Governor Ambode and the Mile 12 Traffic

Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of L
Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos

Governor Ambode and the Mile 12 Traffic

By Azuka Onwuka

Last year, I wrote a story (“Can Ambode break the Mile 12 traffic jinx?) in The Punch. That same day, I received a call from Mr Habib Aruna, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, assuring me that the governor had some plans for the notorious Mile 12 traffic.

Not long after that, I drove past Mile 12 and noticed that some work was going on there. Weeks later, it became clear that the service lane was being fenced off to prevent commercial bus drivers from jumping from the speed lane to the service lane. In addition, a pedestrian bridge was being constructed there. Both have been completed.

I had taken that route a couple of times in the past three months and was amazed at how free it was. I am not talking of the rush hour (morning and evening). I have not tried the route during rush hour to see if there is a difference.

But before the action Ambode took on Mile 12, driving through it even at 10 a.m.or 2 p.m. was never an easy task. The commercial bus drivers would usually park on the service lane at the foot of the bridge, dropping off or picking up passengers. In spite of the efforts of police men and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials, that action of the bus drivers always caused traffic to build up from Mile 12 backwards towards Ikorodu for about two kilometres even after rush hour. One could spend an hour or more to get to Mile 12 at such off-peak periods. One could only imagine how hellish it would be during rush hour. I had spent between three and five hours between Ikorodu and Mile 12 a number of times. On one occasion, to avoid the Mile 12 traffic, I had taken the Ajah-Lekki route on my way back from the Ikorodu axis. And a journey of 33 kilometres through Mile 12 turned to 140 kilometres through Ajah!

It is a mark of leadership to listen to the yearnings of the people and provide solutions to their problems. One thing that is gaining ground about Ambode is that he listens to the people’s complaints and reacts promptly. For example, the administration of Dr Gooluck Jonathan started the reconstruction of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos some years ago. The part from Mile 2 to Cele Bus Stop had been completed. But from Ilasamaja junction to Oshodi was not done before Jonathan left. The Ilasamaja/Ballet area, which experiences huge flooding, speedily deteriorated. The potholes turned to craters. With the coming of the rains this year, it became a dangerous place because trucks with containers and petrol from the Apapa wharf constantly fell there. The risk of crushing a car close to them was high. The traffic jam became hellish. People were spending three hours and more at that section of the road. After experiencing it once earlier this year, I avoided that road. But my friends who work in the Mile 2/Amuwo Odofin area, who had to bear it or embark on a merry-go-round journey through Ikorodu Road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Badagry Expressway, could hardly avoid the road. Sometimes they had to try the other biblical Israelites’ journey of taking the Akowonjo route to Igando/LASU, then to Badagry Expressway. But there is no guaranty that these two routes will even be free of traffic.

My friend, Mr Tope Adeboboye, who works at The Sun, after lamenting about the terrible state of the Ilasamaja section of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, took the campaign personal by writing about the road in the newspaper and posting pictures of the road on Facebook almost everyday. Other people wrote about the road in the newspapers and social media. Ambode made a stopover there in May and promised to repair the road even though it is a federal road. In June he fulfilled his promise.

During the tenure of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the governor of Lagos, the way he responded to the bad sections of the federal roads in the state was to mount billboards that read: “This is a federal road.” Many past and present governors have similar attitude to federal government roads that pass through their states. The federal government will not rehabilitate its roads; those state governors will not rehabilitate the federal roads within their territories. The federal government officials are far away in Abuja and do not feel the pain of the people who use the road daily. So for Ambode to respond to the plight of those who ply the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is commendable.

Similarly, many people have complained of the state of the road in their neighbourhood in Lagos. But not long after they would commend the dispatch with which the governor responded to the rehabilitation of the road in their neighbourhood.

Shortly after assuming office last year, Ambode toured some parts of the state. One of the areas he visited was the Berger area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. To avoid deaths and reduce traffic gridlock around the area, he promised to construct a pedestrian bridge there. I drove past that area this weekend and saw that the bridge was nearing completion.

Similarly, he has found a solution to the crossing of highways by pedestrians. The most obvious is on Ikorodu Road. During the military regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984/85, soldiers used horsewhips and other forms of punishment on pedestrians who crossed the road. When General Ibrahim Babangida took over in 1985, he introduced some barricade on the median.

Lagos Traffic

  • Lagos traffic

After the 1990 Gideon Orkar coup which made Babangida to hurriedly relocate to Abuja, the duty fell mainly on Laos State governors to find a solution to pedestrians crossing the road, getting knocked down and also causing traffic jam. When Tinubu became the Lagos State governor in 1999, he introduced the mobile courts, which tried and sentenced pedestrians. When Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola took over in 2007, he decided to reason with the pedestrians by stationing officials who explained to them the dangers of crossing the road. All these efforts had minimal or temporary successes.

Ambode has introduced something different. He has constructed double barricade on the median on the highways. Then he has stationed members of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) near the footbridges. The first day I saw the 200-metre-long, snaky queue of those waiting to climb the Ojota pedestrian bridge, I could not believe my eyes. Because of that human traffic, a new pedestrian bridge is being constructed at Ojota, about 200 metres from the current one.

However there are many roads that need the attention of Ambode. I recently went to help a relative pick up his child at Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Agunfoye-Lugbusi village, some 20 kilometres from Ikorodu. I was particularly excited to visit this school which kidnappers attacked early this year. I received the shock of my life. The two-kilometre road leading to the school from the Ijebu-Ode Road looked like a road that witnessed a war. A pregnant woman would readily lose her pregnancy after plying that road.

I plied that road some 10 years ago and never believed it would still be in that terrible state. I thought that the kidnap incident that brought the high and mighty to the school would have made the governor to rehabilitate the road as a form of compensation that would help the children get over the trauma of that horrific experience.

The state of that road also points to the fact that most of the developments are concentrated on the city centres. But during electioneering campaigns, those in the hinterlands are remembered. Ambode should break from such a tradition and spread his projects to the hinterland too.


  1. Rotimi Akinyemi Mr. July 26, 2016 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka July 26, 2016 Reply

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