By Yemi Olakitan
The Lagos State Government under its immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode launched the Light Up Lagos initiative with huge budgetary allocation for maintenance and sustenance. The project was a success, only for a while. Since a new administration under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu came into power; the continuum that is required to sustain the project is not yet in the kitty, it seems.
Go round Lagos; partial or total darkness in the nights in many areas, is noticeable compared to the early days of the project, when it was first launched although some Lagosians have argued that that the lights had been occasionally epileptic long before the administration of Babajide Sanwoolu was inaugurated.
The situation of darkness continues for reasons yet unclear as many areas still experience thick darkness at nights. You dare not be caught in some parts of Lagos at such hours.
Hoodlums have taken an undue advantage of the situation. Many Nigerians living in Lagos have come to appreciate the value of those lights especially on our highways. In a situation where Lagos has witnessed the inflow of hundreds of aliens from Niger, Chad, Togo and other neighboring countries, these lights have become even more necessary for security reasons since darkness cannot operate in the midst of lights. And it’s been said that the dog appreciates his tail more when it is cut off. Lagosians have now realised the importance of street lights more than they ever did.
AN24.net gathered that the lights in Agidingbi, Ojota to Kudirat Abiola road are no longer working. Some of the poles have one bulb instead of two. At Ikorodu, many of the polls have dead bulbs without lights. Oshodi which used to be like Paris at night because of all the shining lights, is no longer like that. In fact, it is very dangerous to walk through some parts of Oshodi because of the darkness of the nights. It’s the same situation at Third Mainland Bridge as many poles are no longer with the usual bright lights at nights. At Gbagada there are no lights, same as Ojodu Berger and Alaba International Market.
It seems, however, that the poor maintenance culture prevalent in Nigeria and has affected the lights up project after all. The question on the lips of many is this: when will the lights be restored?
In a chat with Elder Bayo Emmanuel Ishola, a trader in the Agbara axis of Lagos, said, ‘the disappearing streets lights are an evidence of our lack of continuity. As we can see in the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode, who abandoned most of the projects of his predecessor. An example is the Lagos- Badagry Expressway which was abandoned until Governor Sanwanolu came on board. We are thankful that work has started on that road now. I want to believe that we are not going to experience the same thing in the area of streets lights since it was initiated by former Governor Ambode. I want to call on our current Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to take the bull by the horn. He must not abandon Ambode’s projects simply because he didn’t initiate them himself. At the end, it is Lagos that will suffer for it.
AN24.net spoke with the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso on the situation. He said, ‘‘one of the reasons why some of the streets lights are not functioning is because the contractors have not received their monies for a long time. They are just receiving the monies after the administration of Governor Babajide came on board. And they have started working. We are pushing stealthily to ensure that the streets of Lagos are lighted up. Our efforts will ensure that the lights cover every parts of Lagos. I can assure you. It will reach every corner of Lagos state, normally when roads are being constructed; the streets lights are erected simultaneously. The changes you have noticed are because we are coming in newly and we have started working on the problem. The Commissioner assured AN24.net that the administration of Babajide Sanwanolu will ensure that streets lights are functioning in every parts of Lagos state. ‘‘We will not abandon any project,’’ he said.
AN24.net made efforts to speak with Hon. Lere Odusote, Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources but he was not available for comments.