Between 3 a.m and 4 a.m while many others are still in bed sleeping and snoring, or perhaps enjoying an early morning carousing with their spouses, workers on Lagos Island, especially those residing on the outskirts of Lagos are already at the motor parks and bus stops struggling to catch a bus or okada (before the clampdown) in order to get to their offices on time. Worst still, some of them still arrive their offices late. They have bad roads and the Lagos traffic logjam to blame and high transport fare to contend with. P.M.NEWS Metro encountered some of them and they shared their experience, full of agony, regret and lamentation.
Oluwaseun Asubiojo is a banker with a first generation bank. He resides at Ijegun in an obscure area called Afunrugbin, in Igando/Ikotun Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Lagos State.
For some months, he had a bitter experience of what an average worker on Lagos Island encounter daily.
He narrates his ordeal: “My experience in the last few months is unforgettable. It makes me imagine how people could cope residing in far distances from their work place and making such harrowing trips daily or at least five or six days every week.
“I used to reside at one extreme part of Ijegun, off Ijegun-Ijagemo road. Then my only heartache was the bad road, I had little or no problem reaching my office at Dopemu in good time. However, things changed quickly the day I got my transfer letter to our bank’s branch on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi on Lagos Island.
“To keep my record of punctuality, I have to wake between 3.30 a.m and 4 a.m to catch five different buses. And after closing, the routine begins again. I used to return home between 11 p.m and midnight. I had little time to rest.
“My transport fare to and from the office daily was N2,100 and about N15,000 a week and N57,960 monthly. Transport alone was taking a big chunk of my take home pay. Having a car could not solve the problem. Much money was expended on the car and in some instances, car maintenance had to wait for some other urgent family needs. In no time I lost some weight. My family was not comfortable too. My wife was always worried and might not have her super until my return from office. After about five months, I was forced to relocate to Egbeda. I now wake up 5 a.m to 5.30 a.m and by 9 p.m, I’m back from office.”
Mr. Abass Kaska is a landlord in Ijagemo in Iba LCDA, Lagos. His day used to begin at 3 a.m. but in most cases, he would trek from Ijagemo to Ijegun, a distance of about three kilometres. The commercial motorcyclists (okada riders) are not yet on the road at that period of the day.
He narrates: “Leaving home early does not even solve my problem. Many times I used to trek to Ijegun or on a few occasions, I might get a ride midway. Then from Ijegun, I will board a bus to Ikotun and from there to CMS bus stop. Other things being equal, I arrive my office on time. But coming back, I may return home at about 11 p.m, which means on any working day, I have an average of three or four hours to rest.”
Kaska lamented that his car could not give him relief from his daily agony because the Ijagemo-Ijegun road is so terrible and may be impassable for up to three months in a year. The cost of maintaining the car compounded the whole problem. Because the family members too were affected, the Kaskas were forced to relocate to Ijegun, close to the last bus stop. The family now lives in Ijagemo on weekends.
“Because we reside near Ijegun bus stop, I can now wake up by 5 a.m and get to CMS bus stop before 7 a.m. I will then locate a mosque around CMS where I say my early morning prayer before going to the office,” he said.
Another landlord who pleaded anonymity was forced to ‘abandon’ his house at Igbogbo in Igbogbo/Baiyeku LCDA, Lagos State when he was weighed down by having to wake up early, arriving home late and high transport fares. He returned to the drawing board and decided to rent a flat around Oworonshoki. From there he could wake up 6 a.m and arrive his office on Lagos Island before 8 a.m.
Traffic gridlock, high transport fare and related challenges forced another Ijagemo landlord, Mr. Gabriel Olusola Oyelude to retire prematurely to settle down to his personal business.
In 2009, he usually chartered an okada from Ijagemo to Ijegun at about 5 a.m. At times, he would mount another okada from Ikotun to Mushin or Cele-Express bus stop.
And finally, he would struggle to arrive at his Lagos Island office on time. On a good day, he used to return home by 9 p.m or 10 p.m.
“Then, I used to spend an average of N1,100 to N1,200 daily on transport. As a good Christian, I was faithful to my God by paying tithe out of my meager earnings. I was usually broke. I had little or no money to have my lunch in the office. I therefore decided to call it quits,” Oyelude recounted.
Mr. Fatai Bello resides at Oju Oore, Ota, Ogun State. He works with a federal parastatal in Oshodi. Even though he does not travel to the Island daily, he told P.M.NEWS Metro that he has to wake up early enough to beat the traffic jam around Sango, the old toll gate and Abule Egba, to be able to make office on time.
Mr. Paul Ifaturoti, a geologist worked for an Italian firm at Gbagada, Lagos for about two decades before he decided to retire into private business because of the challenges he encountered both in the office and the titanic struggle from his house to work everyday.
A landlord at NEPA Phase I area of Ijagemo, Ifaturoti said he had to wake up 5 a.m and set out as soon as possible to escape the perennial traffic snarl around Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Isolo. The road is about the only one that links Ijegun with Isheri-Oshun, Jakande Estate, Isolo and Oshodi. He said the only alternative route, Ijegun-Ikotun-Iyana-Ipaja to Oshodi was not only long and cumbersome but worse than the biblical ‘Israelite’s journey.’
“Each day I was able to leave my house at about 5 a.m and I was lucky to beat the Jakande Estate traffic snarl, I had hopes of getting to the office on time. But the bad roads like Ijagemo-Ijegun and Isheri-Oshun-Jakande took their toll on my vehicle. I spent a lot of money to maintain my car.
“When I count the cost of car maintenance, the inconveniences of waking up early and returning home late, I was constrained to retire to my own business. Moreso, I was working for an expatriate firm whose policy does not favour my elevation to managerial level in good time. I was an assistant manager, and only a few slots were there for Nigerian managers. This, coupled with bad roads and traffic challenges, contributed to my early retirement,” he disclosed.
Generally, an average worker travelling from the Mainland to Lagos Island is held up in traffic on an average of seven hours ( to and fro) or more; he expends much money on transport and must rise early in the morning and in most cases return home late at night.