By Grace Alegba
Dr Idris Salako, Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, on Thursday condemned the vandalism of newly installed highway wire mesh panels in some parts of the state.
Salako told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that some of the highway wire mesh panels around Adekunle towards the Third Mainland Bridge Ramp and Oko Baba areas had been vandalised.
The commissioner blamed saw millers at Oko Baba for the vandalism of the fence.
Salako said his ministry was planning an immediate sensitisation exercise for the saw millers who used Third Mainland Bridge Adekule Ramp as a loading point for wood and timber.
He said the saw millers used those areas as transit to load on the bridge and in so doing damaged the wire mesh panels.
He also said an existing overhead bridge designed for a different purpose was being used by saw millers across the Adekunle Ramp on Third Mainland Bridge as a bus stop, which he described as risky and illegal.
Salako said the new highway fence was made from iron for durability and served the purpose of safety and to beautify the environment.
NAN correspondent who visited the area reports that the highway wire mesh panels were installed around Adekunle Ramp linking Third Mainland Bride and Oko Baba.
The wire mesh panels have reflective lightening materials which glow at night, indicating the boundaries of the roads.
“We chose the strong iron highway wire mesh panels because they are durable. We also considered the safety of vehicles moving fast in the night as important, that is why we had to put the lights as a reflector to help traffic flow.
“I am planning to visit the place before the end of the week to talk to the saw millers to let them know why the government has put in place the facility to safeguard lives and to tell them to desist from vandalising them,” said the commissioner.
He promised that the government would continue to engage residents of Makoko and Ebute Meta on why they should not use the superhighway bridge as an access route or bus stop.
Salako appealed to residents of Makoko, Oko Baba and Ebute Meta areas to use the underpass of the Adekunle Ramp of the Third Mainland Bridge, which was a safe route.
“Crossing the bridge is like committing suicide, if you look at the traffic flow from Third Mainland Bridge through Adekunle, vehicles are moving at top speed,” he said.
Salako said the state government was going to replicate the new highway wire mesh panel across the state because of its durability and would guide against its vandalism.
“We used the Adekunle highway wire mesh panels as a case study and we will be replicating it all across the state as the year goes on.
A traffic and safety expert, Mr Patrick Adenusi, told NAN that the wire mesh panels served two major purposes; safety and prevention of crimes on the highways.
Adenusi said the highway fence would curb the menace of traffic robbery and other criminal activities by street urchins who perpetrate crimes and runoff across the road.
“The facility will boost highway safety and curb criminal activities. The quick escape of hoodlums will no longer be possible. The hoodlums would want it out of the way,” he said.
Adenusi who is the Executive Director, Technical, Safety Beyond Borders, an NGO, advised the government to continue to educate residents to appreciate the facility to stop the vandalism.
Mr Ajayi Adeleye, Lagos Council Chairman, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) also joined other stakeholders to condemn the vandalism of the new durable infrastructure.
Adeleye commended the state government for the new highway fence and called for continuous sensitisation on the importance of the road infrastructure, which was meant to protect both motorists and pedestrians.
“Government should not be discouraged by the vandalism, it should install this new highway wire mesh panels on all Lagos roads. The lights on this new highway fence are unique,” he said.
However, two ward leaders in Oko Baba Saw Mill who spoke to NAN blamed social miscreants for the vandalism of the facility, which they adjudged to be a good infrastructure.
Olalekan Ogunlana, Ward Chairman, Oko Baba Plank Market, said, “people are constantly knocked down by fast-moving vehicles so government should put this new barrier everywhere.”
Mr Oladepo Adeolu, Vice Secretary, Ward D, Lagos State Saw Millers Association in Ebute Meta, said the association was sensitising the residents, and usually advised them against vandalism.
Mr Musa Iliyasu, a commercial motorcycle operator in Makoko, said the Adekunle Ramp of Third Mainland Bridge was an easier and cheaper bus stop for people going to Obalende or Adeniji.
Iliyasu said one of the vandalised portions was used as quick access route on the Third Mainland Bridge Ramp linking Adekunle in Yaba to help pedestrians get to parks easily.
“If this place is not opened people cannot come down here to take a bike or tricycle. They will have to walk to Adekunle, which is the legal bus stop and we cannot park there.
“We like this highway wire mesh panels but it is disturbing our business, the government should open a small space for those who want to take the risk to cross the highway,” he said.