The ‘Light Up Lagos’ project embarked upon by the Lagos State government is beginning to yield remarkable results though not without some challenges as captured by AKIN ADEWAKUN AND CHUKS OKPARAOCHA in this report.
He stood stupefied, dumbfounded and temporarily lost in his admiration of what had become that old rowdy former federal capital, Lagos, where he had done his youth service more than two decades ago. Some of the old, dilapidated buildings that used to dot the landscape then had given way to new and modern ones. Some hitherto inaccessible roads had suddenly become dualised with flowers and trees lining both sides of such roads to enhance their aesthetics and that of the city.
What of the very popular, rough and tough Oshodi Market and its environs that used to be a nightmare for him and his stranger colleagues who had also come to fulfil the mandatory one year service to their fatherland then? Could this well- lit and better organised market be the relics of that Oshodi of yore?
Those were some of the thoughts ‘assailing’ the minds of Nnadozie, a one time youth corp member who served in Lagos State as he drove through the city recently.
Nnadozie was in Lagos for his National Youth Service Corps in 1989 and had not been back to the city until recently, when he had cause to attend a seminar sponsored by his office in the city, and he was ‘over-whelmed’ by the pleasant spectacle that confronted him on entering the city.
Though it is not yet uhuru and the journey to becoming a mega city is still far for this metropolis that still prides itself as one of the most popular cities in the world. For him, the city is gradually wearing a new look and may not be far from that mega-city status.
Interestingly, Nnadozie is not alone in this new assessment of Lagos! Many Nigerians, especially those who had not visited the city in the past few years, are always surprised at the spectacle that now confronts them whenever they breeze into the city nowadays.
One of the spectacles that usually leave a visitor ‘gasping for breath’ on entering the city is the unique spectacle of the city at nights, a result of the present government’s Light Up Lagos Campaign that is gradually seeing the city wearing a new look.
Since the advent of the Third Republic, various governments in the state have always professed their determination to turn the city into a mega city that would be able rub shoulders with other mega ones in any part of the globe.
But, out of all the developmental projects that had been executed in the past ten years, which have resulted in enhanced basic amenities within the city, the one many believe has continued to catch the fancy of residents is the Lagos Light up project, which has its focus on illuminating every nook and cranny of the city.
Besides enhancing the city and building residents’ confidence in government, the Light Up Project, embarked upon by the present government, since assuming office on May 29, 2015, is being seen in most quarters as a major move that has enhanced the social and economic activities of the residents of the city.
For instance, from Ikorodu Road to Agidingbi, Pen Cinema Road, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Egbeda, and Oshodi among others where the street lights stand tall on those communities, the stories and excitements are the same.
Residents of these communities, who spoke with the Nigerian tribune, noted that despite the drop in power, people whose streets are presently benefitting from the project that now enjoy night-light, unlike in the past when those communities were thrown in utter darkness.
For instance, some residents argued that besides illuminating their surroundings, the project, which is still ongoing, had brought a new lease of life to them, adding that night businesses had received a significant boost, while security of lives and properties had also been enhanced.
According to the residents, the availability of street lights has brought a positive turnaround in their neighbourhoods, mainly in the areas of security, enhancing visibility for night travellers, as well as providing a modicum of illumination in adjoining communities, especially those close to the main roads, where the street lights are sited.
At Agbado-Ijaiye and Oke Odo areas of Lagos, residents said the street lights had helped lighten up various sections of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, that were once described as “dangerous spots”
The residents unanimously commended the state government for erecting street lights on the ever busy express road, saying the project would also help provide security not just on the road but also in their respective neighbourhoods.
Narrating his experience on Pleasure Area of Agege Motor Road, Alhaji Mufutau Mokan believed he would not have been robbed of his hard-earned money if such facilities had existed six years ago when he was robbed on that spot.
‘It had rained on that fateful Friday and I was coming from Abule Egba only for my vehicle to develop a fault somewhere around that Pleasure Area. Before I could come down and check what was amiss, about four guys had appeared from nowhere, drew out a gun, searched me and the vehicle and made away with the money I was holding,’ he narrated.
According to Mokan, they were able to do that successfully hecause it was pitch dark and nobody was ready to stop by and rescue him.
Another resident and landlord at Dada Olowu Street area of General, Mr Hakeem Opeifa, said that the lighting had helped create a new form of life in his community, especially at night.
‘Before now, once it was getting dark, the entire community would automatically become dark, especially anytime there was no light from PHCN. But now, even in the face of serious blackout from PHCN, light from the expressway often has a way of illuminating sections of our community,’ he said.
A trader at Oja Oba area of Abule Egba, Mr Olusoga Demola, posited that the lighting had reduced the activities of social miscreants popularly referred to as Area Boys along the axis.
“We all know that miscreants generally feel safe in darkness but when light exposes them, they run away and will not be able to carry out their nefarious activities. This is one of the things the street light project has done for us,’’ he said.
“We thank the governor for coming up with this noble idea, we pray it is not only sustained, but also extended to other inner roads in remote communities,’’ he added.
Similar views were shared with a cross-section of residents in other communities including Amadiya, Abule Taylor and Awori, all of who attested to the fact that even the beauty of the express road at night had been brought out by the street lights.
A driver who plies the route everyday and often does so at night, equally noted that the availability of the street lights had made travelling at night on the ever busy and traffic-laden road, to be safer than before.
“Now, people travel at night without nursing the fear of bumping into bad portions on the road, which was the case before now due to poor visibility. But now, while driving, a driver can see the road ahead clearly, even if his vehicle lights are not bright enough,” he stated.
Madam Taiwo, a foodseller in Iyana Ipaja, explained to Nigerian Tribune that she had been able to extend her working hours because she felt more secured in that environment now because of the functional street light now installed in the area.
‘This has really enhanced my business and those of others in this area. We feel more secured now operating late into the night,’ she stated.
But one area the residents would however want the government to improve upon is the state of the generators powering the street lights, as some of the residents noted that at times, one or two of the generators would go off thus throwing the road back into darkness.
‘I believe once we get these things right, Lagos is really on its way to becoming a mega city. Definitely, this light up Lagos project will go a long way in waking up this mega city,’ quipped a resident.