That a complete rural or a semi-urban environment could be transformed into a 21st century urban status in the face of the enormous economic and security challenges which Nigeria is currently facing may appear a mirage, but the reality on ground is that an unprecedented transformation is ongoing in Epe, a Lagos suburb.
To those familiar with Epe, the township is one of the oldest six divisions that Lagos State is comprised of. Others are Ikorodu, Badagry, Lagos Island, the Mainland and Ikeja. But of all, Epe has been less fortunate to witness any form of modernisation.
However, by a stroke of luck or divine intervention, a new dawn has berthed in Epe, courtesy of the governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, who is turning this once agrarian/fishing community into a modern community.
Two projects aimed at Epe’s transformation in recent times are infrastructure provision, especially road networks and tourism development.
During the flag-off ceremony of what officials described as “the world class Epe-Marina Lagoon reclamation project” recently, the latter was aimed at giving a quantum leap to the tourism potentials of the state. But to make tourism development meaningful, it was considered that road construction had become imperative.
Ambode, who was accompanied on the inspection tour by top government functionary at that time, stated that the lagoon reclamation projects in Epe and Badagry, upon completion, would look like that of Dubai in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Epe-Marina Lagoon reclamation project is a complete redevelopment of project site to facilitate development of the area and promote tourism. It comes with sand filling to the lagoon of up to about 200 meters and dualisation of the network of roads in the axis with functional walkways.
The road network project stands out as one ambitious vision which places Epe on the map of fast growing communities in Lagos with the possibility of attracting migration from the metropolis.
The project, handled by Messrs Granebury Construction as contractor, is to be executed in three phases and involves rehabilitation of strategic/arterial/inner roads.
The Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ganiyu Johnson, listed the roads to include Lagos Road, Oke Osho/T Junction, Aiyetoro/ Roundabout; Central Mosque Junction/Orita Marun Stream, all categorised as ‘Grade A.’ Others are Oloja Estate; Bature/Otunba Adeniyi/Omotayo/Uthman Mustapha and Raman/Ishawu Owolabi, which are in category ‘B.’
However, according to Johnson, it is imperative for people to know that properties that fall on the right-of-way (ROAs) would need to go, but that as a responsible government, the state government wants to carry everyone along in the execution of the project.
Realising that there can be no gain without some level of pain and discomfort, he said the project would affect some existing structure in order to achieve the desired right-of -way and this was successfully excuted, thereby keeping the project going in an acceleration speed.
Currently, the road project is 60 per cent completion stage with drainage facilities almost completed, especially, from Oke-Osho/T-Junction axis, Odomola/Orita Marun-Ita -Opo.
Apart from drainage facility, some section of the road are just waiting for asphalt overlay, while others are witnessing unusual progress despite the seemingly unfavourable weather, as it has been rainy ceaselessly for quite sometime.
Speaking on why the Epe-Marina and Badagry-Marina projects were embarked upon simultaneously by the state government, Governor Ambode said “We want to actually duplicate what you see in Dubai-Marina. This is a whole stretch of two kilometers of real estate and new tourist centres that we are putting in Epe and Badagry at the same time.
“We believe strongly that coming out from our retreat that we said we are going to grow the IGR of Lagos State by 2017 to N30 billion and 2018 to N50 billion, we believe that some of these projects that we are commencing now are just inlets to our dream of growing the IGR.
“We know that by the time we are expanding tourism potentials of Badagry and Epe at the same time, we will be able to get new investors that will be able to come to our new locations to do other things beyond what you see about recreation, tourism or entertainment and then get a whole lot of investments into Lagos State. This is part of our dreams and dreams do come true.
“We are looking at the future of tourism from both axis. You cannot put tourism in those places without doing the infrastructure that is required to allow people to come in and that is why we are also doing the road network,” the governor said.
Reacting to these initiatives, the traditional ruler of Epe, Oba Kamorudeen Animashaun, while admitting that Epe, out of the six divisions that Lagos comprised had suffered neglect for long.
“However, we thank God and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for this opportunity. We will support the project and it is compulsory, because Epe is now faced with unimaginable developmental projects.
“We have Lagos Free Trade Zone, the proposed airport, fertilizer plant by Dangote Groups and others like that. At the end of the day, it is Epe that would benefit most,” said the traditional ruler.
Oba of Noforija, Babatunde Ogunlaja, while assuring the contractor of molest-free engagement in the course of executing the project, urged parents to warn their wards and children.
“We don’t want the governor to regret coming with this laudable project. Let us all join hands to ensure that its successful completion,” pleaded the traditional ruler, and truly there has been a tremendous coopration since the commencement of the project.
From women group came the pleading for immediate rehabilitation of some portions along Epe-Temu, Imota Agbowa and Isiu axis where there are craters and potholes.
Mrs Khadijat Ibiyemi, one of the women leader said while the road network within Epe Township is admirable, there is need to address the road leading from the town to places like Ijebu Ode, Ibeju, Ketu-Epe, the three major roads to Epe Township.