42 years After, Regeneration Berths On Lekki-Epe Expressway

42 years After, Regeneration Berths On Lekki-Epe Expressway

8 mins read

By Akeem Lasisi


How can we forget you Epe?

Reliable source of akokonkoko,

Cheerful giver of eja osan

zenith ad 1

The fish basket of our salivating land…

           (From the poem, ‘Epe Fish Market’) 

For human beings, life begins at 40. But this is hardly true of a road. No matter how strongly built, it is normal for it to suffer depreciation and, in some cases, outright collapse, after being repeatedly marched and pounded by millions of zooming tyres for so long. This has largely been the fate of the Lekki-Epe Expressway, which was constructed in 1981. But, like many other parts of Lagos State, which are experiencing renewed development, the wind of regeneration is blowing on the vital road that leads to the fish basket of the aquatic land: Epe.

About two years after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu flagged off the 18.7-kilometre six-lane rigid pavement carriageway from Eleko to T-Junction in Epe, respite has come, renewal is here. The first project, which is the first phase of the monumental project, has been completed as promised and is being commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

Experts observe that when the Lateef Jakande government first constructed the Lekki-Epe Expressway in 1981, the builders had adopted a rural road cross-section without drainage, except for chutes provided at intervals to allow water to percolate into the soil along the verges. The current reconstruction, however, entails an upgrade in both capacity and pavement structure, with an increase from a two to three-lane dual-carriageway and a dedicated truck lane plus reinforced concrete rigid pavement.

While flagging off the work on 1 November 2020, at a function held at the Pan African University in Eleko, Ibeju Lekki area, Governor Sanwo-Olu had said: “We recognise the importance of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway Road to the economic prosperity of Lagos and its citizens. We are aware of the agitation and concerns of people about this strategic infrastructure. This is why we initially declared a state of emergency on the road and put in place temporary measures last year in November.

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“Today, I am delighted to be at the historic flag-off of the rehabilitation and upgrading of this 40-year-old Eti Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway. This effort will culminate in a three-lane dual carriageway reinforced concrete pavement road with a dedicated lane in each direction for trucks and a rigid pavement to accommodate the envisaged axle loadings expected to ply the road when it is completed”.

While inspecting the project about six months after, the Governor, on a mission for a ‘Greater Lagos’, had assured Lagosians that the work was on course, acknowledging that the contractor had been active on site. “We are happy with the progress of the project because the contractor works day and night. I believe the work is on track. We are happy with what we have seen, and we believe that the contractor should be rounding off the work by the end of this year or the first quarter of next year”, he had noted.

Based on the prevailing circumstances at the time of conception, the Lekki-Epe Expressway reconstruction can be described as the proverbial white pap that flows from a fire-hurt black pot. The government had defied the harsh memory of the disruptive COVID-19 and #ENDSARS crises when it flagged off the project. Against all odds, it envisioned the succour the road would bring to motorists, the golden hours it would save and the added prosperity it would bring to the expansive and strategic Lekki area and beyond.

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Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye gave the envisaged gains in perspective thus: “Aside the fact that the Lekki-Epe Expressway project, when completed, will eliminate the perennial traffic gridlocks, it would ultimately improve socio-economic activities in and around Lekki and reduce drastically the travel time of commuters”.

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All hands were indeed on deck to ensure the project did not derail. The government too had to wield the big stick at a point to guarantee discipline and the sanity the contractors needed, to the point of demolishing illegal structures right and left of the road. During such an exercise, the General Manager of Lagos State Planning and Environmental Monitoring Authority, Daisi Oso appealed to all stakeholders to cooperate with the government to ensure all unfold well.

He said: “Lekki remains a very critical area and one of Nigeria’s fastest-growing axis, where both government and private sectors are making huge investments. Because of this, the state government will continue to preserve the environment, and anything less becomes an irritant because the present government is committed to achieving its T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda. This demolition exercise will be extended to other parts of the state, especially where infractions are noticed on Setbacks/IOS”.

At last, the phase is completed for the benefit of all and sundry, with the engine of history being oiled by Governor Sanwo-Olu as well as President Muhammadu Buhari, who is commissioning the road. It is also noteworthy that work has begun on the second phase of the project – the 26.7km from Eleko junction to Abraham Adesanya junction in Eti-Osa. In celebrating with all users and residents in general – but to Epe people in particular – here is a poetic tribute to the town regarded as the fish basket of the state:

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By Akeem Lasisi

The goat never forgets the benevolent hand

The ram is ever grateful

To the one that blesses its cheek with eeri ogi

Then, how can we forget you Epe?

Reliable source of akokonkoko,

Cheerful giver of eja osan

The fish basket of our salivating land.

Everywhere I go,

Your aroma follows me

The world attests to the richness of your fish

Antidote to rascally calories,

Immunity to evils of chicken and meat:

At every hospital or medical school

Doctors confer honour on your nutritious fish.

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From Lascofis to Amala Shitta, to Amala Canada to White House and Iya Ola

I have been to more than a hundred joints,

Where your fish is served in multiple styles –

Some boiled, some roasted, some painstakingly sauced with onion fresh

Some pampered with ugwu, some flirted with sokoyokoto

Some so loved after a fiery treat,

They are posthumously honoured with tomato crowns.

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