By James Adeleye
The Agege-Pen Cinema Bridge is completed and I’m happy. Anyone that has not visited that axis in the last two years may be lost. This is because the imposing 1.7km bridge has forever changed the Pen Cinema skyline, dwarfing its surrounding and availing motorists and pedestrians a view of the city hitherto reserved for occupiers of tall buildings. No doubt, this bridge represents what development is all about.
Just looking at the bridge is pleasant. The overpass ascends from Oba Ogunji Road and drops at Oke Koto axis of Agege; it also opens to the old Lagos-Abeokuta expressway through Abule Egba. But beyond the aesthetics, it’s going to improve the flow of traffic around that axis. I would no longer need to wait for odd hours of the day to move around.
Previously, that axis was traffic prone, especially in the peak periods. And it was just as worse during the construction that has lasted about three years as motorists plying that route suffered with the closure.
In major cities of the world, traffic has been a source of concern for many governments. In Lagos, the perennial traffic is a major cause for concern. It doesn’t help that the city, with over 20 million population, still constantly attracts more people. But thankfully, the Lagos State government rises to confront the challenge.
As part of events to mark its 50th anniversary as a state in 2017, the Lagos State government built two bridges – Jubilee Bridge at (Lekki) and Jubilee Bridge at Abule Egba. Prior to their constructions, those spots were notorious for being bottlenecks and motorists could sometimes be trapped there for hours. But movement along those places has become a breeze.
After that, the administration of the former state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, conceived the bridge project in order to ameliorate the traffic on that axis. At the Total junction, vehicles on the Old Abeokuta Expressway and vehicles were usually narrowed to a snail’s speed or stand still. Ditto was the case for vehicles on Oba Ogunji Road, Iju Road and Agunbiade Road which also narrowed at Total junction and Pen Cinema roundabout. Usually clogged during peak hours, that axis had gained notoriety for its traffic congestions despite the presence of traffic officers. But that would now be conscripted to the past because the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration has finally answered the prayers of motorists that ply the Agege-Pen Cinema axis.
It is a thing of joy that the bridge is finally finished despite the delay it suffered in the hands of the last administration. At the period when Ambode lost the nomination ticket for re-election as governor in his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), work at the site dragged at a slow pace. But the coming of Sanwo-Olu as governor however, resurrected the project and the tempo of work increased. Earlier, the Sanwo-Olu administration had announced June 2020 as the date of completion of the bridge. But by May 2020 when the administration was one year in office, it shifted the date of completion to September.
And in December when Sanwo-Olu inspected the bridge, he said that the project was at 90 percent completion and expressed his satisfaction.
“The level of completion of the project is around 90 percent,” said Sanwo-Olu.
“All the major brickwork has been done and we are left with two major deliverables, which include cleaning up the intersection and signalisation.
“This is in fulfilment of the promise we made that we will complete all projects abandoned. We are giving the contractor handling this project a maximum of eight weeks to attend to little snags in the project.”
Like what happened with the Jubilee Bridge at Abule Egba, the completion of this bridge will improve traffic for commuters in the area. I can’t wait to experience the ease. No more rigmarole and being held in traffic unnecessarily. Already, the portion of the Old Abeokuta Expressway underneath the bridge has been opened and the movement is more straightforward than it was before the reconstruction. I expect that is just a teaser of what is coming when the bridge is finally opened to public use.
For that, I give kudos to the Sanwo-Olu administration. But as they say, reward for good work is more work. I expect such intervention in infrastructure to typify Lagos. As the Agege-Pen Cinema flyover has now been completed, it would be good for the state government to also identify spots in Lagos that may be deserving of such road infrastructure.
Though I know resources are scarce and wants are unlimited, the state government can also look at erecting a flyover at Fagba bus stop on Iju Road. In fact, in May 2018, after an inspection of the Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge, Ambode approved the construction of a flyover bridge at the Fagba intersection to ease the. The former governor had said the state would have to reduce the traffic around the Agege-Iju axis to make Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge more effective.
“Iju Road which is one of the major roads in Lagos State has over the years served as a strategic growth pole in the socio- economic landscape of the state has overgrown its present traffic carrying capacity resulting in the traffic challenges being experienced presently,” Ambode said.
“The proposed flyover bridge at Fagba will be constructed concurrently with the ongoing Pen Cinema flyover and accelerated to minimize the inconvenience of the motoring and commuting public during the period of construction.
“The bridge which will have a dual carriageway separated by concrete median barrier will allow seamless flow of traffic into Jonathan Coker for vehicular movement from College Road/Pen Cinema and vice versa for traffic from Jonathan Coker Road that are Iju or College Road bound.”
Now, that the Agege-Pen Cinema bridge is finished, I believe Sanwo-Olu should face the construction at Fagba bus stop. The T-Junction of Iju Road and Jonathan Coker Road is a vital arterial road that needs to be reconstructed for easier flow of traffic.
Though Ambode started the Pen Cinema Flyover, forever, it would be Sanwo-Olu that would be remembered for delivering it. Sanwo-Olu should do well to also initiate big projects. He does not need to think of new ones. He may just like he did with the Agege-Pen Cinema Flyover, complete others. He may even begin those already approved but their constructions are yet to begin.
The provision of far-reaching infrastructures like bridges should be done. And it is very good that within his first year in office, Sanwo-Olu commissioned 37 road projects and repaired 354 roads. The state is also embarking on other road projects at Agric-Ishawo Road and the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Fourth Mainland Bridge and Lekki Regional Road.
We need Sanwo-Olu to do more. And he can do it. He should do it.
- Adeleye writes from Lagos.