Non-functioning street lights worsen insecurity in Lagos

  The authorities of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, regularly refer to the state as a megacity but are yet to guarantee functioning street...

 

The authorities of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, regularly refer to the state as a megacity but are yet to guarantee functioning street lights.

Gbagada – Oshodi – Apapa expressway, Lekki – Epe expressway, Igando – LASU road, Maryland – Mobalaji Bank Anthony, Ajah, Abule Egba, Iyana Ipaja, Ejigbo, Iju road, Oba Akran, Obafemi Awolowo, Toyin Street, Bode Thomas, Lawanson Road, the list is endless, are all without functional street lights.

The situation in locations like in Ikeja GRA, Alausa, Victoria Island, Oniru, Lekki, Ikoyi, and a few others, is better. But residents believe the government must give the entire populace a sense of belonging to avoid being labelled as an incumbency that focuses on the elite, leaving the masses to suffer.

Residents are groaning over the darkness that pervades several areas amid the increasing insecurity. It is now so bad that tales of agonizing experiences are shared at homes, offices, places of worship, beer parlours, and on social media every day.

Simeon, a Surulere resident said he had, at different times, heard people complain how unsafe they feel in Lagos at dark hours.

“The government should fix the problem urgently. When I’m returning from work, the only place I see lights on is Adeniran Ogunsanya.

“But the ones on Itire road, Ogunlana drive, Akobi crescent, as well as Adelabu, Akerele, Adekunle Kuye streets and others are mostly off. It’s not good”, he grumbled.

Not many will argue that in most cases, the atrocities being perpetrated by robbers and kidnappers are done in the dark. Why is the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration not doing enough to rectify this identified root cause?

The attitude of the powers that be in giving credence to the allegations in some quarters that “untouchables” got contracts for maintenance of street lights and supply of diesel used for alternative electricity to power the poles remain worrisome to residents.

In August 2019, when the cabinet was sworn in, Sanwo-Olu told his commissioners and special advisers to “be prepared to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, and support or oppose whomever, in order to accomplish our grand ambition of building one of the great cities of the 21st century.”

The governor described Lagos as “a beacon of social, commercial and political excellence for the rest of our dear nation”. But residents say he must know that Lagos is becoming a laughingstock due to the uncertainty from dusk to dawn.

People step out in the morning and are scared to be outside from late evening due to the activities of criminals. Phones get stolen, bags are snatched, cars are broken into, ‘one chance’ operators now bolder, yet lights are off!

“When my phone and laptop was snatched some weeks ago under the Ajah bridge around 10p.m., the place was dark”, Festus, residing at Badore, lamented. Hundreds of other victims have lost valuables in similar circumstances since thieves are bolder in and around pitch-black environment.

Should street lights be a topical issue in a state making huge money monthly? The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) established that Lagos recorded N204.51billion Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the first half of 2020.

Within the same period, according to the NBS, the IGR for 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was N612.87billion. Therefore, Lagos generated one-third of the total interior revenue realized in Nigeria!

Sanwo-Olu confirmed the blueprint for a new Lagos and the Development Plan (2012 to 2025) is still relevant “as strategic reference materials for a systematic implementation of medium and long-term policies”. If the plan of action did not make provision for adequate and effective illumination of roads and streets, now is the time to include.

The current leadership mapped out an agenda summarized in the acronym T.H.E.M.E.S. – Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism; Security and Governance.

Lagosians have now reminded the government that the subject matter is important to the realization and success of the “six pillars”; and that comparisons are being made with previous administrations in terms of infrastructure development.

In his reaction, Energy Commissioner, Olalere Odusote pledged that efforts are on to get lights across Lagos working.

“All lights including bad poles and cables are currently being replaced under the retrofit program”, Odusote said in a reply to enquiry.

The Police Command assured there have been a heavy placement of resources to the nooks and crannies of the state.

“Men have been deployed to strategic places both on covert and overt operations to checkmate the activities of the hoodlums”, Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi said.

“At night, operatives embark on convoy patrol to monitor the state and respond to distress calls in each of the 14 area Command’s including the waterways and riverine communities.

“We have been partnering with other security agencies and Vigilante groups to Police the state at dusk to dawn.”

The spokesman, however, advised residents to avoid night movement as much as possible.

“They are urged to identify points where policemen keep watch; not to stop at any strange or unusual points that could be set-ups. They must light up their areas at night for better visibility.”

The PRO further advocated the exchange of phone numbers with community leaders, night guards and Police officers within reach in case of emergency.

Nigerians and foreigners visit Lagos week in, week out. If the street lights are not working, will local and international investors be convinced Lagos is a place to commit funds?

The citizens are struggling to cope with economic, personal and national challenges. Their lives and property must be secured. Governor Sanwo-Olu and his administration should light up Lagos now. The people are not only taking notes, the books of history have a place for everyone.

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