one of the busiest roads connecting Lagos, and boasts various business entities while cutting through two of the largest local government areas in the country; Alimosho in Lagos state and Ado-Odo/Ota in Ogun state.