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Sanwo-Olu: Rethinking Lekki-Epe Traffic Architecture

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By Gboyega Akosile

From 6:30am up to about 9:30am, and most times, till noon, motorists plying the ever-busy Lekki-Epe Expressway from Ajah axis inward Victoria Island and other parts of Lagos, now have a daily ordeal of traffic snarl to contend with. 

Arguably, the axis is the busiest not only in Nigeria but in Africa on account of the fact that it houses the headquarters of major multi-national corporations and other organisations, including financial institutions, oil companies, property firms, telecommunications giants, hospitality firms, automobile companies, major shopping malls and government institutions.

As a result of the pressure on the road network within the axis, coupled with other factors, residents, business owners, investors and commuters generally are not finding it easy with the traffic situation in the corridor due to what they have to contend with while using the road daily.

Aside from the deplorable state of some of the roads on the axis, the situation is further compounded by inadequate road infrastructure, roundabouts occupying more than necessary space, delays caused by tolling system at the Lekki-Epe Toll Gate and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge Toll Plaza, and locked drains, among other factors.  

To address the challenges, a stakeholders meeting was held fortnight ago at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Victoria Island chaired by the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with other key government functionaries including the Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat in attendance.

The meeting was held at the instance of the State Government in partnership with major private investors, to present a comprehensive proposal designed by a team of expert in the public transportation sector, to bring about free flow of traffic in the axis.   

The proposed solution, which includes designation of some roads as One-Way, road reconstruction, junction improvement works, traffic systems management measures, among others, was designed by Planet Projects Limited and it is to be funded through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.

In his opening remarks, Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, said the partnership was embarked upon to find a lasting solution to the traffic situation along the axis, being a critical commercial zone.   

Wigwe, whose firm is one of the partners in the PPP model alongside Fidelity Bank, said the major objective of the arrangement is to re-arrange the traffic architecture in the Lekki-Oniru and Victoria Island axis, with the view to reduce travel time and make life comfortable for everybody.

“At the beginning of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s campaign, one of the things he said he would focus on is transportation and traffic management. This obviously is a big problem out here. We have engaged in several discussions with the Governor and we have worked with a consultant to carry out very detailed traffic studies of Lekki-Oniru axis with the view to ensure that we eliminate traffic the way it exists today from Victoria Island up to Oniru and Lekki,” Wigwe said.

Giving details of the proposed solutions, Managing Director of Planet Projects Limited, Mr Biodun Otunola, said from the comprehensive studies carried out, it was discovered that there were five major locations vulnerable to gridlock in the area, which include Sandfill Junction, Akinbolagbe Street, Ligali Ayorinde to Ajose Adeogun, Akinbolagbe Street to Ligali Ayorinde Junction and Muri Okunola Roundabout.   

As part of the proposed solutions, Otunola said all the deplorable roads in the axis must be reconstructed with standard facilities, including drainage system, walkway and streetlight. He said due to the topography of the area, concretised road should be used to replace asphalt to make the road stand the test of time.

“We have also proposed that Akinbolagbe Street has to return to dual carriageway, while most of the roundabouts have to be replaced with signalised light. Some roads will also be classified as One-Way, while old Sandfill-Maroko Road would be constructed to make up for the fact that motorists would no longer be allowed to make left turn at the Oniru Junction of Lekki Expressway/Yesufu Abiodun,” Otunola said.

Responding to concerns raised by stakeholders, especially land-owners and indigenous families in the area, Governor Sanwo-Olu said although there would always be room for continuous engagement and improvement, the ultimate objective of the planned re-arrangement and re-development of the traffic architecture of the axis, was to reduce travel time and make life comfortable for residents.

The Governor said: “Further engagement will continue so that the consultant that is working can go back and take a deep dive to see areas that we can still work on. It is collaborative and it is a PPP engagement. The whole idea is that we want to solve the traffic issue around here; we want to improve travel time. Like we said during the campaign, we cannot just be people without solutions to our issues; we cannot just sit back and fold our arms and say that we cannot get anything out of our challenges. 

“It is an innovative way of solving the traffic challenges we have around here and the fact is there will be inconveniences in terms of where you usually have two minutes to make a turn or a road that is now one-way. I mean just picture the fact that it took a while when some roads in Victoria Island were made one-way traffic for people to understand, and part of this is that we are not just going to leave the people; there would be massive engagement and we would also work with LASTMA (Lagos State Traffic Management Authority) and other agencies as well as put in place enough of road furniture that would tell you where to turn and the areas you cannot enter. There will also be continuous advocacy so that people can have a clear picture of what we are trying to do.”

After the meeting, the Governor and his team which included the Deputy Governor, the Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Gboyega Soyannwo, among other top government functionaries, carried out an on-the-spot assessment of the traffic flashpoints in the area, especially from Victoria Island down to Lekki, Ajah, Abraham Adesanya Roundabout, Admiralty Way and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.

