…why the spate of development on the Lekki axis may lead to future transportation chaos
By Saheed Fuhad
In structured societies around the world, the connection between property development and a well mapped out transportation plan cannot be overemphasized. People do not just move about! They move from one property to another. This could be from a residential house to work in an office, market, or a recreational facility. As a result, real estate development experts and planners have always put accessibility into great consideration when projecting for the future as failure to do that simply leads to facility failure. To what extent this fact has been taken into consideration in the ongoing development along the Lekki axis is the focus of this article.
It will be recalled that the construction of the Lekki/Epe road by the administration of Alhaji Lateef Jakande opened up a vast area of land which hitherto had been locked up. Before then Maroko, a slum on the fringe of Victoria Island was the end of the city of Lagos. Beyond that were swampy land with scanty hamlets which were only accessible by sea or foot paths. The story is different today. The Lekki axis is the seat of several luxury estates both government and privately owned which are too numerous to be mentioned. These have attracted movements of people and goods such that the traffic situation as at today is terrible at certain hours of the day. Many Lekki residents living beyond Ajah who want to get to work in Victoria Island or Lagos Island by 8a.m have to always leave home by 5a.m, vice versa when going home after work.
The situation is expected to get worse when the several landmark developments that are earmarked for the axis take off. These include a refinery, an airport, a sea port, an export processing zone (EPZ), a Golf course and many housing estates as well as shopping plazas. One can only imagine the several trailers and trucks that will be plying the Lekki-Epe road bringing in and taking goods from these facilities. “Imagine petrol tankers lifting oil from the refinery. It may be worse than what we see along the Apapa /Oshodi road today. We need to know what the Federal and Lagos state governments are doing about this. They do not have to wait until the bubble bursts before they begin to think of solutions”, Segun Fadugba a real estate developer on the Lekki axis cautions.
In a thinking pattern that seems to be in consonance with that of Fadugba, a number of real estate pundits have given suggestions on how the impending planning disaster can be averted. Mumeen Obada, an Estate Surveyor and Valuer suggests that the Lekki-Epe Expressway should be extended to join the Shagamu-Ore road at Ijebuode as a dual carriage way. “This will divert all traffic going to other parts of the country from passing through Lekki and the city of Lagos”, he says. Obada added that the much talked about coastal road which is to be a continuation of the Ahmadu Bello Way should be constructed to take some traffic off the Lekki- Epe expressway.
Biodun Olopade an Estate Agent who operates majorly in the axis, says the light rail project which Governor Akinwunmi Ambode says will now be operational by the end of 2016 on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway as a mass transit for people should be introduced to the axis as it will greatly relieve the Lekki-Epe expressway of some of the traffic congestions. Olapade also suggested that apart from the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge on Admiralty Way, another bridge should be constructed across the lagoon to join the third mainland bridge at the Adeniji Adele interchange by the third Lekki roundabout. “This will also assist in diverting traffic going to the Mainland from passing through Victoria Island or Ikoyi. It should be given utmost consideration now”, he says.
While Governor Akinwunmi Ambode have also announced that a fly-over bridge will be constructed over the Ajah Roadabout within the next eighteen months, Segun Olayemi a Chartered Town Planner says the initial plan for the expansion of the present Lekki road with toll gates that included the construction of fly – overs at all the points where the road has roundabouts should be implemented. “If this is done, it will go a long way to reduce the buildup of traffic at each of these roundabouts. These should be done as quickly as possible”, Olayemi advised.
According to Olayemi, if these steps are taken the impending traffic chaos that will eventually characterize the Lekki axis as is the situation in Apapa can be eliminated. “The process must start now before the proposed developments are completed. Unless this is done, the Lekki axis is a time bomb only waiting to explode, traffic wise”, he warns.