Addressing reporters, Governor Sanwo-Olu announced the decision of the State Government to open the toll plazas at both Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge free to the public for one day during rush hours on Thursday, July 11, 2019. 

Specifically, the Governor declared a toll-free passage at the toll plazas between 6:30am and 9:30am in the morning, and also at the peak period in the evening from 4:30pm to 8pm.

The objective, according to Governor Sanwo-Olu is to allow traffic consultants to the government carry out a comprehensive study of traffic flow around Lekki-Ikoyi-Victoria Island axis, which is part of the initiatives the government is bringing to diffuse vehicular gridlock in major Business Districts in the state.

Sanwo-Olu said: “Tomorrow being Thursday, the toll plazas on the Ikoyi Link Bridge and Lekki-Epe Expressway will be opened free of charge between 6:30am and 9:30am in the morning and also between 4:30pm and 8:00pm in the evening. This is to allow us to do a real simulation of traffic study in these areas that usually witness high density of vehicular movement daily.

“We are currently undertaking a traffic study with our experts and we want to know where the traffic goes to when the tollgates are left open for steady movement. It is only when we do this activity at the peak hour that we will be able to understand how to deal with congestion in this area.”

The Governor added that the undertaking was necessary for the government to take actions that would lead to the reduction of traffic in the axis by at least 50 percent, just as he expressed optimism that the regeneration effort would lead to a reduction in travel time and improved productivity.

“Our government wants to bring about a quick journey time through our traffic solution. The way we want to do it is to have an online real-time study of what the issues are. We are going to analyse the dimension of observed challenges and discuss next steps of solution we are bringing,” he said.

As part of the measures being initiated to achieve free flow of traffic, Governor Sanwo-Olu hinted that the mode of toll collection at the Ikoyi-Link Bridge would completely go electronic, disclosing that a new method of payment would take off in October. 

The Governor, therefore, urged motorists plying the route to apply ahead for electronic access cards at Lagos Tolling Company in compliance with the new service.

He said: “In October, the partners that we are working with will introduce a software that will allow electronic collection of toll fees. This means that motorists will not be paying cash. The process to implement this is on, and we will come up with a seamless electronic solution. 

“We are giving three months notice to residents and motorists to prepare ahead. By the time this is done, we believe some of the bottlenecks in and around Ikoyi would be reduced and we are hoping there would be free flow of traffic.”

He added that the size of the roundabout at the Admiralty Road would also be reduced for the purpose of traffic diffusion.

Besides, Governor Sanwo-Olu also visited the scene of recent flood in Abraham Adesanya Junction to inspect the cause of the clogged drainage in the area, where he announced that the Office of the Drainage Services had been given a task to ensure free flow of water in the clogged drainages and canals in Ajah area.

He said: “Our inspection of Abraham Adesanya Junction in Ajah area is to take necessary assessment of the condition of drainage in the area. We have identified things we need to do to have free flow of water from the area to the lagoon. We are also looking at reduction of the size of the roundabout there. We are coming out with a comprehensive traffic and drainage solutions at the Abraham Adesanya area.

“We have had several complaints about how long it takes people moving around Ajah Bus Stop. We are going to push a major layby where we can take commercial vehicles off the road. We have realised that commercial vehicles are the major cause of traffic at the spot. We are going to push the layby there and cut it off, so that motorists moving inward Victoria Island can have an easy access. We are looking at both lanes to reduce journey time.”

Definitely, the government is on the move to bring about a major re-arrangement of the traffic architecture of the Victoria Island-Lekki-Epe corridor, and the cooperation of the people remains sacrosanct to effect the desired change.

Gboyega Akosile is the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu.

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Lagos Matters

Imota rice mill to produce 650 bags of rice per hour – LASG

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The Lagos State government has said that the Imota rice mill, when completed, will produce 650 bags of 50kg rice per hour.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this while on a tour the site of the mill, to assess the progress of work.

Olusanya, in a statement issued on Thursday in Lagos, expressed satisfaction with the progress of work at the 32 metric-tonnes-per-hour capacity rice mill.

She said that when completed, the mill would be the world’s fourth largest and the biggest in Africa.

The special adviser said that agriculture and food security were important components of the T.H.E.M.E.S Development Agenda of the state government for making Lagos a 21st-century economy.

She expressed government’s commitment to completing the mill, in order to meet the rice demand of the state and indeed, the nation.

”The mill is situated on a landmass of 8.5 hectares of land and each of the two production lines has a capacity of 16 metric tonnes and will produce 650 bags of 50kg rice per hour,” Olusanya said.

She added that the mill was designed, constructed and its equipment installed by local contractors, which underscored the state government’s confidence in the capacity of indigenous engineers.

The governor’s aide said that over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created from the mill when completed, while increased economic activity was also expected at Imota, Ikorodu and the state in general.

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Lagos Matters

Governor Sanwo-Olu presents N1.168 trillion budget for 2020

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday, November 8th presented a budget of N1.168 trillion to the Lagos State House of Assembly for approval for the 2020 fiscal year.    

The proposed budget is to be funded by a projected Total Revenue of N1.071 trillion and a deficit amounting to N97.53 billion. The budget size is higher than the 2019 budget by 34%. Capital Expenditure amounts to N723.75 billion while the Recurrent Expenditure is N444.81 billion, giving a 62:38 capital to recurrent ratio.

According to Sanwo-Olu, “This, in our view, is strong for development. We have placed an increased focus on wealth creation where we will take deliberate steps in courting a partnership between our people and various development institutions.  

“In line with this, we have provided N11.8bn as counterpart funds in preparation for various social impact schemes. In addition, we have made provisions for N7.1bn this year, to provide for industrial hubs, parks, graduate internship programs and virtual markets for artisans. This is in support for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises which are the engines for both economic and employment growth.  

“It is equally proposed that a total of N167.81 billion of the Recurrent Expenditure shall be applied towards personnel costs and other staff-related expenses. This represents 22.02% of the proposed Total Revenue, which is within the acceptable wage policy of 25% of Total Revenue, and includes a provision for the new minimum wage.  

“The budget deficit of N97.53 billion will be financed by both internal and external loans. Since revenue generation is the spine of any budget, this budget supports investment in our revenue generating agencies. This budget seeks to aggressively invest in and develop our education, health and other physical infrastructure sectors. Although our capital spent on works and infrastructure was just N31 billion as at September 2019, as against the 2019 budget proposal of N78 billion, it is our intention to spend N115 billion in 2020,” he said.

The governor said Education would see a significantly increased capital budgetary allocation of N48 billion, an increase of 60% over the 2019 provision of N30 billion, adding that “we must improve the standard and relevance of our education outcomes to our industries. We will work together with our Local governments to strengthen early child education and teachers training/administration, leveraging technology.

“Similarly, in healthcare, we have provided for a capital expenditure of N33 billion, compared to the 2019 budget proposal of N21 billion. We will ensure that our primary health care institutions remain active and attractive to the primary health care needs of our people. Lagos belongs to us all; we will continue therefore to drive partnerships with the private sector in promoting health services within our institutions.  

“Given the perennial challenges of flooding in the metropolis, we have tripled the capital budget provision to tackle this from N3 billion in 2019 to N9 billion in 2020,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu stated that wider consultation was made in the three senatorial districts, in addition to taking memoranda and feedback from stakeholders’ meetings organized by members of the House within their constituencies, which were also attended by Cabinet members, adding that the 2020 Budget would be supported by a Performance Management System that would ensure that, by December 2020,” we shall achieve an optimal budget implementation when compared with previous years. This is in line with our commitment to transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.”

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Lagos Matters

Oniru Throne: Abisogun Family Members At War Over Succession!

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Less than 40 days after the death of a first class monarch in Lagos State, the Oniru of Iruland. His Royal Majesty, Oba Idowu Abiodun Oniru, serious war has reportedly broken out in Abisogun Ruling House over his successor.

It will be recalled that the respected and powerful monarch died in late September, 2019 at the age of 82 after a brief illness.Under the reign of the monarch, Iru land, the host of the highbrow Oniru and Victoria Island, became a mega location with investments and buildings worth hundreds of billions of naira.

We were reliably informed that a tussle has broken down over the throne with many candidates showing interest in the coveted seat.Some of those said to have shown interest in the obaship seat included Wasiu Ogunbambi, Jamiu Adelakun and Saliu Abisogun.Others included Hakeem Ajasa, Fabayi clan, Giwa Otto clan amongst several others.

Reliable sources informed us that lobby has started in high places as some of the candidates were said to have circulated their curriculum vitae among the kingmakers and have started talking to top officials of the Lagos State Government in-charge of chieftaincy affairs in the state.It was gathered that the matter has torn the family apart as none of the candidates was willing to step down for another.Our sources added that what baffled watchers of events in the area is the fact that the crisis broke out just few weeks after the death of the Oba of the town.

“It was only on Friday November 1, 2019 that we did the final burial of Oba Idowu Abiodun Oniru in Eko Hotel. So it is surprising that the candidates for the throne could not even wait for some time before they start fighting over the stool.”Were they waiting for the Oba to die? We all know that the throne is lucrative, but that does not mean that they should start fighting immediately. It is uncalled for,” said a source.

It was however, gathered the kingmakers have started necessary consultations both traditionally and officially, and that the needful would be done in due course, while those interested in the office “have been cautioned to allow the people in-charge due their work so that Iru land would have the right traditional ruler at the right time.”

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